Opinion: VTrans policy on ‘acceptable’ graffiti unacceptable - Fractals of Change

The Vermont Agency of Transportation just can’t decide which graffiti are politically acceptable before choosing to erase it, or not. That’s government regulation of political speech.

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When asked how the guidelines would apply to a message like “White Lives Matter More”, Flynn said the agency would implement the guidelines on a “case-by-case basis”. Profane messages or messages which compromise public safety will be taken down; although the definition of profanity is in the eye of the beholder, this rule would probably pass constitutional muster. But Flynn continued, “If it starts to get into the area of rights to the First Amendment, and what one person feels is appropriate versus another, we’re really going to have to look at that on a case-by-case basis,” he said. “But the current topic, racial justice, is very important. And we feel strongly that, for now, we’re going to look at it this way.”

Bong! Unconstitutional! The Secretary of the Vermont Agency of Transportation may NOT decide on a case-by-case basis that certain topics or certain opinions on certain topics are “very important” and deserve special treatment. No matter how politically expedient such a decision might be. If “Black Lives Matter” (I agree, they do) is allowed to remain, then “White Lives Matter More”, as obnoxious as it is, must be allowed to remain also. You cannot allow the sign “good people wear masks” without also allowing the sign “real men don’t wear masks”. Government may not regulate political speech depending on content.

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  • Patrick Finnie
    commented 2020-07-12 19:21:54 -0400
    What happened to Vermont anti billboard laws ? I thought that the only signs that could be along (or on?) our roads was travel information like miles to a town, route number, speed limits etc. nothing else was allowed. Now the powers that be have opened “Pandora’s Box”. They’d better have an exit strategy otherwise what’s right for the goose, better be right for the gander.
  • Mark Maloney
    commented 2020-07-10 06:22:44 -0400
    The old policy of removing all graffiti should return. I for one don’t want to look at that crap, and calling it “street art” doesn’t change that.