Thursday, May 10, 2007

Malls and Free Speech

Do malls constitute a form of public space? It's a complex issue. Some observers note their clearly privatized environs, arguing that one cannot protest in a mall any more than in a stranger's house. Others reply that malls have replaced traditional public spaces. Thus, like it or not, they should accommodate communications that would otherwise appear on the proverbial village green. Here's a recent article that addresses this issue.

(Excerpt begins)

SOUTH PORTLAND - Should the public have free-speech rights in the common areas of Maine's privately owned malls?

That isn't the case now, and Rep. Jon Hinck, D-Portland, says that a change is needed.

Hinck has introduced a bill that would give people the right to petition and otherwise exercise their free-speech rights in the common areas of shopping centers as long as they do not interfere with business or pedestrian traffic.


"They've shut down Main Streets, and that's where we used to go. Main Street doesn't exist anymore," [Sen. Peter] Mills said.

(Excerpt ends)

Read the whole thing:

Kim, A. (2007, May 9). Malls would be a marketplace of ideas under bill. Portland Press Herald.

See also:

Lithwick, D. (2003, March 10). Why can shopping malls limit free speech? Slate.

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