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peace t-shirt leads to arrest
March 5, 2003 12:55 AM   Subscribe

Man arrested in a mall for wearing a peace T-shirt. For some reason I think loads of people will show up at this mall wearing peace T-shirts over the next few days.
posted by thedailygrowl (181 comments total)

 
For some reason I think this story contains loads of misleading sentences.
posted by shoos at 1:08 AM on March 5, 2003


Please elaborate, shoos. If the Associated Press has an appalling hippy bias, I want to know.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 1:11 AM on March 5, 2003


I don't like what this country is becoming. I hope this isn't a trend or we are in big trouble.
posted by tljenson at 1:15 AM on March 5, 2003


Hey, can we just consolidate the t-shirt censorship stories into a monthly digest?
posted by planetkyoto at 1:18 AM on March 5, 2003


Please elaborate...On my having "some reason?" OK, well, for one it sounds like bs. People getting arrested solely for wearing T-shirts that say "Peace on Earth?" There's more to this story.
posted by shoos at 1:21 AM on March 5, 2003


Monday's arrest came less than three months after about 20 peace activists wearing similar T-shirts were told to leave by mall security and police. There were no arrests.

Mmmmhmmm...

I hate to say this, but it's private property. Just like David Duke couldn't get a place to stay if his life depended on it, the mall has a right to tell people to leave for reasons like this, and have them arrested if they refuse. The fact that the mall has already clearly displayed its opinion on things like this is precedence enough.

Of course, anyone with half a brain wouldn't shop at that mall anymore, and would let the shops know it, too.
posted by shepd at 1:25 AM on March 5, 2003


other sources
posted by Pretty_Generic at 1:29 AM on March 5, 2003


from Pretty Generic's first generous link:
Guilderland police say they arrested Downs because he refused to leave private property. That, they say, is trespassing.

I'd buy that.
posted by shoos at 1:35 AM on March 5, 2003


::moan::

Here we seem to have merchants calling the police to arrest people for wearing slogans like "Give Peace A Chance."

So, say, if the mall had a Nike store, and the father and son wore T-shirts that said, "Just do it!" ... somehow I don't see these two being kicked to the curb for inciting a war or a riot.

However, heaven forfend an AARP-aged man is inciting the peace at a mall with his t-shirt...merchants are instantly on speed dial to the mall rent-a-cops and then the local police, making sure these rabblerousing pacifists are dragged away in handcuffs.

::moan::

What country am I living in? What's going on here?

What troubles me is that perhaps this is a preview of how America might operate under John Poindexter's Total Information Awareness program.
posted by Dunvegan at 1:35 AM on March 5, 2003


Seems a simple enough story. Mall issues directives to security asking them to get remove activists (or anyone wearing peace tShirts) after 20 activist sit-in. Security spot people wearing said tShirts and ask them to either remove tShirts or leave. Man refuses. Security left with no alternative but to call police. Police arrest man. NO STORY.
posted by seanyboy at 1:38 AM on March 5, 2003


The plot thickens:

A lawyer was arrested late Monday and charged with trespassing at a public mall in the state of New York after refusing to take off a T-shirt advocating peace that he had just purchased at the mall.

So, he's a lawyer. Looking for a good publicity case, perhaps?

Which also brings to my mind, since it appears he is guilty of what he is charged (having stayed when he was told to leave), why did he plead not guilty rather than no jurisdiction, as it is clear he is contesting the jurisdiction of the law over him rather than his innocence of the crime?
posted by shepd at 1:40 AM on March 5, 2003


>So, say, if the mall had a Nike store, and the father and son wore T-shirts that said, "Just do it!" ... somehow I don't see these two being kicked to the curb for inciting a war or a riot.

You mean like this one? ;-)
posted by shepd at 1:43 AM on March 5, 2003


The mall had a policy that "wearing of apparel... likely to provoke disturbances... is prohibited". A mall employee thought that of the peace t-shirts, and mall security asked the guys to leave. They refused. Police summoned. They still refused. Arrest.

I don't think the issue here is free speech. I think most people wouldn't have objected to their being ejected from the mall for wearing shirts that said 'KILL ALL JEWS'. What's at issue is whether the shirts were likely to provoke 'disturbances'. It's a judgement call on the part of the mall. I think the mall badly overreacted, although I suspect it is technically within its rights. IANAL.

Any L's want to comment on this?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 1:49 AM on March 5, 2003


It is a free speech issue (as long as they are not causing a disturbance, customers should be able to wear a Marilyn Manson t-shirt, or a Bart Simpson t-shirt, or a Nike t-shirt, or a peace t-shirt).

But more than that it's a bad management issue. Whoever runs this mall is a total idiot and playing into the hands of the peace activists with whose views they clearly disagree.
posted by skylar at 2:03 AM on March 5, 2003


Nothing comes to mind but burbclave and loglo.
posted by crasspastor at 2:14 AM on March 5, 2003


As people have said, these places are private property. So, don't frequent them, just as you don't go to shitty All Bar Ones with fuckwitted bouncers but instead patronise nice, understated pubs. Your local high street thanks you.
posted by riviera at 2:17 AM on March 5, 2003


The men paid about $23 for each of the shirts and then wore them in the mall.

23 bucks for a frickin' t-shirt? What's this world coming to, goosestepping fascism?

They were asked to leave for causing a disturbance, they didn't, an employee called security. Big fat deal.
posted by hama7 at 2:38 AM on March 5, 2003


While this story has a slight hint of segration (I predict a "sit-in" of protestors at that store will occur soon), it's not all that news-worthy. People have been ejected from stores for far less than a dissenting t-shirt.
posted by Down10 at 2:53 AM on March 5, 2003


23 bucks for a frickin' t-shirt?

It sounds like these weren't standard t-shirts for sale, but rather from a 'design your own shirt' place, that prints t-shirts with whatever words the customer wants. Given a good quality t-shirt as a base, and the very high rents that malls charge their lessor businesses, I'm not surprised at this price.

There's no indication they were causing a disturbance. Unless there's info we're not getting, they were asked to leave solely because of the content of the t-shirts' message.

That having been said, there may BE info we're not getting. All three news stories posted here are heavily from Downs' point of view, and quote him almost exclusively. The mall's version of events is nowhere to be found (they 'did not return calls') and the police just confirm that Downs and son were arrested. I'd be interested in interviews with mall employees who were there, and non-involved mall shoppers, to see how they'd describe the incident.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 3:06 AM on March 5, 2003


Private property? Feh. I've got a better idea - get a T-shirt that says, "Blessed are the peacemakers" - when the mall throws you out for wearing it, sue them under the Civil Rights Act for religious discrimination, as it is a well known phrase from the Bible.
posted by pyramid termite at 3:13 AM on March 5, 2003


I just wonder if mall management would be so willing to kick someone that was wearing a pro war tshirt. I doubt it.
posted by whirlwind29 at 3:14 AM on March 5, 2003


a well known phrase from the Bible
Well known amongst those who know anything about the bible, that is.
posted by mischief at 3:20 AM on March 5, 2003


That's a good point. If security had ordered these customers out just for wearing some kind of religious clothing, the police wouldn't have been so eager to help evict them. Even if there had been a protest by other people of that religion in the past, it would be clearly prejudiced and discriminatory and there'd be uproar.

So if it's religious, it's your civil right - if it's just your opinion, it's a disturbance just to display it. That's double standards.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:34 AM on March 5, 2003


Give me a break! The man was asked to leave private property becuase the shirts were causing a disturbance and mefi liberals charge 1984!?! haha..
posted by ZupanGOD at 3:36 AM on March 5, 2003


Remember that infamous "double standards" scene from 1984? The one with the rat thingys in the cage? You won't be laughing during your interrogation, mr. Zupan.
posted by shoos at 3:39 AM on March 5, 2003


I hate to say this, but it's private property.

I hate to say it, but so's most of the world.

the mall has a right to tell people to leave for reasons like this

Just because it can, doesn't mean it should.

I think most people wouldn't have objected to their being ejected from the mall for wearing shirts that said 'KILL ALL JEWS'.

People here are forever saying that freedom of speech applies to those messages we don't want to hear. Next time we argue about Canada's or Germany's hate speech laws I'll remember this quote.

But this isn't a question of law, it's a question of what kind of society makes it acceptable for these things to happen. Yes, a mall is private property but it's also a public space. In many towns it's the only place to shop for some things. So mall security has made it impossible to wear a t-shirt with a specific slogan in a public space. If you're happy with that then fine, but if I lived in this town I wouldn't be.
posted by Summer at 3:42 AM on March 5, 2003


This post smacks of why some MeFites cry newsfilter, not because it isn't appropriate here, rather (in my case) I logged on to metafilter to see a story about a mall in my home town before I've read todays paper

Here's the local take on this. Same AP source.

As the largest mall around these parts I only go there for their thirty movie theaters (several large screen).

They have a 'Police Station' in the mall so I guess mall security didn't have to go far to fetch the cops.
posted by DBAPaul at 3:53 AM on March 5, 2003


Am I the only one who sees the irony in the fact that you can buy the shirt at this mall but you can't wear the shirt in this mall? And they said irony was dead...
posted by whatever at 3:59 AM on March 5, 2003


Well, if protesters can wear anything from the bible and be protected in the US even within private property, I urge people to wear this in their favourite mall:

Leviticus 20:13 "If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them."

I doubt civil rights covers wearing T-Shirts any more than it would cover most any other voluntary act. Well, that is unless you want to support people wearing that in your favourite store.

And if this mall is your only place to buy things, then it seems that the town is just screaming out for some competition. And if the town only has 5 or 6 residents, and therefore you'd be wasting your time opening a store, you are still 100% within your rights to:

a) Sit on the boulevard and remind all people entering the mall that they are entering a zone of hatred.
b) Buy your stuff from a catalog (which most people in small isolated towns do already for anything more complicated than a potato salad).

I am VERY much for free speech, and I abhorr the anti-free speech laws of Canada (look in my log of posts for how much), but when it comes to private property, you can tell anybody you like to leave, except for reasons that aren't their (and I put this in quotes for lack of a better word) "fault" which they can't change, such as their skin colour.

Besides, why would you want to patronize a place that hates you, even if the store were forced to let you do so? Seems to be against the whole idea of capitalism.

>They have a 'Police Station' in the mall so I guess mall security didn't have to go far to fetch the cops.

Why didn't the guy with the T-Shirt simply tell mall security he's going to hang out in the police station with protest signs then? The police station is public property (well, I damn well would hope so).

All the people involved in this are seeming to be dumber and dumber by the second. A lawyer so silly not to think of the police station and mall security so moronic that they don't let the issue pass (tell the guy he can sit in the mall all day, but he'd better not be wearing the T-Shirt next time he visits).

Much ado about nothing.
posted by shepd at 4:12 AM on March 5, 2003


Wait a minute. Next time I am in a mall, if I see someone wearing clothes with slogans that bug me, I can create a disturbance about it and those people will be asked to leave?

Cool!

Maybe they should have asked the people who were creating the disturbances to leave. What the heck was that about?
posted by madamjujujive at 4:16 AM on March 5, 2003


Yes, a mall is private property but it's also a public space.

And there's the rub. Everyone agrees that you have the right to wear a t-shirt with about any political sentiments you want on a public street. But during the last generation, in the US, a lot of shopping has moved from stores on public streets to the malls. Malls are private property, and you don't have the same right to exercise free speech on someone else's property as you do on the public street, or on your own property.

Moreover, it can be argued that one of the reasons that people shop at malls rather than at stores on city streets is that it gets them away from people waving signs in their faces, asking them for change, standing on soap boxes yelling political stuff, and so on. The shoppers are 'voting with their feet'.

Nevertheless, I think it's been recognized that malls are de facto 'public' space, in some sense, and are required (in at least some places) to allow limited political activity: leaflet distribution, card tables with literature, and so on.

I'm vague on the constitutional aspects of this; can any lawyers comment?
posted by Slithy_Tove at 4:19 AM on March 5, 2003


More on the legal status of malls: private property vs. quasi-public space.

On preview: what madamjujujive said.
posted by skoosh at 4:21 AM on March 5, 2003


A lot of malls now have a set of "Visitor Guidelines" posted that disallow "controversial t-shirts". and since the mall is private property, they're not "public" spaces. it really depends on the area (on preview NJ considers them so but TN & GA doesn't), most look at malls like other businesses, and don't require them to allow anything vaguely political on their grounds.
posted by mkelley at 4:26 AM on March 5, 2003


More on the Public area vs. Private area in shopping mall debate. - link via the Boing Boing discussion
posted by mkelley at 4:37 AM on March 5, 2003


Anybody who is gravely offended by a t-shirt which states "Peace On Earth' is in serious need of a thorough mental evaluation.

The argument that the mall has the right to ask a person to leave for wearing a "Peace On Earth" t-shirt while shopping is a ruse. The mall understands that it has placed itself in a precarious position, both legally and in the court of public opinion, and it is simply attempting to mitigate damages.

Their saving grace is that there is not a competitive mall nearby, thus making it difficult to show your opinion by not shopping there.
posted by mosch at 5:03 AM on March 5, 2003


Here is the most complete, locally written story on this affair.
posted by beagle at 5:18 AM on March 5, 2003


Forget the legalities or a moment. Just ask yourselves - what needs to change in a country where this can happen?
posted by Raindog at 5:18 AM on March 5, 2003


Wanting peace means you don't support our troops.
Wanting peace means you hate America
Wanting peace means you support Saddam.
Wanting peace means you are a traitor
Wanting peace means you don't want to see the men and women of the allied forces die needlessly in a battle with a country where we will most definitely kill hundreds of thousands of civilians, to catch a dictator who may have chemical weapons to use on our troops.

How dare you suggest that containment is working, we need to go in, we need to kill Saddam, we need to regime change; we need a base in the region so we can do all of this again next year. Iran isn't out of the woods just yet, and how about those Saudi's, we haven't forgotten that the hijackers were from there.
posted by CrazyJub at 5:19 AM on March 5, 2003


The mall is within their rights, but is asking for trouble. And I think they should get it.
posted by y6y6y6 at 5:19 AM on March 5, 2003


I'm with whatever How can a commercial establishment be allowed to ban from its premises the products it sells? Makes absolutely no sense. For once, I'm glad the guy is a lawyer. Maybe he even knows what he is doing. For now, the mall is in the news, and not is a favorable light. So far, so good.

On P, Mosch makes a lot of sense too. Here's hoping it will got to court and perhaps someone can explain why the slogan "Peace on earth" can cause a disruption, offend someone or be controversial.

When big brother goes nuit, it is a big deal.
posted by magullo at 5:19 AM on March 5, 2003


What were y'all expecting, open mindedness? It's a fucking mall.

If the Associated Press has an appalling hippy bias

No but like every other press outlet on the planet they have a bias towards controversy, cause it sells papers. To tell you the truth both the pro- and anti-war are getting on my fuckin' nerves with all the chip on the shoulder sloganeering and deliberately polarizing rhetoric.

Whatever's going to happen is going to happen no matter what you do. The powers that be do not care what anyone thinks. All this worry about "Big Brother" assumes that you are important enough for Big Brother to give a rats ass about as something other than a target market, cannon fodder or another chanter in some mob of protesters. I myself am smart enough to know he dosen't.
posted by jonmc at 5:44 AM on March 5, 2003


Well said, jonmc.
posted by hama7 at 5:56 AM on March 5, 2003


I don't like silly Orwellian accusations either jonmc, but you're missing the point of Big Brother with that last statement. Big Brother in '1984' was crowd control, they had special treatment for the people who mattered.
posted by Summer at 6:01 AM on March 5, 2003


jonmc, I don't see your point. Are you saying we shouldn't talk about what we want in society? Saying that something is wrong doesn't mean you assume you personally can change it. It's trying to convince everybody to change it.
posted by Pretty_Generic at 6:02 AM on March 5, 2003


A smart mall operator would turn this into a marketing opportunity. Picture the ads: after a long day protesting, stop by the Crusty Hill Mall and unwind with some shopping at Macy's and a slice from Sbarro. They can even install modified umbrella stands where weary protesters can put their placards while they shop.
posted by dchase at 6:05 AM on March 5, 2003


And if this mall is your only place to buy things, then it seems that the town is just screaming out for some competition. And if the town only has 5 or 6 residents, and therefore you'd be wasting your time opening a store,

Where are you getting this? Guilderlands proper is small, but it's right outside Albany (when I lived there, I always thought it was in Albany) and all the 300,000 residents of Albany shop there. It's not exactly a small, isolated town.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 6:11 AM on March 5, 2003


They should have been executed on the spot. Then their bodies dismembered and parts sent to all four corners of the mall as a warning. There heads mounted on pikes at the entrance. There families rounded up and thrown in the dungeon. There livestock confiscated. There dogs slain. And there virginal daughters..... muwhahahahaha, well, they should just be sent to me.

Then we can all have peace, just a different kind of piece

Metaregion is shrinking n NationStates. We are down to 56 nations now, and continuing to shrink everyday. Login now and keep your region alive dammit !!
posted by a3matrix at 6:21 AM on March 5, 2003


I can't immagine that the guy's wearing a peace t-shirt actually caused any type of disturbance. At least not that any of the reports has said.
posted by Space Coyote at 6:24 AM on March 5, 2003


shepd - "The police station is public property (well, I damn well would hope so)."

I'll expect that check in the mail. IIRC, it's not Public property per se, the substation is located within the mall on mall property, provided by the mall (which I suppose could influence their actions in favor of the mall.)


Mosch - "Their saving grace is that there is not a competitive mall nearby, thus making it difficult to show your opinion by not shopping there."

Actually this mall is the largest in these parts. There are three other large malls nearby.
posted by DBAPaul at 6:24 AM on March 5, 2003


This "we're getting fucked whether we like it or not so we should all lie back and try to enjoy it" mindset has almost thoroughly paralyzed what used to be the left in this country.

If you throw up your hands in resignation, aren't you just as guilty as the guy who pulls the switch?

Americans still have a voice--a very loud one. It's heard in polls and in the voting booth, and politicians listen to that voice. It's a ridiculously trite thing to say, but one person makes a difference.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was a preacher from Alabama who came out of freaking nowhere and helped revolutionize American civil rights. Gandhi was a South African lawyer who came out of freaking nowhere and kicked the British out of India. Pym Fortuyn was a radical who came out of freaking nowhere and almost single-handedly upended Dutch politics.

So don't give me this line that there's nothing the average Joe can do. It seems to me that the main reason we behave as though we have no power is that if we acknowledged that power to ourselves, we would feel morally obliged to exercize it.
</screed>
posted by vraxoin at 6:38 AM on March 5, 2003


No but like every other press outlet on the planet they have a bias towards controversy, cause it sells papers. ... The powers that be do not care what anyone thinks. All this worry about "Big Brother" assumes that you are important enough for Big Brother to give a rats ass about as something other than a target market, cannon fodder or another chanter in some mob of protesters.

Yeah, but something like this can be a watershed. Those nasty old media people take this ball and run with it - by the end of next week, half of the syndicated columnists in America will have weighted in on this one, most of them busting the mall management in the chops.

Mall management, by the way, is probably consciously ducking the media, the pussies. I work in the media, and have to make these kind of phone calls all the time - where you get the secretary of the mall manager on the phone, tell them who you are and why you're calling and indicate that you'd really like to give him/her a chance to comment. They take your name and number and simply never call you back, because they realize that no matter what they say, they're fucked.

Which is true, but not because of how the reporter will write it, but by what they've already done. There is simply no way to spin this and come out looking good.

My take is, if you're going to be so chickenshit as to do something like this, at least stand up like a man and explain yourself.
posted by kgasmart at 6:46 AM on March 5, 2003


You can here the local public radio (WAMC) report here. Later today their websiteshould have an interview with the son of the man arrested up for listening. WAMC is using this story to drive their fundraising efforts running this week.

Clearly - these guys wanted to make a statement. They went to the mall specifically to buy the shirts and put them on. They had no past association with the peace protests that had occured there - they just wanted their views to be public. The son made interesting observations about the clothes that _are_ allowed to be worn at the mall. Corporate shilling, violent imagery etc. - I guess "idea shilling" is what the mall is against.
posted by dhacker at 6:51 AM on March 5, 2003


Nevertheless, I think it's been recognized that malls are de facto 'public' space, in some sense, and are required (in at least some places) to allow limited political activity: leaflet distribution, card tables with literature, and so on.

This is true of N.J., but that's only because the N.J. Constitution grants additional free speech protections to areas that are deemed de-facto "town squares," big malls are one of them. Unfortunately, without additional protection from N.Y. State, the mall was well with its rights. If Stephen Downs wants to change this he has the power to petition the N.Y. legislature or argue in a court that the N.Y. Constitution protects him. Now if this were a school...Oh never mind...that's just a First Amendment mess...Where is black letter law when you need it? Basically, what the hell is "reasonable" trough a Constitutional filter? I’m sure that Lt. Aschroft has an answer, but I’m sure I don’t like it.
posted by Bag Man at 6:51 AM on March 5, 2003


Mall walks for peace and free mall expression!
posted by Eekacat at 6:52 AM on March 5, 2003


He was repeatedly told the mall was private property and what he was wearing was unacceptable, the same as if he went to someone's home wearing something unacceptable.

Does this mean that if someone enters my home, and I think they have terrible fashion sense, I can have them arrested?

Cool. I can't wait for my mom to stop by wearing puce and lavender plaid polyester.

----------

Personally, to the original topic, I think that any mall that has patrons removed who are spending money and involved in a protest of any sort, simply because they are wearing shirts with peace slogans on them, is just shooting itself in the ass.

Now pardon me while I go test the local mall security with my newest peace slogan tee shirt.
posted by Orb at 6:56 AM on March 5, 2003


Does anyone know what mall this supposedly happened in? I think it's odd that the news story doesn't provide that information.
posted by crunchland at 7:10 AM on March 5, 2003


night after they were spotted wearing the T-shirts at Crossgates Mall in a suburb of Albany, the men said.

graf 2. Also several times right here on this page.
posted by ook at 7:14 AM on March 5, 2003


Besides, why would you want to patronize a place that hates you, even if the store were forced to let you do so? Seems to be against the whole idea of capitalism.

Isn't this similar to the argument that was made in the 50's when black Americans were segregated from white establishments? Why would you want to do business where people hate you? Just go someplace else.

As for all this theorizing about the law, here's what the law has to say about it (I refer you to the landmark Sumpreme Court case Terminiello v. Chicago):

"...freedom of speech, though not absolute, is nevertheless protected against censorship or punishment, unless shown likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil that rises far above public inconvenience, annoyance, or unrest. There is no room under our Constitution for a more restrictive view.
...
The ordinance as construed by the trial court seriously invaded this province. It permitted conviction of petitioner if his speech stirred people to anger, invited public dispute, or brought about a condition of unrest. A conviction resting on any of those grounds may not stand."
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:24 AM on March 5, 2003


"I think most people wouldn't have objected to their being ejected from the mall for wearing shirts that said 'KILL ALL JEWS'."

Godwin's Law! Thread's dead. :)
posted by zanpo at 7:30 AM on March 5, 2003


You can't invoke Godwin just because someone hypothetically said 'KILL ALL JEWS.' What are you, some kind of Nazi?
posted by vraxoin at 7:39 AM on March 5, 2003


He was repeatedly told the mall was private property and what he was wearing was unacceptable, the same as if he went to someone's home wearing something unacceptable.

Orb: Does this mean that if someone enters my home, and I think they have terrible fashion sense, I can have them arrested?

Yes -- if you first ask them to leave your house, and they refuse. That's trespassing.

Assuming that it's your house. Or is it your mom's?

If it's your house, you could have your mom thrown out if she doesn't leave when you ask her too. Of course, people would probably think pretty badly of you, exactly as they do of this mall's management.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 7:41 AM on March 5, 2003


interrogated over a t-shirt?
posted by ZupanGOD at 7:54 AM on March 5, 2003


Christmas 2003: American Mall bans traditional greetings cards and signs...

France pisses itself laughing at the land of the free.
posted by dash_slot- at 7:57 AM on March 5, 2003


Isn't this similar to the argument that was made in the 50's when black Americans were segregated from white establishments?

Not really. Desegregation cases were built on very careful arguments that stretched the federal government's authority to cover individual places of "public accomodation" like hotels, restaurants, etc. After the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964, it was tested in the Heart of Atlanta case, and upheld, but based on the Commerce Clause of the Constitution, *not* Equal Protection, strangely enough (you just saved about $90,000 in law school tuition right there). The argument was that racial discrimination had a deleterious effect on interstate commerce. Yup, not making that up.

Anyway, the mall protesters are in a different arena, the First Amendment one...or they would be if the First Amendment applied at the mall, which it doesn't, because it's a private entity, not the state. Malls can have all kinds of rules the state probably could not, like youth curfews and bans on loitering (which could be argued as some kind of pretext for discrimination, against, say ethnic gangs). Even if, say, all the peace t-shirt protesters were white, the mall can still say they are being booted out of the mall based on their provocative message, not their race. And if this was a school? Messier, but there's still a strong "safety" defense against allowing unfettered protest in the hallowed "learning environment," so the outcome might be the same. My advice: go in, buy a shirt, and stand on the sidewalk outside the mall...repeat.
posted by serafinapekkala at 8:05 AM on March 5, 2003


Am I the only one who sees the irony in the fact that you can buy the shirt at this mall but you can't wear the shirt in this mall?

That's the first thing I noticed. How can the mall allow such peace-loving, rabble-rousing merchants to exist on their own private property?

interrogated over a t-shirt?

When t-shirts are outlawed, only outlaws will wear t-shirts.
posted by LeLiLo at 8:06 AM on March 5, 2003


graf 2. Also several times right here on this page.

pfft. you don't actually think I have time to read all this drivel that closely, do you?
posted by crunchland at 8:10 AM on March 5, 2003


Dailygrowl - You've provoked a nice discussion. However, as a deputy of the "metafilter mall police", I must kindly ask you to leave the premises or face arrest. hee hee hee!

A few weeks ago, I bought a large (post-Christmas discount) african hand drum from a "TJ Maxx" outlet in a mall. It was late evening, few people were around, and the place was so big and resonant.....I just had to play it. A security guard kicked me out...but he actually let me make noise for a minute or two. I guess whacking on a loud drum is better than calling for peace on earth?

WHO defines the "disturbance"? -- "Wait a minute. Next time I am in a mall, if I see someone wearing clothes with slogans that bug me, I can create a disturbance about it and those people will be asked to leave? .....Cool! " - Zen Koan-like comment from madamjujujive

This was a brilliantly conceived protest designed to amplify Mr. Downs' Anti-War message by provoking an arrest and so generating millions of dollars worth of free press.

Three cheers for mall management stupidity!

Undeserved free press? - I think not. This is an evolving - and higly contentious - area of jurisprudence which the US Supreme Court has not weighed in on since 1980. Although the T-shirt "protest" would have been legal in New Jersey and California, mall authorities would have been within their legal rights to kick out Mr. Downs and son in all other US States. (Thanks for that link, mkelley!)

It's a sticky one fer sure - thought experiment: carry the current trends a few decades into the future. What if all the public commons - areas where people gather for commerce, to shop, to socialize and to be seen - are finally all bought up by private concerns. Malls, private 'gated' communites, etc. What of free speech rights then? Are they then simply pushed to the margins, as "Free Speech" allowed only where humans are not present - such as in vacant lots and empty cornfields?

Also, as malls grow into (private) cities and implacably eat up more and more of the public commons, won't this require more quasi-public spaces (police substations, etc.) within them which would then radiate local "Free-Speech" zones?
Or will private mall police be granted full police powers, thus making state or local police substations unecessary?

----------------------------------------------------------------------------

So....malls can't refuse to admit patrons based on race, ethnicity, or handicap - but they can refuse to admit patrons based on other considerations, such as printed messages on their clothing? Can they refuse admission to patrons who smell?...........Shouldn't the malls be at least required to prominently post their "dress code"? (by their front doors).

Speaking of dress codes, has anyone noticed that this sort of conflict comes up all the time in public schools? Kids try - all the time - to wear clothing that pushes buttons - sexual, religious, political. But if it's to be a "pushing it to the limit" game played against ham handed attempts by mall authorities to limit all "troublesome" speech and reduce the Mall-O-sphere to the mindlessly anodyne.....

As teens forever remind us, there's always another creative way to bend, poke at, or otherwise subvert clumsy institutional attempts to limit human expression.

There's always a way......

"Private property? Feh. I've got a better idea - get a T-shirt that says, "Blessed are the peacemakers" - when the mall throws you out for wearing it, sue them under the Civil Rights Act for religious discrimination, as it is a well known phrase from the Bible."
(posted by pyramid termite at 3:13 AM PST on March 5)

Pyramid Termite - hmmmm - you've got me thinkin' now.....
posted by troutfishing at 8:13 AM on March 5, 2003


Am I the only one who sees the irony in the fact that you can buy the shirt at this mall but you can't wear the shirt in this mall?

Actually, you can't buy this shirt at the mall - and they didn't. You can go to a custom t-shirt shop at the mall and have them make the shirt for you using the letters they have at their disposal.

In related news, the mall is considering preventing the store from stocking the letter "q" because of its appearance in the word "Iraq".
posted by dhacker at 8:32 AM on March 5, 2003


Kuit Killing Irakis!
posted by Pretty_Generic at 8:38 AM on March 5, 2003


I feel safer already! Good work, cops!
posted by Ty Webb at 8:43 AM on March 5, 2003


As for all this theorizing about the law, here's what the law has to say about it

Civil_Disobedient what about New Jersey Coalition Against War in the Middle East v. J.M.B. Realty Corporation, et. al.? In that case the court held people in de-facto town square are only protected if their state constitution grants them protection. It looks this case turns on that question, and whether the Crossgates Mall qualifies as a "town square." And not to forget the state action issue...

The U.S. Supreme Court considered a similar issue in Lloyd Corp., Limited v. Tanner as examined by PruneYard Shopping Center v. Robins where the Court concluded: "the First Amendment does not prevent a private shopping center owner from prohibiting the distribution on center premises of handbills unrelated to the center's operations--does not ex proprio vigore limit a State's authority to exercise it[s] police power or its sovereign right to adopt in its own constitution individual liberties more expansive than those conferred by the Federal Constitution. And a State, in the exercise of its police power, may adopt reasonable restrictions on private property so long as the restrictions do not amount to taking without just compensation or contravene any other federal constitutional provision"

According to PruneYard Shopping Center, there is little or no Federal protection on privite property and such an issue is basically a beast of state Constitutional law.
posted by Bag Man at 8:55 AM on March 5, 2003


Oh crap, I hate it when my post gets munched.

There is a related ruling in the 10th circuit court regarding Salt Lake City's Main Street Plaza that was sold to the Mormon church. In that case, the court ruled that the traditional function of sidewalks as a free speech venue was more important than asserting private property rights on a commons. Whether courts will make a leap from main street to mall is a matter of question. One can also make an argument that while the mall might be justified in demanding that mass protests disperse, it is not justified in making political decisions about what you wear to the mall.

But I suspect this case is less about the court system than the court of public opinion. Is the mall really willing to endure the negative publicity of arresting people for wearing political clothing?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 8:57 AM on March 5, 2003


France pisses itself laughing at the land of the free.

But only after threatening to keep any country that doesn't agree with it's stance out of the EU. It hardly occupies some moral high ground in the freedom of speech arena.

Malls are businesses - private businesses - just like any large office building that leases space to clients that rent it. Hell, I was in 1 Penn Plaza and one of the World Financial Center buildings yesterday, and in both places not only can't you hang out in a "Peace" T-Shirt, you can't hang out at all ... and to get past the front desk you need to show ID, tell them who you are there to visit, and have that person called to confirm your appointment. These buildings don't care if visitors find this inconvenient, their clients are their tenants.

The point is, any management company leasing space creates an environment that it considers best for its tenants. While MeFi is has a dominant attitude towards Iraq, it is different than the US norm - where support is solidly behind Bush ... and once you get outside of big urban areas, is overwhelmingly behind Bush. If the mall management concludes that upwards of 60% or 70% of its tenants and shoppers simply don't want the mall to be a political place, they'll enforce a rule about it. The same management company, were it to be running a mall in San Fransisco or Berkeley, would very likely have a different policy - and would very likely ask 20 people holding a pro-Bush rally to leave.

Individuals have the right to hold and express any views they wish - and that includes individuals that own businesses. (Just as 4 investment bankers from CitiGroup who walked into Greenpeace headquarters, and started working on the dealflow for a factory in a rainforest, could - and would - be told to leave. Because Greenpeace has the right enforce any standards it wishes on its premises.)

This mall may get bad press around the country, and be slammed on MeFi, but I'd be willing to bet that after the first protest it talked to it's tenants, understands its community, and made a business decision about a policy. some people may boycott the mall due to this press. But for every one that does, there may be another person that shops there precisely because of the policy.
posted by MidasMulligan at 9:06 AM on March 5, 2003


The story from MSNBC, including a picture of the offending t-shirts and the Downses.
posted by Bag Man at 9:14 AM on March 5, 2003


How could anyone possibly defend this, private property or no? Besides, the mall had a police station on site? If it wants to be considered totally private, it should hire more private security, don't you think?
posted by raysmj at 9:22 AM on March 5, 2003


How can a commercial establishment be allowed to ban from its premises the products it sells?

You can buy dildoes in Spencer's (well maybe not in Texas, but I've seen 'em), but I have this sneaking suspicion that they'd chuck you out if you took one out of the bag and started using it in the mall.

Or for fun, try walking around the mall holding that nice big axe you just bought from Sears. For added joy, carry it over your shoulder as you continue shopping and having lunch.

raysmj: I wouldn't defend it. They're jackasses, but it's their right to be jackasses on or about their own property (absent a law barring them from it). I certainly hope that consumers and stores make them, eh, see the light.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:28 AM on March 5, 2003


Midas: While MeFi is has a dominant attitude towards Iraq, it is different than the US norm - where support is solidly behind Bush

This has become such a common slander that it really isn't funny. Opposition to the war is not about supporting Iraq, but about questioning the actions of a President with a serious honesty problem.

If the mall management concludes that upwards of 60% or 70% of its tenants and shoppers simply don't want the mall to be a political place, they'll enforce a rule about it. The same management company, were it to be running a mall in San Fransisco or Berkeley, would very likely have a different policy - and would very likely ask 20 people holding a pro-Bush rally to leave.

I don't see anyone arguing with the decision to ask the mass peace rally to leave. However, even if a mall is entitled to turn its sidewalks into a space free from political protest, should it? Should the forms of political protest it tolerates be dictated entirely on the basis of majority opinion (as you imply?) I suspect that if the mall were to ban wearing "Support Our Troops" shirts on the grounds that it is a form of political speech that you would be howling.

In fact, recently I supported a gay-owned bagel shop that served religious anti-gay protesters having a rally in the park next door.

In addition, we are still in a recession and a steady 38% of the population oppose the war. Can a business that depends on packing as many people as possible through the doors really affoard to tell 38% of its customers that they are not welcome?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:33 AM on March 5, 2003


KirkJobSluder, I don't think anyone here (including me) is suggesting that the mall was "right" in a normative sense, just they had a legal right to do what they did.
posted by Bag Man at 9:38 AM on March 5, 2003


ROU: They should at least be horribly shamed by this. A big "Bush is a war criminal" or "I (Heart) Saddam and Communism" T-shirt might provoke a confrontation, but this guy was wearing a T-shirt whose message fit with the central teachings of America's dominant religion and something most ethical systems and religions strongly endorse regardless. It doesn't make any sense. It's one of those "gosh knows what they'll arrest you for next" things. If you're going to be arrested for proclaiming such broadly held and common beliefs, the mall should let you know ahead of time, in clear terms. In other words, "Don't wear any shirts with writing on it, outside of "Tommy," "Sean John" or "Polo," etc. (The first guy's T-shirt was a little more iffy, prolly, but not particularly outrageous.)
posted by raysmj at 9:41 AM on March 5, 2003


as 4 investment bankers from CitiGroup who walked into Greenpeace headquarters, and started working on the dealflow for a factory in a rainforest, could - and would - be told to leave.

Bad analogy. I am all for sovereignty on private property, but Crossgates Mall is private only in the most tenuous and legalistic sense. It gets tax breaks and development incentives (the less charitable would call them kickbacks) from the government. The Capitol District Transportation Authority maintains major bus hubs on Crossgates' property. The lines are definitely blurry in a way that they wouldn't be for Greenpeace HQ (or Cato Institute HQ, or what have you).
posted by IshmaelGraves at 9:41 AM on March 5, 2003


Land of the (double thinking, bait-and-switching, money-trumping, rights-squashing, MidasMulliging) Free.

Although it's difficult to take your country seriously, it's necessary - like Krusty the Klown, with a nuclear-armed aircraft carrier. Ridiculous, pissed off - and dangerous.

Oh yeah - and intolerant.
posted by dash_slot- at 9:42 AM on March 5, 2003


Rope off the mall, put protesters in hazmat gear beside every entrance, display signs saying "Poisonous Stupidity Inside" I know it's not legal, but it's how I feel.
These schmucks won't be happy until they have another Kent State to crow about.
posted by scottymac at 9:42 AM on March 5, 2003


If the mall management concludes that upwards of 60% or 70% of its tenants and shoppers simply don't want the mall to be a political place, they'll enforce a rule about it.

Now that's what I call doublespeak. How can the act of kicking someone out for their political views not be construed as political? And if you agree that a lessor has the right to make policies about what tenants and visitors to their properties make, how will you feel when your landlord informs you that you're no longer allowed to espouse your right-wing views from your apartment?
posted by vraxoin at 9:50 AM on March 5, 2003


Hell, I was in 1 Penn Plaza and one of the World Financial Center buildings yesterday, and in both places not only can't you hang out in a "Peace" T-Shirt, you can't hang out at all

Well, Midas, if you can't make the not-so-subtle distinction between a shopping precinct and an office building, I really have to worry for your capitalist credentials.
posted by riviera at 9:57 AM on March 5, 2003


Gee MidasMulligan, since you're so big on analogies and everything here (a shopping mall is just like any large office building: 1 Penn Plaza, World Financial Center, blah blah blah), I'm sure you won't mind one noting that allowing businesses to do whatever they want and enforcing "any standards it wishes on its premises" was so very effective as part of segregationist and racist United States locales. You know, where "60% or 70% of its tenants and shoppers" simply didn't want stores and lunch counters or even GODDAMN DRINKING FOUNTAINS to have any of those annoying and "political" dark-skinned folks around, what with their inflammatory desire for things like civil rights. You remember -- justice and equality and brotherhood through the special magic of, uh, property "rights".

How's that analogy working for you, MidasMulligan?

This mall may get bad press around the country, and be slammed on MeFi, but I'd be willing to bet that after the first protest it talked to it's tenants, understands its community, and made a business decision about a policy.

Here's an incredibly novel idea: how about if these particular mall managers and business people in general started standing up and making decisions based on ethical principles, instead of basing them on such deep imperatives as thicker wallets and that oh-so-longed-for move into a corner office at 1 Penn Plaza?

Based on the information linked above, these mall business people are merely small, business people. Disgusting.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 9:58 AM on March 5, 2003


Land of the (double thinking, bait-and-switching, money-trumping, rights-squashing, MidasMulliging) Free.

Lets be careful when we point fingers at a country. Pig is banned in a UK school. I'm sure you also were not thowing rocks either, I know where your coming from.

We have had this problem before, back in the late 80's with cuss words on shirts, Shit Happens, ring a bell?

See the courts have yet to decide and the mall, private as it is, may see recourse here. Plus right or wrong this screams, what the shit is going on here.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:00 AM on March 5, 2003


PS was this mall management or a security guard who bullied his ideas in with his work?
posted by thomcatspike at 10:06 AM on March 5, 2003


Well, I would argue in response that while a mall's private property rights is and should be tempered by their status as public gathering spaces analogous to city squares and by individual rights. I'm more than comfortable with malls restricting gatherings of more than a handful of people, and restricting leafletting, but I don't agree that malls should have the legal right to do more than "no shirt, no shoes, no service."
posted by KirkJobSluder at 10:08 AM on March 5, 2003


Although it's difficult to take your country seriously

Its also difficult to take Western European "democracies" seriously that ban the existence of certain political parities. Also, insulting a head of state is illegal in Italy. The rights all Americans enjoy (the right stay they don't like the current president) is against the law in at least one Western European "democracy."

dash_slot-, does not the public outcry over this (as documented in the MSN article I posted) negate your comment? Besides, the U.S. got its property law, including the right of a landowner to do whatever he/she wants on his/her land, from England? Further, given that many states don't allow what the mall did, tents to show that US is progressive on these issues? Then again, I’m an American who knows the law, what do I know? Apparently I know nothing according to a person who can only cite the Simpson as a controlling precedence.

On perview: what thomcatspike said.
posted by Bag Man at 10:10 AM on March 5, 2003


So....malls can't refuse to admit patrons based on race, ethnicity, or handicap - but they can refuse to admit patrons based on other considerations, such as printed messages on their clothing? Can they refuse admission to patrons who smell?

yup. well, let me qualify that yup: federally, yes. state laws and local ordinances may offer more protection to the rights of certain groups (see the San Francisco anti-weight discrimination law), including, possibly, the stinky. the trick is, ostensibly the mall is not siding with or against whatever message you've got stamped on your shirt, they are just trying to maintain a safe and pleasant shopping environment (read: making sure nothing distracts you from supporting consumer capitalism). similar to preventing soliciting in the mall without permission, they want to prevent political or other non-shopping disruption. but of course, if someone had a shirt that said "SPEND SPEND SPEND!" on it (without irony, of course) as they walked around, i bet they would not be chucked out along with, say, Adbusters types with "Buy Nothing Day" shirts. heck, if the malls had their way they'd bar people with bad credit, too.
posted by serafinapekkala at 10:15 AM on March 5, 2003


The same management company, were it to be running a mall in San Fransisco or Berkeley, would very likely have a different policy - and would very likely ask 20 people holding a pro-Bush rally to leave.

Ha ha, nice try, but no. Wouldn't happen. You were doing pretty well until you tried to float that junk, though.
posted by Ty Webb at 10:16 AM on March 5, 2003


thom - your christian system is screwed when armed cops arrest & handcuff an elderly man for the glyphs on his clothes. and then your powerful elitists defend it... in real life.
our system of education is screwed when a teacher confuses the fantasy depiction of a talking pig family's adventures with the religious disgust over the consumption of said animal's meat.

the U.S. got its property law, including the right of a landowner to do whatever he/she wants on his/her land, from England -
maybe so, but has hung on to it for 200+ years. is it yours now?
posted by dash_slot- at 10:17 AM on March 5, 2003


Well, I guess now I understand the hidden *beauty* of the republican push to privatize every damn public service in the country. Then us pesky dissenters will only be able to exercise our free speech at home.

I think those nudist lady peace protesters from California ought to go to this mall in peace t-shirts, and when asked to remove them, do so. (I would but I am working that day.)
posted by madamjujujive at 10:18 AM on March 5, 2003


meant to say...

your christian system is screwed when armed cops arrest & handcuff an elderly man for the christian glyphs on his clothes.
posted by dash_slot- at 10:20 AM on March 5, 2003


Land of the (double thinking, bait-and-switching, money-trumping, rights-squashing, MidasMulliging) Free.

Oh yeah - and intolerant.


Piss off, troll. England has produced some of the most intolerant, insufferably snobbish people the world has ever seen. Living there, surely you know this. People in glass houses, etc.
posted by dhoyt at 10:23 AM on March 5, 2003


How could anyone possibly defend this, private property or no?

Defend it against whom? Anyone who believes they have the right to tell it how to run its business? Private businesses do not need to defend themselves. They do not answer to the press, nor to people who believe in causes. They answer to their customers. Period. If this mall believed that the large majority of its customers and tenants want a place free of politics, would the protesters demanding that it "defend" itself make up the revenue it might lose if it allowed daily anti-war protests?

Besides, the mall had a police station on site? If it wants to be considered totally private, it should hire more private security, don't you think?

It is common for malls and other places to do this - and it helps both the city taxpayers (who get free space for additional police facilities) and the malls (which have large amounts of cash). Sounds like the mall has fully sufficient security, but there are limits to what these people can legally do. They asked the people to remove their shirts or leave. These people refused to do either. Would you have wanted the private security guys to have physically and forcibly removed them? (Imagine the press, and the legal liability, that would have come from that). No, these guys were trespassing, plain and simple - businesses, both left and right leaning, have the right to ask people to leave. These folks broke a civil law that an elected government passed. The police were called to arrest them - just as you'd call the police if you had a house guest that refused to leave.

In addition, we are still in a recession and a steady 38% of the population oppose the war. Can a business that depends on packing as many people as possible through the doors really affoard to tell 38% of its customers that they are not welcome?

Well now, isn't that up to the business to decide? You quoted a national poll. And in political circles, there is always dispute over the amount of support for causes, be it poll numbers, or the numbers of people at protests, etc., etc. A business owner, however, doesn't give a flying crap about those arguments, however. Not only doesn't care what national polls look like, or even a poll of the local city ... S/he is interested in a single, precise demographic: customers. And I'd be willing to bet the mall owners have an extremely good profile of them.

The fact that their conclusions lead to the policy they have may upset protesters - who want to believe they have huge public support - is secondary. The national polls show particular percentages, but pro-Bush and anti-war sentiment is not evenly dispersed. Large urban areas - New York City, or Los Angeles - tend to be quite a bit more liberal than the norm. But a lot of rural America is not. Go to Iowa, or upsate New York, or eastern Montana, and you may find 80% or 90% support for Bush in rural communities. There are places where booting a protester out of a local mall would be the single best business decision a mall owner could make, and a large national outcry would actually lead the locals to support the business as a statement.

Pro-Bush supporters generally don't organize large public rallies (they don't need to protest, they are the majority), but don't believe for a second that there are not a lot of them, and that some of them aren't just as vehement and determined as any anti-war protester is.
posted by MidasMulligan at 10:29 AM on March 5, 2003


...and I thought you were such a naice young man...
posted by dash_slot- at 10:30 AM on March 5, 2003


your christian system is screwed when armed cops arrest & handcuff an elderly man for the glyphs on his clothes. and then your powerful elitists defend it... in real life.

Slash I give you credit, for your humility of mankind. Yes it irks me too, just for rebelious reasons of my own.

Downs said police tried to convince him he was wrong in his actions by refusing to remove the T-shirt because the mall "was like a private house and that I was acting poorly.

I told them the analogy was not good and I was then hauled off to night court where I was arraigned after pleading not guilty and released on my own recognizance," Downs told Reuters in a telephone interview.

Since no fine was mentioned, I don't agree the police seeked him out yet. I think the police were doing their job right or wrong with what we think with this patron of the mall. We do have citizen's arrest which would then entail the police to be involved too.

I have never had that experience with the law, mine were much worse, right or wrong on my part. If this was a citizen's arrest it could have recourse on the mall owner. Same reason some shop owners don't pursue shoplifters.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:32 AM on March 5, 2003


Blessed are the PeaceMakers
posted by small_ruminant at 10:38 AM on March 5, 2003


I think I'll get a "think peace" T and wander around my local mall now.

Oh, wait. Nothing exciting will happen. This is in Canada, after all, where apparently we have such atrocious anti-free-speech laws that someone on MeFi has his shorts in a knot about it.

Fact is, Canada's hard-core anti-speech laws are well-represented by the "Terminiello v. Chicago" passage, above. Speech that is "likely to produce a clear and present danger of a serious substantive evil" is prosecuted (and then only when it's publicized).

And as our anti-speech laws are challenged -- by, for example, Little Sister's bookshop -- we find the restrictions become more focused. Gay porn isn't likely to produce &c above, so it is allowed. Zundel's fuckwitted ideas about exterminating the jews are likely to produce &c, and are not allowed.

It's all part of creating a civilized society. The key word here is "civil."
posted by five fresh fish at 10:39 AM on March 5, 2003


Sorry server keeps bombing out on me.

Here is the big picture folks. This mall set a precedent;

No: Christmas Winter Break carol slogan in print nor John Lennon's lyrics.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:42 AM on March 5, 2003


lol @ ROU_Xenophobe! That was great!
posted by ZupanGOD at 10:46 AM on March 5, 2003


...and I thought you were such a naice young man...

Yes I'm both, that is why I look at life from all sides.
posted by thomcatspike at 10:53 AM on March 5, 2003


Bag Man: In that case the court held people in de-facto town square are only protected if their state constitution grants them protection. It looks this case turns on that question, and whether the Crossgates Mall qualifies as a "town square."

This is the real question. I have a feeling the defense is going to have a hard time arguing this in lieu of any state mandates protecting large gathering halls or marketplaces that are held in private hands. The reality of large parts of our country, however, is that malls are the modern-day equivalents of town squares. After the invention of the automobile and subsequent suburbinization of large parts of this country, malls have supplanted more traditional gathering places like squares or halls. In towns littered with strip malls and gas stations and little else, a large mall has all but replaced the "town square" while still serving the same function: a concentration of shops and services. Does it matter that a mall is privately owned and didn't evolve naturally over time like a town square if its function is the same? I don't know myself, but it has the potential to be a very interesting case.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:57 AM on March 5, 2003


sure fold_and_mutilate, as if people can help the pigment of their skin being one shade to another. [rolls his eyes]
posted by ZupanGOD at 11:05 AM on March 5, 2003


I apologise for tarring all of the US as being as MM is on this.

It just seems worrying to this - and other - observers that, to borrow from science, an awful lot of frogs are oblivious to the warming water surrounding them right now.

Definitely time to speak out. Or jump out of the saucepan....

o/t: NO, NOT YOU, THOM!
posted by dash_slot- at 11:06 AM on March 5, 2003


Blessed are the peacemakers.
posted by JohnR at 11:09 AM on March 5, 2003


This is the real question. I have a feeling the defense is going to have a hard time arguing this in lieu of any state mandates protecting large gathering halls or marketplaces that are held in private hands

We have had similar cases. If recalling correctly, (could not find) a teen arrested in a grocery store for an obscene word on his shirt in the late 90's. It was in Texas, the store lost why it stuck out.
posted by thomcatspike at 11:22 AM on March 5, 2003


MidasMulligan Pro Bush supporters generally don't organize large public rallies (they don't need to protest, they are the majority), but don't believe for a second that there are not a lot of them, and that some of them aren't just as vehement and determined as any anti-war protester is.

I would like to futher that thought and add why I think the common phrase of the "silent majority" we so often hear actually indeed rings true. Most left leaning liberals are group oriented, or collectivists alltogether. They eat, drink, sleep, eat, smoke a group mentality. They are mostly anti-individual and pro-group. They identify people based by group, not by an individual identity. Since their whole psychology is wrapped up in group dynamics it is much more easier for them to gather as groups to protest their political enemies.
posted by ZupanGOD at 11:31 AM on March 5, 2003


Well now, isn't that up to the business to decide?

It is interesting that when you go off on things like this that you focus on only one end of the relationship. The business. Governments can, and have decided that businesses that offer public accomodations (of which the mall qualifies) can not discriminate in regards to specific categories, in many states including political affiliation. Secondly, while the business can make such decisions, consumers can point out that such decisions are blatantly unethical.

The national polls show particular percentages, but pro-Bush and anti-war sentiment is not evenly dispersed. Large urban areas - New York City, or Los Angeles - tend to be quite a bit more liberal than the norm. But a lot of rural America is not. Go to Iowa, or upsate New York, or eastern Montana, and you may find 80% or 90% support for Bush in rural communities. There are places where booting a protester out of a local mall would be the single best business decision a mall owner could make, and a large national outcry would actually lead the locals to support the business as a statement.

Actually, as someone who actually lives in "flyover country" I find that the differences in political opinion between urban and rural areas is overstated. Where there are differences I think they don't support your claim. I find there is a stronger ethos of respect for differences of opinion out here. Such an action may make the wingnuts happy but probably would not be well regarded in general.

But again, is it really a good idea for a business in a recession to tell even (to use your most skewed and unsupported citation) %10 of its customers that they are not welcome? (And this is completely forgetting that a good business would be suspicious of political discrimination because it is unethical.)

Pro-Bush supporters generally don't organize large public rallies (they don't need to protest, they are the majority), but don't believe for a second that there are not a lot of them, and that some of them aren't just as vehement and determined as any anti-war protester is.

True, but even the more vehement ones that I engage in dialog with are respectful of the rights of others to engage in debate or protest. It is not the case that being pro-Chickenhawk means being opposed to freedom of speech. Most conservatives are quite aware that something like this can turn around and bite them on the ass if it should be THEIR shirt that gets thrown out.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:39 AM on March 5, 2003


Pro-Bush supporters . . .don't need to protest, they are the majority

yeah, a lot has changed since November 7, 2000...

They identify people based by group, not by an individual identity. Since their whole psychology is wrapped up in group dynamics it is much more easier for them to gather as groups to protest their political enemies.

hee-hee. Didn't the little irony-light go on when you wrote that?
posted by Vidiot at 12:04 PM on March 5, 2003


Zupan, that's absolutely ridiculous.
Have some sort of documentation for that?

On Preview: What vidiot said.
posted by Espoo2 at 12:08 PM on March 5, 2003


Does it matter that a mall is privately owned and didn't evolve naturally over time like a town square if its function is the same?

According to the case law, it does not matter because the only place where it might apply is to a mall or anywhere else that is private property.

Are all malls "town squares?" I don't live in the burbs, but I've been to enough malls to figure that some are so small their function can hardly resemble a "town square." Civil_Disobedient, there is no pre se rule; the law that recognizes that malls comes in all shapes and sizes. For example, is a strip mall a "town square?"
posted by Bag Man at 12:28 PM on March 5, 2003


Hey, mkelley's link to the Shopping Center World article is really good. Question for Midas and others: Would you agree with the solution of the Colorado courts that found in favor of requiring access for political speech if public money was involved in a given mall's development?
posted by mediareport at 12:46 PM on March 5, 2003


This isn't about right versus left, pro-Bush versus pro-UN or Yee-Haw versus Oh, Dear.

This is a story about an individual who was confronted with a ridiculous and unacceptable demand in a privately owned public location.

Is there anybody here who can come up with a rational argument that the demand should be allowed to happen, and enforced by the police, in a country that refers to itself as the home of the free?
posted by mosch at 12:46 PM on March 5, 2003


Private property or no, I think the t-shirt guy has a decent chance of winning. See SHAD Alliance v. Smith Haven Mall, 488 N.E.2d 1211, 1218 (N.Y. 1995) (Jasen, J., concurring) ("I write to emphasize what I believe to be a critical limitation upon a shopping mall owner's right to exclude expressionist activity. In my view, where the owner of a shopping mall voluntarily and affirmatively creates a public forum or accommodation for expressionist activity, by inviting or permitting members of the general public to engage in noncommercial expressive conduct of a civic or community nature in the common areas of the mall, the owner cannot, at the same time, exclude particular expressionists upon purely discriminatory or arbitrary grounds."); see also Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971) (U.S. Supreme Court case holding that the state could not arrest a man for wearing the slogan "fuck the draft" in a county courthouse, because "at least so long as there is no showing of an intent to incite disobedience to or disruption of the draft, Cohen could not, consistently with the First and Fourteenth Amendments, be punished for asserting the evident position on the inutility or immorality of the draft his jacket reflected").
posted by Emera Gratia at 12:50 PM on March 5, 2003


Since their whole psychology is wrapped up in group dynamics it is much more easier for them to gather as groups to protest their political enemies.

My hometown is the yearly target of a church that busses in dozens of anti-gay protestors. When we passed a toothless revision to civil rights law discouraging anti-gay discrimination, so many bussed in that the city council meeting was moved to the church across the street. In fact protest is a rarity used when public policy does not allign with personal belief. We get anti-abortion protests every year on clockwork. And of course conservatives howled when the university asked them to use the dedicated free speech area. So I'm wondering where this individualism comes in during a time where the 38% opposing the war are "Bad Americans" according to O'Reilley, when not facing the flag is personally insulting, and Midas arugues that group economics is msre important than ethics or choice.

But again I disagree that conservatives are hunky dory with businesses making decisions on the basis of profit. The Osbournes has been the target of dozens of attacks. Conservatives howl every year when Disney and King's Island refuse to close their doors for red shirt day. Mattel just drew ire for lengerie barbie and magic earring ken. They howled when local theatres refused to foot the bill for "Taken Away" (a film that even friendly critics considered wretchedly bad. Instead, the theatre rented the space to activist groups wishing to shaw the film.)
posted by KirkJobSluder at 12:59 PM on March 5, 2003


Since "MeFi is has a dominant attitude towards Iraq," I think we should instruct Matt to ask MidasMulligan not to post here anymore. He couldn't possibly argue against that and be consistent.
posted by divrsional at 1:08 PM on March 5, 2003


Update: About 100 anti-war demonstrators marched through a mall Wednesday to protest the arrest of a shopper who wore a T-shirt that read ``Peace on Earth'' and ``Give Peace a Chance.''
posted by CunningLinguist at 1:19 PM on March 5, 2003


They howled when local theatres refused to foot the bill for "Taken Away" (a film that even friendly critics considered wretchedly bad. Instead, the theatre rented the space to activist groups wishing to shaw the film.)

Pardon my ignorance and poor showing in the Google-fu portion of the competion. What's "Taken Away"? I found a listing on IMDB for a short student film about boxing or something, but I'm thinking that's not it.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:22 PM on March 5, 2003


England has produced some of the most intolerant, insufferably snobbish people the world has ever seen.

Yeah, but we stuck 'em on a boat back in 1620.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 1:27 PM on March 5, 2003


It is interesting that when you go off on things like this that you focus on only one end of the relationship. The business.

This is because I'm a minority on MeFi, where the vast majority of posts will generally ignore that end of the relationship. It is interesting that when anti-war people "go off" on things like this, the assumption always seems to be that somehow people lose their right to hold their opinions the minute they start a business.

Governments can, and have decided that businesses that offer public accomodations (of which the mall qualifies) can not discriminate in regards to specific categories, in many states including political affiliation.

Yes. Exactly. This is a local decision. And according to the laws that govern that mall, those two people were breaking the law.

Secondly, while the business can make such decisions, consumers can point out that such decisions are blatantly unethical.

Indeed. And other consumers can patronize the mall for those same decisions. Anti-war protesters assume they have some sort of moral high ground. Believe it or not, a good number of Bush supporters hold their views based on an equally moral foundation - and consider those that defend a brutal dictator to be very misguided.

And let's talk about ethics. How "ethical" is it to hear one side of a story, immediately accept it as the entire truth, and on that basis leap to an instant condemnation of a business owner? The story, as it currently stands, seems to me to be missing a few things - it doesn't make sense. Were they simply walking around, or were they doing something that tried to call attention to themselves? The mall isn't commenting, because the mall can be sued - I'm certain its lawyers advised the owners not to comment. Point is, it is hardly "ethical" to condemn someone until you've heard both sides of the story.

Where there are differences I think they don't support your claim. I find there is a stronger ethos of respect for differences of opinion out here. Such an action may make the wingnuts happy but probably would not be well regarded in general.

I agree. I've lived in several such places. Such an action would probably not be well regarded, but such an action would never be necessary in the first place. I was in (for instance) Greenwich CT a couple of weeks ago - a bastion of genteel Republicanism if there ever was one. A group of about a half dozen protesters were standing with signs in the city park. No one yelled at them as they passed, nor showed them any disrespect. By the same token, these people would also never protest in a business, and would honor the wishes of a business owner if asked - because they extend the same respect to others that they wish for themselves.

But again, is it really a good idea for a business in a recession to tell even (to use your most skewed and unsupported citation) %10 of its customers that they are not welcome? (And this is completely forgetting that a good business would be suspicious of political discrimination because it is unethical.)

Well again - that is up to the business owner, isn't it? It may be that the business owner did a rational calculation, and thinks that s/he would lose more than 10% of customers if the mall became a place where political activities took place ... i.e., it may be someone that is not left or right, but rather just wants to maintain a non-political atmosphere. Even if, however, the mall is owned by a far-right hawk, who has decided that for purly political reasons that s/he will not permit political activities by one particular perspective on the premises - even if it hurt the business - isn't that his or her right? Anti-war protesters make all sorts sacrifices for what they believe in. They'll miss work to go to protests, & etc. And there are other businesses that are anti-war ... who put signs in their windows, or take other steps to state their opinions. Should they not do this? Or is it a case in which when an antiwar believer makes such a statement (despite the fact that businesses doing this in a recession are telling at least 60% their customers that they aren't "welcome") it is a noble sacrifice for a principled stand, whereas when someone holding the opposite view - on what they believe is an equally moral foundation - acts in a similar fashion, they should be held up for public condemnation?

Or is it really a matter of rights - where the same principles that give you the right to determine the atmosphere of your home, or your business, gives me the right to do so with mine? Condemn my perspective if you wish, but it would never occur to me that I had some sort of "right" to determine how you conducted a business that you sacrificed to start and run. And anyone that thought they had the right to walk into my business, and get into the faces of my customers - is someone that I believe would be on very shaky ground both legally and ethically.
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:32 PM on March 5, 2003


What Emera Gratia said.

I work for a company that owns a number of malls and we are quite sensitive to issues like this. Yes the mall is private property but two issues come into play:

1. Mall customers are invitees - people who we've essentially asked to come onto the property; and

2. There is a body of case law that supports the concept of malls as a "public square" - that you can't prohibit law abiding citizens from coming to your mall any more than the police can prevent you from walking down the street.

In other words the commercial and public nature of a mall implies (or requires?) that a 'just cause' test be employed when excluding the public. Where I work, the wearing of an inarguably non-offensive t-shirt is not just cause for throwing people off the premises.

A bad decision that could cost the company some money.
posted by krtzmrk at 1:34 PM on March 5, 2003


Hmph. I've been thrown out of malls for wearing this shirt for years, and I never asked the ACLU for help.
posted by nomisxid at 1:36 PM on March 5, 2003


This guy will have to do public service. When you dive into a swimming pool's shallow end after they ask you not to, you get kicked out. If you resist, you're tresspassing.

Nice, nomisxid. And when they ask you to leave, you leave? Heck yeah, that's the way it works. If you don't leave, you cause a problem, you then get arrested.
posted by tomplus2 at 1:43 PM on March 5, 2003


It seems to me that many of the posters here seem to be under the impression that simply walking in a mall shopping while wearing a tee shirt is on some way an "assembly" and a "protest". These were two people who bought new tee shirts and wanted to wear them. They weren't preaching to the masses. They weren't carrying signs or handing out leaflets. They were shopping in a mall like millions of people do every day.

Then some pro-war rent-a-cop got offended because, MY GODS ... there were peace lovers in the building, and decided to make an issue of it.

It's completely ludicrous. I have several tee shirts with sayings on them that would be construed then as offensive: John Lennon photo with Give Peace a Chance, an Earth Day tee that says Peace on Earth, and even my Just Say No tee could be construed as offensive by someone who wasn't sure what I was saying no to (no to war, no to drugs, no to shopping in malls, who knows).

Can I get off this boat now? I think it's taking on water.
posted by Orb at 1:44 PM on March 5, 2003


Midas:the assumption always seems to be that somehow people lose their right to hold their opinions the minute they start a business.

Of course that's nonsense. No one has said that business owners can't hold their own political opinions. The issue here is whether businesses can deny service to those with whose political opinions they disagree.

a good number of Bush supporters hold their views based on an equally moral foundation - and consider those that defend a brutal dictator to be very misguided.

"defend a brutal dictator"? More straw. Please get it through your head: opposing Bush's war-at-any-cost policy doesn't equal, or even resemble, defending Saddam's regime.
posted by Ty Webb at 1:53 PM on March 5, 2003


Since "MeFi is has a dominant attitude towards Iraq," I think we should instruct Matt to ask MidasMulligan not to post here anymore. He couldn't possibly argue against that and be consistent.

As matter of fact, I wouldn't argue against it - and this is the essence of our differences I think ... and the behavior of several people of MeFi is quite telling. I do think Matt started, and runs, this board. If he wanted to get rid of any post that was contrary to a particular belief, I would not cry "censorship", nor bitch about how my rights had been trampled upon. If he told me never to post on MeFi again, I wouldn't. Voluntarily, and with an attitude of respect for his wishes. In fact he did put a large notice about posting about Iraq up - and because of it, I have not posted several different articles as FPP's - because I believe he has the right to run MeFi the way he wishes, and I'll comply with his wishes if I want to be here.

I do notice, however, that the same mentality that screams about it's "rights" also seems to be one that feels free to totally blow Matt's request off, and on a virtually daily basis posts FPP's that clearly run contrary to his request. So I can easily understand how people that don't believe they even owe Matt any respect - the owner of a board where their opinion dominates - I'd hardly expect them to believe the owner of a business that doesn't agree with them has any rights at all.

These were two people who bought new tee shirts and wanted to wear them. They weren't preaching to the masses. They weren't carrying signs or handing out leaflets. They were shopping in a mall like millions of people do every day.

Ahhh ... now that's the thing - how exactly do you know this? One side of the story is in the press. Period.

Where I work, the wearing of an inarguably non-offensive t-shirt is not just cause for throwing people off the premises. A bad decision that could cost the company some money.

Yes ... it sounds as though you do understand the mall management's perspective - same thing occurs to me. The story - as it is currently told - doesn't quite make sense.
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:57 PM on March 5, 2003


Don't have that much to add to the legal discussion here except to note he SCOTUS case Marsh v. Alabama (1946) is highly relevant here. It found that a "company town" (town entirely owned by a mining company) nevertheless had to respect the free speech rights of its citizens. Its debatable whether you can analogize a company town to a mall, but I could definitely see such an argument.
posted by boltman at 2:02 PM on March 5, 2003


My point, MM, is that Matt would NOT ask you not to post.

There is no question that the Crosslands Mall had the right to express its quite overtly political opinion. However, a right and an obligation are two very different things.
posted by divrsional at 2:43 PM on March 5, 2003


Vidiot: hee-hee. Didn't the little irony-light go on when you wrote that?

Actually not really. I'm refering to the fact that left leaning liberals champion a group think mentality. I mean it's kind of impossible not to think so if the majority of those who have organized these protests are socialists and collectivism I'd say is important to them.

Espoo2: Zupan, that's absolutely ridiculous.
Have some sort of documentation for that?


Well it's no secret or anything. The modern left champions group identity and group status over individuality.

KirkJobSluder: [cut becuase of length]

Actually I think your missing the point. I'm speaking politcally here not in a personal way of describing a group of people. I whole heartly agree about your assement about groups of people protesting for a specific cause, and I share your attitude on the conservatives. I live in Orlando myself and have partcipated in the red shirt days myself. Anyways, my point is there is a fundamental difference between those who politicaly identify people based on group identity and status and those who identify people based on individuality. That's all. And I know that the vast majority of the people who oppose the war are prodiminatley marxist, socialist, and modern liberals. And the crux of their political philosophy is oriented towards group identity and status. The vast majority of these protestors are of that stripe. But what about the 38% who oppose the war that you speak of? Yes according to the polls there is a considerable number of people who oppose this war, but are all of them far left liberals or are these people who are just individuals who oppose war and do not share enough common cause with those who are proesting? My guess the latter.

posted by ZupanGOD at 2:49 PM on March 5, 2003


I think I'll have to agree with some of the posters above who made the distinction between having a legal right and being right. By analogy - I have a perfect legal right to cheat on my girlfriend, gossip about my friend's closest secrets, and launch random ad hominem attacks on other MeFi posters. Of course, if I were to do so, no one would feel sorry for me when my girlfriend dumped me, my friends shunned me, and Matt kicked me off Metafilter. Still, I would be in the clear legally, despite being an asshole. From the legal links posted above, it seems that in New York the mall management was legally within their rights, despite being assholes.

MM - you are right in saying we only have one side to the story. If it is later revealed that the man was jumping up and down, screaming "Everybody come read my t-shirt!!",and refused to stop screaming about it, then I will apologize for calling the mall management assholes. Based on my past experience with people in general, I'm inclined to doubt that will be the case. More likely, some underpaid, undertrained rent-a-cop with a bad attitude decided to enforce his jingoistic interpretation of patriotism on the patrons of the mall, and upper management didn't find out about it until the whole thing was over. Even so, I'll call them assholes for not reprimanding the security guard & inviting the customer and his t-shirt back to the mall. If the decision did come from the top, I can't say as I'd think much of it as a rational business decision. I'm left leaning, but I would avoid going to a mall that banned pro-Bush t-shirts, because I happen to be a pretty big supporter of free speech. Also, the mall management needs to be looking out for the business interests of all the shop owners. If the mall owner is kicking out anyone whose political views (as expressed on a t-shirt) they dislike, then they may be hurting the business of individual shop-owners, who might even agree with the t-shirt. BTW - I'd be more supportive of the moral right of an individual shopkeeper who kicked out patrons he/she disagreed with, since that shopkeeper would only be hurting themselves, not other businesses. Also, while a mall walkway might have a claim to being somewhat of a public commons (depending on local case law), an individual shop would not.
posted by tdismukes at 2:53 PM on March 5, 2003


I do notice, however, that the same mentality that screams about it's "rights" also seems to be one that feels free to totally blow Matt's request off, and on a virtually daily basis posts FPP's that clearly run contrary to his request. So I can easily understand how people that don't believe they even owe Matt any respect - the owner of a board where their opinion dominates - I'd hardly expect them to believe the owner of a business that doesn't agree with them has any rights at all.

Werd.

I know if I want to get the scoop on what evil Bush is upto on a daily basis I know just where to find the information.. on Metafilter! Thank Gawd for the internet.
posted by ZupanGOD at 3:00 PM on March 5, 2003


whatever: "Am I the only one who sees the irony in the fact that you can buy the shirt at this mall but you can't wear the shirt in this mall?"

Red Herring, you an buy tobacco in a grocery store but you can't smoke 'em there.

From CunningLinguist's update link:

"We just want to know what the policy is and why it's being randomly enforced," said Erin O'Brien . . .

Why should they have to say why it's randomly enforced? Even if it's considered a "Public Square"?

This mall is known to be different, when a person is reported to be "bothering" another that person is banned from the mall for a year. If they return they are arrested, no prior paperwork issued.

Obviously this was planned by Downs -- an out of town Judge with a point to make. Fortunately he'll probably be treated the same as the numerous jerks who've come before him. I don't see any precedents being set here.
posted by DBAPaul at 3:13 PM on March 5, 2003


The criminal complaint, courtesy of The Smoking Gun.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:14 PM on March 5, 2003


Of course that's nonsense. No one has said that business owners can't hold their own political opinions. The issue here is whether businesses can deny service to those with whose political opinions they disagree.

The post I was thinking of talked about a business owner not being able to "defend" the stance taken. If I told this individual that I was going presume to judge what he did in his house, and that I thought the actions he took there could not be "defended" - he'd very likely ask me exactly why I thought he had the need to "defend" himself to me in the first place. In other words, why would I assume that simply because he owned a home, I had a right to demand that he either live in it the way I wanted, or defend himself for not doing so? Most business owners have the same feeling about their businesses that homeowners have about their homes. I own a business, and I do feel a duty to "defend" my business decisions to my investors and clients, but not to any random fuckwit on the street that thinks his opinion ought to matter to me.

On Mefi, any corporation mentioned is generally guilty until proven innocent (and half the time is still guilty even if proven innocent).

"defend a brutal dictator"? More straw. Please get it through your head: opposing Bush's war-at-any-cost policy doesn't equal, or even resemble, defending Saddam's regime.

Please get this through your head ... this is not some black and white situation where "anti-war" means moral, and "pro-Bush" means immoral. At the conceptual level, where the UN tea parties take place, I fully understand that the antiwar stand doesn't equate to defending Saddam's regime. However, at the functional level - where Iraqis live - it most definately does. He will remain in power unless he is removed from power.

I have a lot of friends that are antiwar, and I respect them for their beliefs. I, personally, believe we have a duty to remove him ... and I believe this based on a moral foundation. During the first gulf war, our President encouraged Iraqis to rise against Saddam. Many of them, did. We, however, decided to withdraw our support and join the UN in imposing conditions. I think we were ethically wrong to do so. Saddam regrouped, and his loyalists raped, tortured, and murdered thousands of people who had come forward because we promised support. These people died because George Bush Sr. did not keep a promise we, as Americans, made to the Iraqi people. Further, over the past decade, Saddam has ignored 17 or 18 different UN resolutions (including those he agreed to as the conditions required to allow him to remain in power), and to this day maintains total, dictatorial control over the population. In fact, estimates are that over the last 10 or 15 years he has killed close to one million of his own citizens.

France got its panties in a bunch over eastern bloc countries supporting the US - but it is not difficult to see why they did ... nor why France would be so upset about it. We in the western world may talk about peace, and about war being "hell", and may claim that in protesting the war, we are speaking for the Iraqi people - but people that lived for decades under totalitarian rule know that this is bullshit. I think few people in western democracies can understand how a decade of "peace" could possibly be a greater hell than 3 months of war ... but those that experienced 25 years of Nicolae Ceausescu do know what this means. To them, the correct "moral" solution is not even open to question: If you truly care about the Iraqi people, invade immediately.

I don't care what global public opinion is, or whether movie stars leave their mansions and take a few moments out from their busy schedules to take dramatic stands. We - Americans (not Russia or Germany or France) - made a commitment to the Iraqi people. Many Iraqis died because we broke it - and I think that commitment is still pending. Saddam Hussain has not reformed, has not lived up to any of the commitments he made to stay in power. And to this day he exerts the same totalitarian rule he did a decade ago.

I believe we - America - has a moral duty to keep its promise. To remove Saddam Hussain, and give a considerable amount of aid to the Iraqis in the rebuilding of their country.

Antiwar protesters may want to emphasize the intellectual difference between being against the war, and supporting Saddam's regime ... but that difference is meaningless to both Saddam, and the Iraqi population. Western intellectuals are very nuanced - but dictatorships are binary ... either a dictator is forcibly removed, or he stays in power. And whether you like it or not, regardless of the fine distinctions that you wish to make, this means that you either support his removal, or you support the continuance of his regime.
posted by MidasMulligan at 3:15 PM on March 5, 2003


Protestors descend on site of T-shirt arrest.

apparently people are pissed off. None of these actual, vocal protestors were arrested. Hopefully our homeland mall directors got the message.

This is a huge thread. I'm not sure if anyone mentioned the fact that mall security guards are bitches. So are employees of Macys, especially if they're employees of the little fake Macys in malls. Bunch of passive-aggressive pukes, completely repressed and boiling over with pent-up rage.

I've got my hippie beard about halfway grown out. It's been a month, and next month I plan to go into full-on hippie mode. With this beard, and a couple of tie-dyed clothing items, I should be able to find out what all the fuss is about over these hippies and report back here.
posted by son_of_minya at 3:17 PM on March 5, 2003


The story - as it is currently told - doesn't quite make sense.

I made light above about the defense's own words from, other sources
posted by Pretty_Generic at 3:29 AM CST on March 5.

Which reads to me as he wanted to be arrested.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:22 PM on March 5, 2003


Midas:

There are a number of problems with your reasoning here largely because it is based on a large number of straw men.

First: No one is arguing that businessmen do not have rights to political expression. However, those rights must be balanced against the rights of the customers. Running certain classes of businesses require that you do not discriminate against certain classes of customers. You are not obligated to provide services of interest to all customers. McDonald's is not obligated to provide vegetarian sandwitches, and Christian Bookstores are not obligated to stock The Humanist. But those businesses can not deny me service as a Humanist Vegetarian. I believe that jurisdictions that include political affiliation are on the right track in this matter.

Second: Every profession has a set of ethical responsibilities in addition to legal obligations. It may be legal for me to sell my services where they are not needed, but it certainly is not ethical. Likewise, I believe that shopkeepers have an ethical obligation to serve all customers regardless of political belief. My favorite quick place to eat is a gay-friendly bagel shop downtown. Every year a church busses in anti-gay protesters into the park across the street. I respect the owner because she shows them the same courtesy that she shows everyone else in Bloomington as long as they are polite to her. Likewise I respect Matt because I have never seen a case where he has told someone to leave metafilter for political reasons. (And to challenge your ad hom. attack, I respect Matt's request and have not posted either newsfilter or Iraq FPP.)

Third: Businesses that offer public accomodations are not eqivalent to private homes.

Fourth: No one is talking about getting into the faces of customers. We are talking about t-shirts which is about as passive a form of protest as you can get. Everyone seems to agree that there was no problem with the mall removing 20 protesters. But two people wearing shirts is not an "in your face" protest. Ignoring legality here, when is it appropriate to deny service on the basis of clothing?

Fifth: The fact that I am a consumer gives me more than enough rights to express my opinions about how I want to be treated as a customer. It would never in a million years cross my mind to ask someone outside of a school setting to remove a t-shirt because I found it offensive.

ZupanGOD: And I know that the vast majority of the people who oppose the war are prodiminatley marxist, socialist, and modern liberals. And the crux of their political philosophy is oriented towards group identity and status. The vast majority of these protestors are of that stripe. But what about the 38% who oppose the war that you speak of? Yes according to the polls there is a considerable number of people who oppose this war, but are all of them far left liberals or are these people who are just individuals who oppose war and do not share enough common cause with those who are proesting?

Whoah, a vast majority of 38% are marxist, socialist and modern liberals? Liberals I believe (because just about anything to the left of Bush is considered "liberal" these days) but it astounds me that even though socalist and communist parties manage to get less than 1% at the polls that suddenly there is this huge plurality of marxist opposition to the war. There are members of the far left at protest but I also see local ministers, mainstream quakers, and a bunch of people who simply disbelieve that a dictator with no armor, a small infantry and a handful of short range missiles is a threat serious enough to jusitfy preemptive invasion.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:28 PM on March 5, 2003


And whether you like it or not, regardless of the fine distinctions that you wish to make, this means that you either support his removal, or you support the continuance of his regime.

It's not a fine distinction, it's a very basic one. And you don't have to convince me of the need to remove Saddam, or of the necessity of force. I happen to support Bush in this effort, despite the tone-deaf and diplomatically retarded way his administration is going about it. In this, I differ from many of my close friends, all of whom support the removal of Saddam, by the way. I've had many chances to debate opposing views, and I need to point out that the whole "anti-war=support for Saddam" canard doesn't carry any weight outside of the right-wing echo chamber.
posted by Ty Webb at 3:53 PM on March 5, 2003


England has produced some of the most intolerant, insufferably snobbish people the world has ever seen.

Never realized we were so unpopular around here... my mistake... bye.
posted by normy at 3:54 PM on March 5, 2003


When I was in college, some friends and I went to the local mall. We wore sunglasses, gloves, and shirts that had slogans promoting shoplifting. We called ourselves the Revolutionary Shoplifting Army. We carried shopping bags filled with junk and went to several stores, trying to act suspicious.

Eventually, security caught up with us and asked us to leave. When we asked why, he made up a story that we were hassling people, which was not the case. We argued with him a bit more and then ran out as fast as we could. It was great fun.

I applaud the lawyer for doing what he did, but he, like us, knew what would happen. I doubt they would kick a person out who was wearing a shirt that said "Attack Iraq Now." And if they did, a few Mefites would be up in arms.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 4:05 PM on March 5, 2003


Most business owners have the same feeling about their businesses that homeowners have about their homes. I own a business, and I do feel a duty to "defend" my business decisions to my investors and clients, but not to any random fuckwit on the street that thinks his opinion ought to matter to me.

That's funny. Most of the business owners I know have a healthy compartmentalization. They may not like what all of their employees and customers do while not at the business, but it's generally a good idea to keep business and personal life separated.

I disagree that businesses become some sacrisanct entity that we dare not presume to talk about because you feel this sentimental attachment to it. Nor do I feel that homelife is immune to discussion and criticism either. We can use this case to talk about the generalities of rights of business owners vs. rights of business patrons without having the tons of evidence that will come out of this case.

In abstract, I believe that for some classes of business the rights of the business owner should be limited, you seem to believe that the rights of the business owner should be unlimited. In addition I feel that shopkeepers have an ethical obligation to serve all patrons regardless of political affiliation.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:07 PM on March 5, 2003


Did the gentleman in question actually cause a disturbance until the security guards asked them to leave? That's my question.

None of the news articles I have read seem to indicate that this is the case.
posted by moonbiter at 4:18 PM on March 5, 2003


Original criminal complaint here. Note "Received complaints that they were stopping other shoppers." "They were stopping customers." "Request they stop bothering customers."
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 4:21 PM on March 5, 2003


Based on the documents posted at TheSmokingGun, the main problem is this:
The mall security did not attempt to discover who started the disruption (if it actually happened). They assumed it was the two people wearing the T-shirts, but it could have been other people confronting those two. Did they bother to find out? I doubt it.

Consider two punks shopping in the mall who are confronted by two clean-cut males. Someone sees the confrontation and reports it to security. Who do you think is going to get the boot?

I doubt the mall's policy lists the types of sayings that it does not allow on clothing. Instead, anything offensive is based on the tastes of some security guard, who might not like your T-shirt the next time you go shopping.
posted by strangeleftydoublethink at 4:22 PM on March 5, 2003


McDonald's is not obligated to provide vegetarian sandwitches, and Christian Bookstores are not obligated to stock The Humanist. But those businesses can not deny me service as a Humanist Vegetarian. I believe that jurisdictions that include political affiliation are on the right track in this matter.

They cannot deny you service because of your beliefs - they can deny you service because of your actions. If you decided to protest for abortion rights in a Christian bookstore, or tried to hold a PETA rally in a McDonalds, they'd have the right to remove you.

Second: Every profession has a set of ethical responsibilities in addition to legal obligations. It may be legal for me to sell my services where they are not needed, but it certainly is not ethical. Likewise, I believe that shopkeepers have an ethical obligation to serve all customers regardless of political belief.

I understand this perspective - however, it is nothing but your belief. And if you own a shop, you are free to express that belief. However, other shopkeepers are also free to decide for themselves what they are ethically required to do - and may have belief systems that are simultaneously different than yours, and still based on ethical thought.

And to challenge your ad hom. attack, I respect Matt's request and have not posted either newsfilter or Iraq FPP.

You haven't - in fact a number of people haven't ... however, a not inconsiderable number of people more definately have.

Third: Businesses that offer public accomodations are not eqivalent to private homes.

Nor are they entirely different however. There is an additional body of law that applies to them - they cannot discrimminate based on race for instance - however they also do have a number of responsibilities ... which gives them additional rights. (You cannot say a restaurant is legally required to follow a health code without also giving it the power to forbid people from bringing pets in). If the guys wearing the T-Shirts were doing something to attract attention, and some incident was possible in which a pro-bush supporter and the antiwar guys got into an argument ... it is the mall owner that would be held legally liable for anything that happened.

Fourth: No one is talking about getting into the faces of customers. We are talking about t-shirts which is about as passive a form of protest as you can get. Everyone seems to agree that there was no problem with the mall removing 20 protesters. But two people wearing shirts is not an "in your face" protest. Ignoring legality here, when is it appropriate to deny service on the basis of clothing?

Big point. We don't know what we are talking about here. We know one side of what we are talking about. Context is important. If the previous protest distrubed people in the mall (just as a for instance), and the anti-war protest was not just broken up because the mall didn't want a protest, but because arguments, or a potentially volitile scene was developing ... then yes - security guards seeing two guys "wearing similar T-shirts" to the past protest could easily be perceived as people beginning to gather for another event - that they'd want to stop before it started.

Fifth: The fact that I am a consumer gives me more than enough rights to express my opinions about how I want to be treated as a customer.

You do have the right to express your opinions as a consumer. You can boycott the business, walk in and talk to the owner, write a letter, etc., etc. However, the rights of the person as a business owner are fully equal to yours. He can agree with you, completely ignore you, or decide that your opinion is a minority one - and choose what he believes is desired by a majority of his customers.
posted by MidasMulligan at 4:30 PM on March 5, 2003


Hieronymous: Thanks for the link. Doesn't quite clear things up, but give us more information about this (to my mind) important detail than any of the press stories.
posted by moonbiter at 4:32 PM on March 5, 2003


dhacker: Actually, you can't buy this shirt at the mall - and they didn't. You can go to a custom t-shirt shop at the mall and have them make the shirt for you using the letters they have at their disposal.

That's some serious hair-splitting.

I do love the comparison of publicly wearing a t-shirt you just bought with publicly using a dildo you just bought. Makes me want to open a mall store (a small kiosk would be best) where you can get your dildos personalized. How about "Give this piece a chance" on a 10 inch dildo in the shape of a scud missile?

One more thing, if I buy an axe at Sears, but I'm parked on the other side of the mall, how do I get the axe to my car. Is carrying an axe the same as wielding an axe?
posted by whatever at 4:35 PM on March 5, 2003


They cannot deny you service because of your beliefs - they can deny you service because of your actions. If you decided to protest for abortion rights in a Christian bookstore, or tried to hold a PETA rally in a McDonalds, they'd have the right to remove you.

Well again, we are talking about clothing here. By your argument, a shopkeeper would be entirely justified in removing Sikhs who wear turbans and women who wear Burquas if they believe that the majority of their customers desire it. After all, although they cannot deny service because of religious belief, they can deny service because of religious action.

If I wear a Darwin Fish to a Chistian Bookstore or a PeTA shirt to McDonalds the worst that should happen is just dirty looks.

You do have the right to express your opinions as a consumer. You can boycott the business, walk in and talk to the owner, write a letter, etc., etc. However, the rights of the person as a business owner are fully equal to yours. He can agree with you, completely ignore you, or decide that your opinion is a minority one - and choose what he believes is desired by a majority of his customers.

Well, this is the main point of disagreement. I do not believe that shopkeepers should posess the right to deny service based on the political content of clothing, and that denying service on that basis should be considered a civil rights violation.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 4:57 PM on March 5, 2003


My pleasure, moonbiter. I agree that the press so far has played up the spectacle and done a poor job reporting important details that would recast the issue not as FA$CISTS CRUSH DISSENT!?! but as

1. What data did the cops have about disturbances?
2. How to balance the legitimate interests of individuals and property owners?
3. Was this a wise business decision? & etc.

Actually, strike #3. Depending on the answer to #1, the poor property owner may have had little choice but to call the cops...
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 5:09 PM on March 5, 2003


Hieronymous: Thanks for the link. Doesn't quite clear things up, but give us more information about this (to my mind) important detail than any of the press stories.

Yes ... the other side of the story generally is helpful - and often changes the picture quite a bit.

Well again, we are talking about clothing here.

MM - you are right in saying we only have one side to the story. If it is later revealed that the man was jumping up and down, screaming "Everybody come read my t-shirt!!",and refused to stop screaming about it, then I will apologize for calling the mall management assholes. Based on my past experience with people in general, I'm inclined to doubt that will be the case.

It's now sounding like this actually may have been the case - or at least that their portrayal of themselves as two guys just strolling quietly through the mall minding their own business may have left a few things out.

I've had many chances to debate opposing views, and I need to point out that the whole "anti-war=support for Saddam" canard doesn't carry any weight outside of the right-wing echo chamber.

Hope you don't mind if I point out that the "canard" also seems to carry a bit of weight in the echo-chambers of countries that have lived under dictators. And in fact seems to resonate with more than a few Iraqis - who the antiwar folks are allegedly protesting for.

My point, MM, is that Matt would NOT ask you not to post.

No - your point was consistancy. You were trying to draw an analogy and expose some flaw in my argument - and it didn't work. If he did ask me not to post, I wouldn't post, voluntarily, and with no recriminations - because I respect his right as an owner of MeFi. I also noticed more than a few posts - almost daily - that are overwhemingly on one side of the Iraq issue (the side that is yelling the loudest about their rights not being respected), despite a fairly clear request from Matt. There is inconsistancy here. But it isn't on my side of the table.
posted by MidasMulligan at 5:13 PM on March 5, 2003


I guess I'm wondering is does this information matter? It is quite possible to argue that business owners have the right to remove people who are harassing other customers without invoking an ethical license for businessowners to discriminate on an arbitrary basis. The former has not been under question, the latter has.

Midas: No - your point was consistancy. You were trying to draw an analogy and expose some flaw in my argument - and it didn't work. If he did ask me not to post, I wouldn't post, voluntarily, and with no recriminations - because I respect his right as an owner of MeFi. I also noticed more than a few posts - almost daily - that are overwhemingly on one side of the Iraq issue (the side that is yelling the loudest about their rights not being respected), despite a fairly clear request from Matt. There is inconsistancy here. But it isn't on my side of the table.

I don't have a doubt that you would. On the other hand, I also have doubts that if asked to leave due to your stated politics, that you would regard his decision as entirely ethical. Especially given the bellyaching about "leftwing bias" on metafilter.

But a question here. Your paradigm in which business owners have absolute right in deciding who gets served suggests that segregation, while illegal, is entirely ethical if it produces the best profit margin. Is this correct? Under what conditions is discrimination not permissable under your "ethical" framework? And what happened to the values of customer service?
posted by KirkJobSluder at 5:42 PM on March 5, 2003


A quick point: there is a potentially huge difference between talking about the rights of shopkeeper/owners and the rights of mall owners. The legal (and, I would argue, ethical) question is where does it fall on the spectrum between "town square" and "private residence." A warehouse or office building not open to the public is pretty darn close to a private residence. A little antique shop or doctor's office, less so. A big department store or a casino much less so. An enclosed mall is light years away.

I actually wouldn't have a problem with a shop owner kicking somebody out of their store for wearing a shirt they found offensive. I do have a problem with a mall kicking someone out though, since it is so much like a public space.
posted by boltman at 6:24 PM on March 5, 2003


"He said, she said" but the mall is dropping the charges.
posted by moonbiter at 6:37 PM on March 5, 2003


I don't have a doubt that you would. On the other hand, I also have doubts that if asked to leave due to your stated politics, that you would regard his decision as entirely ethical. Especially given the bellyaching about "leftwing bias" on metafilter.

You may doubt it if you wish - but I know how I think better than you do. My own personal belief is that individuals have a complete right to determine the nature of something they create. And deserve all the benefits of its success - and should shoulder all the risks of its failure. A discussion board is trivial. Even if someone I worked for in the past fired me from a job because he didn't like my politics, I would not sue, nor claim discrimmination ... or even be angry. I would never want to work - or shop - at any business that did not want me there. Simple as that.

And my "bellyaching" about the left wing bias here is usually to point out how distorted a view of America sits on this board. I'm actually considered right-wing to far right-wing here ... but my perspective - in the larger world - is fairly close to the center of the mainstream in the US.

But a question here. Your paradigm in which business owners have absolute right in deciding who gets served suggests that segregation, while illegal, is entirely ethical if it produces the best profit margin. Is this correct?

No, that is incorrect. In my personal life, I absolutely repsect the wishes of any business owner. If I'm on the property of someone else, and they ask me to leave, I'll leave. In terms of society, business owners do have justifiable limitations placed upon them. What I've been arguing in this thread is not that they have some absolute right, but that they don't have less rights than any other citizen. I'm arguing against the notion that a protester has an "absolute" right to not only hold his views, but express them anytime, anywhere, and in any fashion, with no limitations.

Under what conditions is discrimination not permissable under your "ethical" framework? And what happened to the values of customer service?

Under what conditions in your "ethical" framework can someone be forced to leave? It sounds as though the mall was practicing "customer service". If it was receiving complaints for other customers, and these people had decided to use the mall for their own ends, then yes - they were rightly asked to leave - but only after they were first asked to simply stop doing what they were doing. And refused.

Further, people have become accustomed to holding businesses responsible for events on their property. The mall has to pay a not inconsiderable amount of general liability insurance. Why? Because, for instance, if a couple of people caused a scene, and a fight broke out, and several people were hurt in that fight, the mall would get sued (perhaps even by the instigators ... it does happen). The mall is legally responsible for the safety of its patrons. But it is not "ethical" to hold mall owners responsible without also giving them the power to enforce that responsibility. They do not want potentially volitile situations to develop. They do have the right take steps to try to stop them before they happen - it is a right that comes from the libaility they face for not stopping them.

In this case - it is not the mall, but the man that acted with no ethics, and no respect. It certainly sounds as though he was doing more than just walking through the mall - he was engaging in activities that upset other patrons. He was first asked to simply stop it. He didn't. Then he was asked to leave. He refused. Yet it is the legality and morals of the business owners - not his - that have been called into question here. By the same people that would probably be screaming that the mall was responsible if he started a fight and got the crap kicked out of himself.
posted by MidasMulligan at 7:52 PM on March 5, 2003


MidasMulligan: I love it when people tell me the point of something I said.

hint: that last sentence was sarcastic.

I can't help it if you choose not to see both the subtext of my original post and the big picture of this thread. However, your unwillingness to see that point doesn't change it: Telling people they cannot express their political opinions is always wrong. Those who argue in favor of gray area exceptions appear to have an agenda inconsistent with free speech.
posted by divrsional at 8:00 PM on March 5, 2003


That's some serious hair-splitting.
It is indeed, I'm not making any judgements here - just pointing out the facts. They didn't buy a shirt that was readily for sale to anyone, they specifically created the messages on the shirt.
posted by dhacker at 8:39 PM on March 5, 2003


MidasMulligan - lets say for a second that you owned a mall and by some strange organizational faux pas you're also the only security guard. and lets say a patron comes up to you and says, "hey this dude has on a pro-peace shirt and I guess I'm anti-peace or something so could you make him leave?," what would you do, and how would you feel about it?
posted by mcsweetie at 8:57 PM on March 5, 2003


Many years ago Mojo Nixon said :

Burn down the malls
Burn down the malls
Burn down the shoppin' malls

Hey you ever get the feelin that America is turning into some kinda sit-com?
lowest common denominator shopping mall marketing strategy from hell?
You ever get that feeling?
Well I got that feeling right now and it's kinda getting under my skin
yeah
so get some gasoline and

Burn down the malls SAY IT
Burn down the malls LOUDER
Burn down the malls

You know it just started out as a kind of corner store
Then it turned into a shopping center
Oh I remember the shoppin' center openings man
they used to have those big lights shinin' up
but now...
Now, where do the old folks go?
Where do the young kids go?
What's America, what's America turning into?
Mondo-condo-shopping-mall-hell

Preach on, Brother Mojo.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 9:18 PM on March 5, 2003


In terms of society, business owners do have justifiable limitations placed upon them. What I've been arguing in this thread is not that they have some absolute right, but that they don't have less rights than any other citizen. I'm arguing against the notion that a protester has an "absolute" right to not only hold his views, but express them anytime, anywhere, and in any fashion, with no limitations.

Straw man, go directly to jail, do not pass go, do not collect $200.

No one has argued the position that the protester has the absolute right to express views without limitations. Throughout this discussion I made it abundantly clear that I feel the mall is justified in asking groups of protesters to leave, and in asking patrons to not pass out material. But the question that you keep dodging is what are the "justifiable limitations?" So you agree that even if legal, segregation is not ethical. Is it ethical to discriminate on the basis of religious garb if said garb offends a majority of patrons? What about buttons identifying one as a member of the Natural Law party?

Under what conditions in your "ethical" framework can someone be forced to leave? It sounds as though the mall was practicing "customer service". If it was receiving complaints for other customers, and these people had decided to use the mall for their own ends, then yes - they were rightly asked to leave - but only after they were first asked to simply stop doing what they were doing. And refused.

You are ducking the question here, and I already answered yours, it is entirely reasonable to a person who is harassing other customers, without invoking some non-existent right to remove a person because they disagree with you politically. If the person in engaging in harassment, or is jepordizing the health and safety of other patrons then asking them to leave is justified, not liking the message on a t-shirt is not justified. Under what grounds is it not justifiable to deny service?

Further, people have become accustomed to holding businesses responsible for events on their property. The mall has to pay a not inconsiderable amount of general liability insurance. Why? Because, for instance, if a couple of people caused a scene, and a fight broke out, and several people were hurt in that fight, the mall would get sued (perhaps even by the instigators ... it does happen). The mall is legally responsible for the safety of its patrons. But it is not "ethical" to hold mall owners responsible without also giving them the power to enforce that responsibility. They do not want potentially volitile situations to develop. They do have the right take steps to try to stop them before they happen - it is a right that comes from the libaility they face for not stopping them.

Well gee, there was a certain former friend of mine that threatened me with a knife. Is the mall liable for not taking steps to insure that we were never in the same place at the same time? There are so many ways that a fight could start that I don't feel it is ethical to hold mall owners responsible for failing to prevent fights. And again, doesn't this justify segregation in some communities? Is a mall legally obligated to break up interracial couples because of the outside possibility that a white supremacist might take offense to the point of physical violence? Should gay couples be permitted or just as long as they sign a waver of liability if they want to hold hands? Should a mall ban yammukes and palistinian head coverings? People who wear socks and sandals in case they be accosted by the fashion police?

This leap of logic that a person should be banned from a mall for wearing a t-shirt that reflects the opinions of 38% of the American population on the outside chance that a pro-war person will be so outraged that they will pick a fight just staggers the imagination! To start with, it means that I have quite a bit more faith in the manners of war supporters than you do. Is there something I should know here? Are war supporters really so fervent in their beliefs that the simple sight of an anti-war shirt drives them to fits of violence worthy of Jeckle and Hyde? In my experience, no.

In this case - it is not the mall, but the man that acted with no ethics, and no respect. It certainly sounds as though he was doing more than just walking through the mall - he was engaging in activities that upset other patrons. He was first asked to simply stop it. He didn't. Then he was asked to leave. He refused. Yet it is the legality and morals of the business owners - not his - that have been called into question here. By the same people that would probably be screaming that the mall was responsible if he started a fight and got the crap kicked out of himself.

I agree with you IF he was doing more than walk through the mall. But throughout this discussion, you seem to have been saying that the mall had the right to kick him out even if he was just sitting in the starbucks sipping coffee. Is this not the case? Is the entire point of your argument something that I've expressed agreement on in practically every post (people engaged in disruptive behavior can be removed)?

But I've noticed a shift in your opinion over this discussion. So far, you have argued that businesses are equivalent to homes. You've argued that it was justified entirely on the basis of majority opinion and financial bottom line. Then you agreed that, yes there are justifiable limits, but the threat of a lawsuit is sufficient grounds for a paternalistic invocation of an ad hoc dress code based on politics.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:18 PM on March 5, 2003


ZupanGOD:

I'm refering to the fact that left leaning liberals champion a group think mentality.

And I'm referring to your complaint that [liberals] "identify people based by group, not by an individual identity." Which is precisely what you did.

-- Most left leaning liberals are group oriented, or collectivists alltogether. They eat, drink, sleep, eat, smoke a group mentality. They are mostly anti-individual and pro-group. ;
-- I mean it's kind of impossible not to think so if the majority of those who have organized these protests are socialists ;
-- the vast majority of the people who oppose the war are prodiminatley marxist, socialist, and modern liberals.

I'll echo what Espoo said: Do you have any documentation for this whatsoever? I've never seen any kind of poll-derived analysis or breakdown of the anti-war contingent. Have you? How do you support these allegations? Or are you, as I presume, just spouting hot air?

You're muddling an extremist left-wing, collectivist political stance with the stance of opposition to war in Iraq. I'm not saying that people don't share these attitudes, but I seriously doubt they're anywhere near as widespread as you are assuming them to be. Make with the data.

the vast majority of the people who oppose the war are prodiminatley marxist, socialist, and modern liberals. And the crux of their political philosophy is oriented towards group identity and status. The vast majority of these protestors are of that stripe. But what about the 38% who oppose the war that you speak of? Yes according to the polls there is a considerable number of people who oppose this war, but are all of them far left liberals or are these people who are just individuals who oppose war and do not share enough common cause with those who are proesting? My guess the latter.

well, which is it? Either the "vast majority" are "just individuals who oppose war and do not share enough common cause with those who are protesting", OR they're "marxist, socialist, and modern liberals." I don't see how it can be both.

Moving on...

dhoyt: Piss off, troll. England has produced some of the most intolerant, insufferably snobbish people the world has ever seen.

Let me get this straight: you're calling troll and then following it with THAT? (hello pot? meet kettle.)
posted by Vidiot at 9:29 PM on March 5, 2003


I personally have never read a word of Marx other than quotes. I've always been skeptical of anything that touts itself as socialist. But I am modern, or better yet, I am contemporary. And I am liberal. in fact I was the "furthest left" of anyone at mefi that took the quiz.

So somehow I tend to agree with most every nuance towards socialism. I say this, because I was happy living in a country that respected its dissidents. I was happy being a benign dissident of sorts, for those days. But I was not revolutionary.

Strange times these are. Polarizing times these are. Blowtorch vs. Bic. I would assume the blowtorch expends its fuel quicker.
therefore there may still be a chance.
posted by crasspastor at 10:46 PM on March 5, 2003


From the police report:

The mall security guard:
I was approached by a customer on the selling floor. The customer was an older white female who informed me of an incident she witnessed in the mall. The customer proceeded to tell me that she saw two gentlemen wearing Anti-war t-shirts that said 'Peace on Earth' and 'No war with Iraq'. The customer stated that these two gentlemen were having a verbal dispute with another group of individuals in the mall

The responding police officer:
On the above date and time while on patrol, I was responding to a complaint regarding persons protesting in front of Macy's against the pending war with Iraq. ... As they were walking through the common area they were stopping customers to express why they were wearing the shirts. I approached Stephen and Roger Downs to request they stop bothering customer and to please cover or remove the shirts they were wearing. Both Stephan and Roger were advised if they complied with my request they will be allowed to stay in the mall and continue shopping as long as they do not cause anymore disturbances Roger and Stephen said no they were going to continue shopping. I advised the Downs that Crossgate Mall is private property and they will be asked to leave Crossgate. Police Officer Myers was passing by and I requested his assistance. I again requested Stephan Downs and Roger Downs to stop their activity or leave. Roger Downs complied. Stephen Dons stated he would absolutely not comply and not leave the mall.

So a customer got hold of a mall security guard because some people were causing a dispute. The guard checked it out, and called the police. The police officer witnessed them stopping customers to 'explain their anti-war t-shirts' and one would guess talk to them about their political views. The police officer then advised them of the situation (private property), and then asked them three times to stop bothering people and to remove the t-shirts. When Stephen Downs refused, he was arrested and removed from the mall.

This all seems pretty straight forward to me. Some people were harassing customers at the mall, and were asked to stop. When they refused the police removed them.

I guess I wonder how many of you would have a problem with Pro-Life people wearing T-Shirts with pro-life slogans (or photos of aborted fetuses for that matter) on them in the mall while attempting to proselytize shoppers? I surely would want those people removed from the mall, if they refused to stop their behavior.

The Downs have their First Amendment right to protest, as I have my right to not be harassed while I shop. And since the Crossgate's purpose is to provide a pleasant environment for shopping and not a forum for debate, I applaud the mall for removing these hooligans.

(A side from that, how many people shopping for Old Navy Polar Fleece and Pottery Barn knickknacks did they really think they were going to convince? Makes me really wonder if the intention was to get arrested...)
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 11:08 PM on March 5, 2003


Telling people they cannot express their political opinions is always wrong.

This is almost like Epimenides' paradox. If I were to say "You may not express your political opinion," that is a political opinion, and therefore by your own rule you cannot tell me I may not express it. ;)
posted by kindall at 11:18 PM on March 5, 2003


Albany's Crossgates Mall is owned by The Pyramid Cos., the Northeast's largest mall chain...so it's not just a local little Albany, NY story. Other malls they own include:

NY
Walden Galleria, Buffalo
Shops at West Seneca, West Seneca
Aviation Mall, Glens Falls
Pyramid Mall, Ithaca
Hudson Valley Mall, Kingston
Hudson Valley Plaza, Kingston
Galleria at Crystal Run, Middletown
Plaza at Crystal Run, Middletown
Sangertown Square Mall, New Hartford
Champlain Centre North, Plattsburgh
Champlain Centre South, Plattsburgh
Plaza at Champlain Centre, Plattsburgh
Poughkeepsie Galleria, Poughkeepsie
Carousel Center, Syracuse
Riverside Mall, Utica
Alpine Commons, Wappinger Falls

MA
Salmon Run Mall, Watertown MASSACHUSETTS
Hampshire Mall, Hadley, Mass.
Independence Mall, Kingston, Mass.
Berkshire Mall, Lanesboro, Mass.
Emerald Square Mall, North Attleboro, Mass.
Holyoke Mall at Ingleside, Springfield, Mass.
posted by Modgoddess at 12:39 AM on March 6, 2003


Show's over folks. Move along, nothing to see here.

It does seem that Mr. Downs might want an apology.
posted by whatever at 1:27 AM on March 6, 2003


Whatever: Show's over folks. Move along, nothing to see here.

But from the (disappointing, again) ABC story: "[Roger Downs, 31] said his father [Stephen Downs, 61, a lawyer with the state Commission on Judicial Conduct] would wait to see how the mall handles the case before deciding whether to sue."

Not over yet... Especially given this shining example of how one can get $$$ in free national publicity by baiting poor dumb bureaucracies that have nothing to do with war planning... Expect more such provocations as anti-war protestors grow increasingly desperate and wake up to the beauty of leverage.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 1:56 AM on March 6, 2003


Good sleuthing, Modgoddess -- you've found deep pockets! Prediction: Pyramid goes into groveling risk-abatement mode.

Irony: the mall chain's wealthy owner is into alternative fuels, and just might agree with the "No Blood for Oil" sentiment.
posted by Hieronymous Coward at 2:16 AM on March 6, 2003


The police officer witnessed them stopping customers to 'explain their anti-war t-shirts'

Nowhere in the Smoking Gun documents, Steve, does it state that the responding police officer "witnessed" the two men stopping customers. You're assuming that from the vaguely worded reports. In fact, there's not a single statement from *anyone* in those reports who actually "witnessed" the disturbance that the Macy's customer says she saw. Or any other disturbance, for that matter.

That's a glaring omission, Steve. Looks to me like there's some serious after-the-fact fudging going on from the mall security guard and the responding officer, and that either the reports were written in a ridiculously sloppy style or they contain exaggerations so big they could be actionable.
posted by mediareport at 2:32 AM on March 6, 2003


Not over yet... Especially given this shining example of how one can get $$$ in free national publicity by baiting poor dumb bureaucracies that have nothing to do with war planning... Expect more such provocations as anti-war protestors grow increasingly desperate and wake up to the beauty of leverage.

You impute so much of the right's underhanded tactics onto your "adversaries" here, that the forest cannot be seen through your trees. No amigo. "The left" by and large is not even an iota as dirty as your favorite fascist pundits. No, in other words, no it is not about $$$. Are you going to trust your media on this one? To sue isn't to sue necessarily for money, but to sue, because it is your right as an American to sue, if your rights have been violated. Sue away Americans. It beats the fuck out of not having the right to.

Think carefully about what you think HC. Think it over. To dis-believe in the right of any old citizen to sue is to dis-believe in your own right to sue anybody you see fit. Are these potential plaintiffs fiends for money? I have no idea. Nevertheless, it does not detract from the fact that an American has the right to sue anybody he wants and let his grievances be heard in the court of United States Constitutional law.

Or have you lost faith too, in American jurisprudence? You wouldn't be the first to be blaming entirely the wrong entity for its failure.

Irony: the mall chain's wealthy owner is into alternative fuels, and just might agree with the "No Blood for Oil" sentiment.

Your position is so token and probably so pop that it's no wonder we're currently undergoing the wired and modern yet dark age we currently endure.

All it takes is crap to make the world go round anymore. The world is bogging down in crap.
posted by crasspastor at 2:50 AM on March 6, 2003


Nowhere in the Smoking Gun documents, Steve, does it state that the responding police officer "witnessed" the two men stopping customers.

The police officer states it himself, as he approached the two men. They way it is written, the police officer is giving a first hand account.

The Downs conveniently left out the part where they were proselytizing mall patrons when they talked to the media.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 6:56 AM on March 6, 2003


I applaud the mall for removing these hooligans.

hooligan
SYLLABICATION: hoo·li·gan
NOUN: A tough and aggressive or violent youth.


*cries*
posted by matteo at 7:42 AM on March 6, 2003


Pyramid Cos. (see above), meet Mr. Pyramid Termite, whose tactics will become legion and chew you to bits:

Private property? Feh. I've got a better idea - get a T-shirt that says, "Blessed are the peacemakers" - when the mall throws you out for wearing it, sue them under the Civil Rights Act for religious discrimination, as it is a well known phrase from the Bible.
(posted by pyramid termite at 3:13 AM PST on March 5)
posted by troutfishing at 8:15 AM on March 6, 2003


KirkJobSluder: Whoah, a vast majority of 38% are marxist, socialist and modern liberals? Liberals I believe (because just about anything to the left of Bush is considered "liberal" these days) but it astounds me that even though socalist and communist parties manage to get less than 1% at the polls that suddenly there is this huge plurality of marxist opposition to the war. There are members of the far left at protest but I also see local ministers, mainstream quakers, and a bunch of people who simply disbelieve that a dictator with no armor, a small infantry and a handful of short range missiles is a threat serious enough to jusitfy preemptive invasion.

Did I say that? Oops! That's not what I mean't, I was talking about the anti-war protesters out on the street. I should of read what I wrote a few more times more before i posted, it's a shame you can't really edit on MF. [sigh] I'm not saying that 1/3 were marxists, I was refering to the street protestors. I'm sure there is many people who think that Saddam poses no threat, and I think they are simply being naive. BTW - I'm a liberal who supports military action in Iraq.
posted by ZupanGOD at 8:24 AM on March 6, 2003


Vidiot: I'll echo what Espoo said: Do you have any documentation for this whatsoever? I've never seen any kind of poll-derived analysis or breakdown of the anti-war contingent. Have you? How do you support these allegations? Or are you, as I presume, just spouting hot air?

You're muddling an extremist left-wing, collectivist political stance with the stance of opposition to war in Iraq. I'm not saying that people don't share these attitudes, but I seriously doubt they're anywhere near as widespread as you are assuming them to be. Make with the data.


The political philosophy of the modern left is based mostly on group identity and status, I'm kind of shocked that you've never heard of such a thing. And to clear the air, I miss typed. I was speaking about the street protesters, which a vast majority are far left leaning. Sorry for the confusion.
posted by ZupanGOD at 8:37 AM on March 6, 2003


ZupanGOD: You can clear the air some more with another apology for misstatement. I was at the street protests, and it was perfectly clear who the "far left leaning" types were, and they were a small minority. The overwhelming majority were ordinary citizens appalled by the rush to war. Sorry if this offends your preconceptions, and I hope you're sorry about your error.
posted by languagehat at 9:31 AM on March 6, 2003


ZupanGOD, the dead horse is possibly being flogged at this moment, but I still don't understand your prior comments about the street protesters being socialist/Marxist/far left leaning.

You just "clarified" that you're talking about street protesters and not just people who oppose the war:

I was speaking about the street protesters, which a vast majority are far left leaning.

Again, I ask: where is your proof? As I said above, make with the data. It sounds like you're repeating pseudo-"conventional wisdom" from someplace.

The political philosophy of the modern left is based mostly on group identity and status, I'm kind of shocked that you've never heard of such a thing.

In all seriousness and curiosity: what are you talking about? Isn't ANY political identification (e.g. "modern left", "Democratic Party", "Moral Majority") based on group identity and status? You keep making this statement; can you furnish some examples with each successive repetition?
posted by Vidiot at 10:20 AM on March 6, 2003


The police officer states it himself, as he approached the two men. They way it is written, the police officer is giving a first hand account.

My point is that the account of the mall guard (not clear if it was a police officer, actually) is far from convincing. If the guard had not yet approached the two men, how could s/he know that they were "stopping customers to express why they were wearing the shirts"? And other questions remain: why were the people supposedly accosted by the peaceniks not interviewed? I'm sorry, but at least two scenarios are plausible here, 1) that the guard is overstating what s/he actually saw for certain, perhaps influenced by recent past events at the mall, and 2) that the two men are lying about their actions.

Only one of us is being certain about what happened here, Steve, and it's not me. Take the certainty down just a notch, acknowledge that the report of a mall guard is hardly the definitive word in the case, and we can both walk away comfortable in our biases. Deal?
posted by mediareport at 1:48 PM on March 6, 2003


Forget it, Jake -- it's Rashomon.
posted by Slithy_Tove at 10:45 PM on March 6, 2003


Robert Williams, Crossgates Mall Security office, was fired yesterday.

Williams, who has worked in security at the mall for more than nine years, said he signed the complaint on the orders of his boss, assistant director of security Fred Tallman. Those orders came after Tallman told the Guilderland police officer working the case that he (Tallman) was too busy to come to the police station and that Williams represented the company and should sign.

"I just followed directions of management of that mall to the letter," Williams said Friday evening. "And I get fired for doing my job."

posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 2:21 PM on March 8, 2003


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