Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Leave Them Broadway Signs Alone

By Davis Hunt, The Pamphleteer, 22 May 2024 • View in browser
Photo by Drew Hays / Unsplash

Good afternoon, everyone.

Fielding reader questions: “Is there a German word for lashing out at one trivial thing because you are impotent in another (more important) thing?” I don’t know the answer to this question, but if there is such a word, it would describe the Metro Council.

Last night, a benign and routine resolution that would have permitted Morgan Wallen’s Broadway bar to put up signage was voted down with 30 nos, 3 yeses, and 4 abstentions. Councilmember Jacob Kupin, who represents the Broadway district, pulled the bill off the consent agenda—meaning that, instead of bundling it with a bunch of bills that would pass with a simple vote, it would be brought to the floor for discussion before going up for a vote.

“This is a sign encroachment for Morgan Wallen’s new bar that crossed my desk right about the time that he decided to throw a chair off a rooftop, nearly hitting some first responders,” Kupin announced. “It struck me that we’re putting up a sign with someone’s name on it who has not been a good actor downtown.”

Kupin spoke in favor of the resolution (and was one of the three yes votes), but opened the bill up to discussion which set the stage for what was to come. The subsequent discussion led to a series of moralizing soliloquies from a number of council members on why they’d be opposing the bill.

“Is this the same Morgan Wallen that got in trouble for making racist comments and using the N-word?” Councilmember Porterfield asked rhetorically, before announcing her intention to vote “no” on the resolution.

The council’s petulant display was clearly meant to send a message to Wallen, and more broadly, the culture of Broadway. You can see a highlight clip on our Twitter of some of their other comments, which I don’t want to dignify further in print (and I’m late getting this out).

The whole discussion and ensuing vote ate up eight minutes of the three-hour meeting, constituting four percent of the time spent in session inside the chamber. Porterfield later tweeted, “We just voted down a resolution allowing an Aerial Encroachment with Morgan Wallen's name on it. Yes THAT Morgan Wallen. The one who throws chairs & uses racial slurs.”

I’d fully expect this tweet to be used as evidence in a lawsuit that will cost the city at least a couple hundred thousand dollars, if not more. According to the Supreme Court ruling in Reed v. Town of Gilbert, local ordinances may regulate signs so long as the regulations are content-neutral, but not if the regulation is content-based. 

Because the council members didn’t have any misgivings about the sign, aside from the fact that it contained the name of notorious outlaw Morgan Wallen, their vote against the resolution is likely a violation of the First Amendment and bound to end up in court. What an absolute waste of time, energy, and money. 
Rod's Comment: It never ceases to amaze me how illiberal liberal can be. This sure seems like this should be First Amendment issue.

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