Mayor Gets City Council To Pass Law Demanding Critical Website Get Shut Down

from the not-going-down-that-freedom-of-speech-road dept

What is it with politicians and their problems with free speech? Apparently, the mayor of Bordentown, New Jersey, one James E. Lynch Jr., is pretty damn upset about the website I guess you can understand why. Now, of course, when you have critics like that, there are all sorts of things you can do in response. You can respond to the criticism. You can ignore the criticism. You can take legal action against specific statements if you believe they are defamatory. What you don't get to do is pass a law that requires the company that hosts the site to shut it down.

But, it appears, that's exactly what Bordentown Mayor James Lynch is doing.

Apparently, Lynch convinced the town council to agree to a "resolution" demanding the ISP that hosts the site take it down, saying that it "violates New Jersey's consumer affairs law and possibly other state and federal laws." I love the vagueness of "possibly" violating other laws. Now, as the article notes, the site was, at one time (briefly) just called, but quickly renamed itself. So it's unlikely that there's any confusion going on these days. Sucks sites have been found to be legal time and time and time again.

If there's specific defamatory content, as the mayor claims, I could see a reasonable case for dealing with that (though, in all honesty, doing so would just call more attention to the content). But demanding that the entire site be shut down? That's going way beyond what the law allows, and no town resolution gets to ignore things like the First Amendment. But, the best part may be the quote from Mayor Lynch:
"This website has to be removed," the mayor said. "I'm not going to go down the freedom of speech road. But some of the stuff that's on there is fraudulent. You want to put information out? Fine. Say you don't like me? Fine. But attacks on my wife, my daughter? I won't stand for that."
Except, you are going down that freedom of speech road by trying to take down the whole site, in pretty clear violation of the First Amendment. If there is specific content that is defamatory, then sue over that content. Do not use your position is mayor to pass a special resolution demanding a website be shut down completely.

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