Not a Free Speech Issue (6/18/09)

Last week, the Metro Council approved an ordinance requiring anyone delivering unsolicited advertising material to homes to place it in a distribution box, on a porch or near a front door, between the exterior and interior front doors or though a mail slot; securely attach it to a front door; or leave it personally with the owner.

Those don't sound like unreasonable restrictions. But the folks at the Courier-Journal - who make money distributing such material -- disagree. And they're now threatening to sue the city, claiming infringement of their First Amendment rights to free speech.

Are they kidding?

First, the "speech" they're referring to is a wad of unsolicited advertising flyers and pamphlets. We're not talking about the Declaration of Independence.

But more importantly, this law doesn't prohibit them from distributing their unwanted junk in any case. It only requires them to distribute it in a socially responsible way that doesn't create litter.

Should we assume the C-J's lawyers think they should also have the right to spray paint their selling messages on the sides of our homes? Or maybe scream them to us through our bedroom windows at 3 AM?

This law isn't about free speech. It's about acting responsibly - something the Courier's definitely NOT doing by threatening to waste the city's time and money with a frivolous lawsuit over such a clear-cut issue.

I'm Bill Lamb, and that's my...Point of View.