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Subject: Free Speech Issue rss

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Jilted ex-boyfriend puts up abortion billboard

http://beta.news.yahoo.com/jilted-ex-boyfriend-puts-abortion...

ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — A New Mexico man's decision to lash out with a billboard ad saying his ex-girlfriend had an abortion against his wishes has touched off a legal debate over free speech and privacy rights.

The sign on Alamogordo's main thoroughfare shows 35-year-old Greg Fultz holding the outline of an infant. The text reads, "This Would Have Been A Picture Of My 2-Month Old Baby If The Mother Had Decided To Not KILL Our Child!"

Fultz's ex-girlfriend has taken him to court for harassment and violation of privacy. A domestic court official has recommended the billboard be removed.

But Fultz's attorney argues the order violates his client's free speech rights.

"As distasteful and offensive as the sign may be to some, for over 200 years in this country the First Amendment protects distasteful and offensive speech," Todd Holmes said.

The woman's friends say she had a miscarriage, not an abortion, according to a report in the Albuquerque Journal.

Holmes disputes that, saying his case is based on the accuracy of his client's statement.

"My argument is: What Fultz said is the truth," Holmes said.

The woman's lawyer said she had not discussed the pregnancy with her client. But for Ellen Jessen, whether her client had a miscarriage or an abortion is not the point. The central issue is her client's privacy and the fact that the billboard has caused severe emotional distress, Jessen said.

"Her private life is not a matter of public interest," she told the Alamogordo Daily News.

Jessen says her client's ex-boyfriend has crossed the line.

"Nobody is stopping him from talking about father's rights. ... but a person can't invade someone's private life."

For his part, Holmes invoked the U.S. Supreme Court decision from earlier this year concerning the Westboro Baptist Church, which is known for its anti-gay protests at military funerals and other high-profile events. He believes the high court's decision to allow the protests, as hurtful as they are, is grounds for his client to put up the abortion billboard.

"Very unpopular offensive speech," he told the Alamogordo Daily News. "The Supreme Court, in an 8 to 1 decision, said that is protected speech."

Holmes says he is going to fight the order to remove the billboard through a District Court appeal.
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What a waste of time and money.
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Boaty McBoatface
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I would tend to agree that this is a waste of money. But if you expect the right to say what you want you cant complain about others exercising that right. As to this case, the blokes a callous tit (if it was a miscarriage and he is just a nasty piece of work) or an insensitive tit (if it was an abortion, which is appallingly traumatic for many women (and perhaps its his attitude that led to the split?)). But at the same time it may be her body, but it’s his progeny so he has a right to publicly talk about it in whatever way he sees fit. So I defend his right to do it, but not the mentality behind it.
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If Actions Speak Louder Than Words, Then Actions x2 Speak Louder Than Actions
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I was just there and I didn't see it. I was too busy eating Key Lime Pie from Cloudcroft and drinking Carrizos Cherry Cider. Mmmmmm....


BTW, this makes this guy less dateable.
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Erik Henry
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If it was a miscarriage, is suing for libel a possibility? She's not named, but to those familiar with the circumstances it's probably pretty clear who's being implicated.


....And thinking further, if the non-naming isn't an issue, could she also sue for libel even if it was an abortion? He's saying she committed murder, that she killed their child, but I assume according to the law she did no such thing.

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You think at bare minimum that the city would have an ordinance on what can and cannot be posted on a billboard. Just the license alone to build a advertising billboard has to have some rules for "bad taste" built in it you would think.
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Boaty McBoatface
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MWChapel wrote:
You think at bare minimum that the city would have an ordinance on what can and cannot be posted on a billboard. Just the license alone to build a advertising billboard has to have some rules for "bad taste" built in it you would think.


But would that violate someone's constitutional rights?
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slatersteven wrote:

But would that violate someone's constitutional rights?


There is no constitutional right to build a billboard, or a house, or a bar. There are licenses and rules and CONTRACTS with the city that must be signed before you can hammer a single nail.
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MWChapel wrote:
slatersteven wrote:

But would that violate someone's constitutional rights?


There is no constitutional right to build a billboard, or a house, or a bar. There are licenses and rules and CONTRACTS with the city that must be signed before you can hammer a single nail.


But there is a constitutional right to freedom of speech. So whilst you might be able to argue that building regulations might be able to stop a billboard being put up they could not refuse it on content grounds, as that would infringe his right of expression.
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MWChapel wrote:
slatersteven wrote:

But would that violate someone's constitutional rights?


There is no constitutional right to build a billboard, or a house, or a bar. There are licenses and rules and CONTRACTS with the city that must be signed before you can hammer a single nail.

So, in your opinion a Republican town mayor would be within his legal rights to disallow any re-elect Obama billboards in his town?
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slatersteven wrote:

But there is a constitutional right to freesoim of speech. So whilst you might be able to argue that building regualtions might be able to stop a billboard being put up they could not refuse it on content grounds as that would infringe his right of expresion.


In the US, you can sign away some of your constitutional rights, contractually. For instance, if I bought a house in a neighborhood association and I signed a deed agreement that I could not post any signs on the yard, and I did. I could legally be forced to remove it.

If the owner of the billboard signed a zoning agreement for his billboard that list disallowed content, he too be be obligated to remove it.
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bjlillo wrote:
I think it's a thing of beauty.


BJ, suppose it turns out that the "women's friends" are telling the truth -- that she miscarried rather than had an abortion.

Would that change your opinion?
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MWChapel wrote:
slatersteven wrote:

But there is a constitutional right to freesoim of speech. So whilst you might be able to argue that building regualtions might be able to stop a billboard being put up they could not refuse it on content grounds as that would infringe his right of expresion.


In the US, you can sign away some of your constitutional rights, contractually. For instance, if I bought a house in a neighborhood association and I signed a deed agreement that I could not post any signs on the yard, and I did. I could legally be forced to remove it.

If the owner of the billboard signed a zoning agreement for his billboard that list disallowed content, he too be be obligated to remove it.


I'm no lawyer, but I think there are probably a lot of these local ordinances that would not stand up to a constitutional challenge. The reason a lot of them remain in place is probably because usually no one feels compelled to go to the trouble of challenging them in court - it's easier to just obey. In this guy's case, I would think freedom of speech considerations might outweigh zoning issues, but again, what the hell do I know. I do think the comparison to the Westboro cult is apt - they dispense disgusting drivel daily (say that three times fast) in public places and despite the general repulsion that people feel about their statements, it has been established that they are within their rights to express themselves. Of course, thinking on it a bit further, it does seem that local officials retain the ability to require these nuts to stay a minimum distance from the ceremonies they typically attempt to disrupt. Perhaps in the same vein, billboards can be regulated in terms of where they can and can not be placed, without infringing on the billboard owner's free speech rights.
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Alaren wrote:

That said, I can see a decent argument for tortious intentional infliction of emotional distress--particularly if the girlfriend did in fact have a miscarriage.


Great, so she can collect damages from him; he can leave the billboard up and keep BJ happy, and everybody wins. Everybody but the poor little dead baby, who wanted nothing more than to grow up and be litigious, contentious, and imbecilic like everybody else.
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desertfox2004 wrote:
MWChapel wrote:
slatersteven wrote:

But there is a constitutional right to freesoim of speech. So whilst you might be able to argue that building regualtions might be able to stop a billboard being put up they could not refuse it on content grounds as that would infringe his right of expresion.


In the US, you can sign away some of your constitutional rights, contractually. For instance, if I bought a house in a neighborhood association and I signed a deed agreement that I could not post any signs on the yard, and I did. I could legally be forced to remove it.

If the owner of the billboard signed a zoning agreement for his billboard that list disallowed content, he too be be obligated to remove it.


I'm no lawyer, but I think there are probably a lot of these local ordinances that would not stand up to a constitutional challenge. The reason a lot of them remain in place is probably because usually no one feels compelled to go to the trouble of challenging them in court - it's easier to just obey. In this guy's case, I would think freedom of speech considerations might outweigh zoning issues, but again, what the hell do I know. I do think the comparison to the Westboro cult is apt - they dispense disgusting drivel daily (say that three times fast) in public places and despite the general repulsion that people feel about their statements, it has been established that they are within their rights to express themselves. Of course, thinking on it a bit further, it does seem that local officials retain the ability to require these nuts to stay a minimum distance from the ceremonies they typically attempt to disrupt. Perhaps in the same vein, billboards can be regulated in terms of where they can and can not be placed, without infringing on the billboard owner's free speech rights.


It looks like you may be right.
Read the part(Equal protection) that covers almost this same instance. But you may also be right that even while it wouldn't stand up in the high courts, towns might still do it knowing that taking this to a higher power is costly work.

An instance locally, we had the city of Bee Cave block a local head shop from painting a mural by enacting a zoning restrictions to disallow all murals. They dropped the case, but only because they didn't pursue it. They were however able to get an injunction for several weeks. The owner however was willing to make his case no matter how far up the chain it would have got.
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Seems like if she's not named on the billboard her privacy is not an issue at all. Am I missing something here? Sure, the guy sounds like a complete asshole, but that's hardly reason to block him from putting up a sign? Especially a sign that's essentially advertising to everyone what a complete asshole he is.
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Alaren wrote:
It is well-established that men do not have the same rights as women when it comes to protecting the lives of their unborn children, [...]


This may have something to do with the well-established fact that men do not have the same responsibilities as women when it comes to gestating their unborn children.
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It bothers me that so many people use the right of free speech as a shield for their lack of common decency.
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
bjlillo wrote:
I think it's a thing of beauty.


BJ, suppose it turns out that the "women's friends" are telling the truth -- that she miscarried rather than had an abortion.

Would that change your opinion?


Suppose I put up the exact same billboard in a different state. Would that make a difference? I don't see how the message or presentation is different than any number of anti-abortion signs and placards, except that in this case people recognize the guy in the picture.

Bs He probably didn't intend the billboard as a general anti-abortion message, but intent is hard to prove.

Edit: big thumbs, small touchscreen.
 
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djgutierrez77 wrote:
Seems like if she's not named on the billboard her privacy is not an issue at all.


I have no idea of the legal side, but if I appeared on a billboard saying, "My wife did X" I imagine that a lot of people in my wife's circle of friends would know that she'd done X (or at least that I said she did).

It's much different from publishing her name and address; people outside her circle won't know who she is and many probably assumed that it was a stock photo rather than an actual case, but "not at all" seems incorrect.
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SabreRedleg wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
bjlillo wrote:
I think it's a thing of beauty.


BJ, suppose it turns out that the "women's friends" are telling the truth -- that she miscarried rather than had an abortion.

Would that change your opinion?


Suppose I put up the exact same billboard in a different state. Would that make a difference?


Somewhat. If there's a privacy issue it's that people who knew them as a couple can conclude that the poster is talking about her. If that poster is in a different state then that risk is reduced (although not necessarily by that much, since we've all heard about it).

This guy is airing something very personal in a very public way. I'm not a fan of that, but it's not for me to judge. If, however, he's airing something false then I think he's either unbalanced or a dick.
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Chad_Ellis wrote:
djgutierrez77 wrote:
Seems like if she's not named on the billboard her privacy is not an issue at all.


I have no idea of the legal side, but if I appeared on a billboard saying, "My wife did X" I imagine that a lot of people in my wife's circle of friends would know that she'd done X (or at least that I said she did).

It's much different from publishing her name and address; people outside her circle won't know who she is and many probably assumed that it was a stock photo rather than an actual case, but "not at all" seems incorrect.


Which is not a violation of her privacy, unless you consider posting "my wife did x" on your facebook page or saying "my wife did x" to a group of coworkers a similar violation?

More correctly, it may well be a personal violation of her privacy and the confidences she expects you to keep, but I don't think it's a legal violation of her privacy. If he put her name and phone number up there, sure. But his own picture, no name...like I said, he's an asshole but he's not doing anything that the government should be stopping.
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djgutierrez77 wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
djgutierrez77 wrote:
Seems like if she's not named on the billboard her privacy is not an issue at all.


I have no idea of the legal side, but if I appeared on a billboard saying, "My wife did X" I imagine that a lot of people in my wife's circle of friends would know that she'd done X (or at least that I said she did).

It's much different from publishing her name and address; people outside her circle won't know who she is and many probably assumed that it was a stock photo rather than an actual case, but "not at all" seems incorrect.


Which is not a violation of her privacy, unless you consider posting "my wife did x" on your facebook page or saying "my wife did x" to a group of coworkers a similar violation?

More correctly, it may well be a personal violation of her privacy and the confidences she expects you to keep, but I don't think it's a legal violation of her privacy. If he put her name and phone number up there, sure. But his own picture, no name...like I said, he's an asshole but he's not doing anything that the government should be stopping.


Facebook posting or coworker conversation is a bit different from a billboard posting, at least in my humble opinion.

Otherwise, I agree. Probably not much of a legal challenge, the guy is definately an asshat though.
 
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serdudds wrote:
djgutierrez77 wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
djgutierrez77 wrote:
Seems like if she's not named on the billboard her privacy is not an issue at all.


I have no idea of the legal side, but if I appeared on a billboard saying, "My wife did X" I imagine that a lot of people in my wife's circle of friends would know that she'd done X (or at least that I said she did).

It's much different from publishing her name and address; people outside her circle won't know who she is and many probably assumed that it was a stock photo rather than an actual case, but "not at all" seems incorrect.


Which is not a violation of her privacy, unless you consider posting "my wife did x" on your facebook page or saying "my wife did x" to a group of coworkers a similar violation?

More correctly, it may well be a personal violation of her privacy and the confidences she expects you to keep, but I don't think it's a legal violation of her privacy. If he put her name and phone number up there, sure. But his own picture, no name...like I said, he's an asshole but he's not doing anything that the government should be stopping.


Facebook posting or coworker conversation is a bit different from a billboard posting, at least in my humble opinion.

Otherwise, I agree. Probably not much of a legal challenge, the guy is definately an asshat though.


I meant in terms of the number of people who would know who the billboard was referring to.
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djgutierrez77 wrote:
serdudds wrote:
djgutierrez77 wrote:
Chad_Ellis wrote:
djgutierrez77 wrote:
Seems like if she's not named on the billboard her privacy is not an issue at all.


I have no idea of the legal side, but if I appeared on a billboard saying, "My wife did X" I imagine that a lot of people in my wife's circle of friends would know that she'd done X (or at least that I said she did).

It's much different from publishing her name and address; people outside her circle won't know who she is and many probably assumed that it was a stock photo rather than an actual case, but "not at all" seems incorrect.


Which is not a violation of her privacy, unless you consider posting "my wife did x" on your facebook page or saying "my wife did x" to a group of coworkers a similar violation?

More correctly, it may well be a personal violation of her privacy and the confidences she expects you to keep, but I don't think it's a legal violation of her privacy. If he put her name and phone number up there, sure. But his own picture, no name...like I said, he's an asshole but he's not doing anything that the government should be stopping.


Facebook posting or coworker conversation is a bit different from a billboard posting, at least in my humble opinion.

Otherwise, I agree. Probably not much of a legal challenge, the guy is definately an asshat though.


I meant in terms of the number of people who would know who the billboard was referring to.


My bad, that actually makes a bit of sense.
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