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give free speech a chance?

I may be considered a pro-war conservative but that doesn't mean I am not on the side of free speech when it comes to stating your views.

This story is the height of ridiculousness:

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.

According to the criminal complaint filed on Monday, Stephen Downs was wearing a T-shirt bearing the words "Give Peace A Chance" that he had just purchased from a vendor inside the Crossgates Mall in Guilderland, New York, near Albany.

What's interesting to note is that Mr. Downs is "the director of the Albany Office of the state Commission on Judicial Conduct, which investigates complaints of misconduct against judges and can admonish, censure or remove judges found to have engaged in misconduct." Interesting because that office has been all but made obsolete by a recent ruling regarding judges and free speech (will find link to that story soon).

Regardless, the behavior of these security guards only adds fuel to the fire of the far left, in that the more things like this happen, the more they can cry about police state tactics.

The shirts were hardly offensive. Not only that, they were bought at that very mall. If the shirts were grounds for removal from the mall, why are they allowed to sell them there?

This was just a bad move by some overzealous security guards. But it could have far-reaching effects.

People need to chill out.


Since malls are owned by businesses, not government, they are private property and owners, which makes this a complicated issue. This is not the first time this issue has been raised. Here's some further reading and a little more.

Doing a web search turns up at least a handful of similar cases debating (with mixed outcomes) First Amendment rights vs. the rights of a Property Owner to control his property--i.e. prohibit actions/speech on their own property.

Of course, this was far less confrontational than deliberate leafletting or demonstrating and the fact that said item was purchased at that mall may come into play. Of course, someone could purchase something at Victoria's Secret or Fredericks of Hollywood in the mall and not be permitted to wear it around the mall...but that's another story! ;)

Well, the far left is already doing it and the problem is, they are making it appear as though they were arrested for wearing the shirts when they were not.

Most malls have specific policies about wearing clothing that could cause trouble. I remember one of my friends having to leave the mall one time when we were like 14 because he had a Motley Crue t-shirt that said "Shout At The Devil" on the back.

The man was arrested for trespassing after he was told to leave for wearing the shirt and refused.

Now, these mall policies may be dumb, but the man was not arrested for wearing the shirt. We also have to remember that we need to distinguish between private property and public property. The mall is private property, and thus the security guards were within their rights to do this.

All I would do is ask somebody who is 'outraged' over this if they would seek to remove somebody from their front yard if the person was wearing a "Democrats Are Pro-Saddam Pussies" t-shirt.

I'll echo the private vs. public property arguement. That said, I would also gladly stand beside any hyper-left, no war rallying, America bashing, liberal that wanted to boycott that mall. Asking a man to leave because he was wearing a "Give Peace A Chance" t-shirt? If it was a teenager, I'd be inclined to suspect there was more to the story, but this guy being a judge makes it easy to accept that he was acting in nothing but a respectable fashion.
Yeah, this place doesn't need the business of anyone who respects the rights of others to have an opinion.

Sure it was rediculous for the mall to ask them to leave. Still, it is not public property, and freedom of expression does not apply.

I completely agree that if these are all the facts to the story, ridiculous and outrageous don't begin to discribe the actions of the mall. Perhaps I'm being optimistic, but I can't help wondering if there's more to this story.

For some reason I get the feeling we're not being told everything. Dunno why; experience, probably.
Most likely they'd had problems with people in "peacemonger" getup causing a ruckus at the mall, or the like.

The man was arrested for trespassing after he was told to leave for wearing the shirt and refused.
...but the man was not arrested for wearing the shirt.

Split that hair, baby!

Well, AV, I suppose trespassing is so similar to being arrested for merely wearing a shirt that the difference is "hair splitting" to you, but that don't, as we say, make it so.

Stupid action on the security people's part (if there's not more we don't know about); stupid mall policy if it was, in fact, policy. But the fact remains that the arrest is for refusing to leave private property when asked, not for wearing the shirt.

The real way you can tell there's a difference is that there's no law against wearing the shirt - or protesting the mall for asking him to leave.

What struck me most was that the security company said they called the police after other shoppers complained about the shirts.

People rawk.

I'm with Junior and Diane. I live outside DC, and I see obnoxious behavior all the time. It's worse during marches & protests, but it never completely abates.

From Instpundit:

On the evening of March 3, Crossgates Mall security received a complaint regarding two individuals disrupting customers. The individuals were approached by security because of their actions and interference with other shoppers. Their behavior, coupled with their clothing, to express to others their personal views on world affairs were disruptive of customers."... Continued

They don't give specifics but it wouldn't surprise me in the least if they were walking around chanting or giving speeches. Extremists seem to have a knack for couching their actions in the least objectionable terms even though it isn't descriptive of their behavior. The recent case of the Duke University speechgiver who claimed to be a political prisoner comes to mind. In truth, she bombed the US capitol building.

However, if it was just the shirts I think this is wrong. Not that it would matter to the anti's. As we know, factual correctness isn't a high priority for them.

As I suspected - there is more to the story. See the Smoking Gun.

They were roughed up by mall cops because they didn't like their shirts, they were asked to stop the disturbances they were causing, and they refused.

So the cop arrested them for trespass.

Not for wearing the shirts.

what was omitted from the report:

"... I was not even wearing the shirt" the man said "in fact, I wasn't wearing anything!"

Leave it to Reuters to not tell the whole story.

According to a NY Times story , a different spin arises than found at The Smoking Gun (no surprise there).

Crossgates Mall has come under criticism in recent months after local news organizations reported that people displaying antiwar messages on their clothing were asked to leave the premises.

I also read that the Mall had requested to withdraw the complaint, and that the guy was arrested while sitting down at the food court. Can't find those links, so maybe I've got it confused with a different story.

First of all, I have no complaint about the guy being arrested. He was asked to leave private property and didn't. The issue to me is whether it is acceptable that he be asked to leave based on his behavior.

Normally I'm a staunch supporter of private property owner's ability to control who can have access their property. I start getting on the fence when its a large public gathering place such as a mall. What if the mall asked minorities to leave? or didn't allow military to shop there? It starts to become a fuzzy gray area.

I guess maybe its because I've seen worse behavior and clothing at the malls around here, and am just assuming that mall is like all the other malls I've been to ...

So who's right the TSG or NYT??? I don't know ...

If the guy was being disruptive, it was justified, if he wasn't ... then its ludricous.

my link didn't work ... but you can go to Google news and its there.

The story from "The Smoking Gun" pretty much debunked the "innocent peaceniks arrested while minding their own business" spin of the original story I saw yesterday morning. It seems obvious to me that they were being disruptive on private property, and that the mall was justified in asking them to either cease their disruptive behavior or leave the premises. The disruptive peaceniks are the dickheads, not the mall.