Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Panhandling as Speech?

That's right, panhandling is a form of speech, according to a Travis County, Texas, judge:

A city [of Austin] ordinance designed to keep people from begging for money or jobs on the side of some Austin roads has been declared unconstitutional for the second time in less than three years.

In an opinion that criticizes the ordinance as overly broad and questions the city's argument that it is necessary to ensure traffic safety, Travis County Court-at-Law Judge J. David Phillips upheld a 2005 Municipal Court decision that overturned the city's sidewalk solicitation rules.

"This ordinance reaches conduct that has little or nothing to do with traffic safety and very much to do with constitutionally protected speech," Phillips said in an opinion issued Thursday.
Travis County, of course, is dominated by Austin. It is, in other words, a Blue enclave in a Red State.

I would bet that Judge Phillips, as a defender of panhandlers' "free speech" right to distract drivers (and worse), also subscribes to the Orwellian idea that freedom of speech is served by the McCain-Feingold Act.

That's the way it is in the People's Republic of Austin.

You might wonder why the true-Blue denizens of Austin are so "heartless" as to restrict panhandling (via their Leftist city council). It's a white-liberal-yuppie kind of thing. (And Austin is chockablock with white-liberal-yuppie persons.) One "feels for" the homeless, etc., but one don't want them to get too close to one's shiny $60k SUV.