First they came for the fish, and I said nothing

It’s not often my two of my passions — fishing and free speech — collide in such spectacular fashion.

But the government of Clearwater, Fla., fined a local bait shop for violating city code with a mural it commissioned painted on an exterior wall, and then — get this — ordered the removal of a banner of the First Amendment the business owners had hung in protest.

The ACLU filed suit against the city and on Friday a U.S. Magistrate Judge recommended that the District Court issue a preliminary injunction against the city.

Here’s to hoping the ACLU and Heriberto and Lorraine Quintero, who own The Complete Angler, prevail in their case.  (Full disclosure: My Bass Pro Rewards card shares room in my wallet with an ACLU card, and they get along fine.)

Read the article from the North Country Gazette or check out the ruling below.

The ruling itself is a great read. Highlights include:

  • “The City may not skirt First Amendment protections by applying a definition of commercial speech that better suits its tastes” and
  • “Defendant itself has provided evidence that it would have tolerated the Painting and/or the Banner had they contained alternate content.”

Tangent: Why is the North Country Gazette reporting on goings-on in Florida?

About the Author

grant smith
Hi. I’m a freelance journalist and data specialist living in NJ/NYC. I like to play outside.

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