[see update at the bottom]
There’s a bit of a stink going around on email over those signs making “fun” of Randi Shade for the election. Apparently someone has reported Shade and staff members for removing them, even a “press release”, whatever…
I do find the use of the signs, and their ilk by defending them as free speech, puzzling. I understand that free speech is something you either have or don’t have, you can’t allow for people to decide the use of free speech otherwise its slippery slope into censorship.
That said, I know nothing of Randi Shades background before her time in city hall, but I assume at some point Shade was just a normal person. If someone other than Shade had been taking the signs, its questionable, but for if reports are true and Shade herself was taking down these signs, I should imagine this is a pretty depressing episode. The issue isn’t the signs, it has nothing to do with free speech.
The question is who do we want to stand for local office, and what example does this set? Do we want a bunch of people who don’t care when they are personally attached? Who take no notice, and thumb their noses? Well mostly those people are too busy running cut throat businesses and making more money than they could ever make as a city of Austin politician and they won’t need the leg-up that might give them, to bother standing for office to help the “little” people.
Imagine the next round of elections, if your candidate were treated in a similar way! How many of you would not take down the signs? Yes, you can claim they were humor, but really they were nothing more than a personal attack that exploited the law. If the reports are indeed true, personally I say good on Randi for having the gall to take these down herself, she must have known she’d be seen by someone. Some civility is surely called for in a civil society?
Turn out for voting in locals councils here in Austin is abysmally poor for a country that is trying to encourage the same local democracy in places where they don’t have something as “good”. If the proposed run-off between Shade and Tovo does go ahead, it’s likely less people in Austin will vote than will have paid bribes to a certain Afghan minister…
Anyway, what is it with these political signs littering all over town? It’s one thing to put them on your own property, but how is it free speech when they are left littering all over private property all over town? Tradition?
Update: After this afternoons Share press conference, Sarah Coppola is reporting on her Statesman blog: “Shade campaign manager Katherine Haenschen said because the makers of the signs have said they’re not political advertising, they are not subject to the protections of political speech and anyone can remove them.”
*For the sake of transparency, I am a Tovo supporter and a listed sponsor*