The First Amendment’s freedom to pee

At what point are someone’s political views so detestable that they earn their holder a bathroom ban? And if the ban’s originator and enforcer is an officer of the government — in this case, a police officer — does the ban run afoul of the First Amendment?

Brother J.J. Richardson says he was banned from Brooklyn Boro Hall because of his anti-gay views. (Brooklyn Paper photo by Brown)

The Brooklyn Paper reports this morning that the cop on duty at Brooklyn Borough Hall is denying restroom access to a homophobe street preacher — and that New Yorkers ought to be as outraged by the cop’s affront to the First Amendment as they should be about the preacher’s views.

The Paper’s Politicrasher columnist says the preacher’s “leaflets are appalling by most civilized standards — and can’t be reprinted here — but the First Amendment guarantee of free speech means nothing if the person making the speech is punished for it, especially by a government officer!”

The coumnist continues:

That’s the point of the amendment in the first place — to bar government from “abridging the freedom of speech.” Courts have consistently knocked down government efforts to curtail one kind of speech, yet not other equally vile beliefs. …

It all reminds me of a twisted take on Samuel 8:18: “You will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.”

The cop — who would identify herself only as “Gibson” — refused to confirm to The Brooklyn Paper that she had a problem with the preacher, Brother J.J. Richardson.

“[The bathroom] has always been closed to the public, but we extended a courtesy,” said Gibson.

But it’s not her “courtesy” to extend.


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