Banner Planes & The First Amendment
posted by Dave Hoffman
Relaxing at the beach in New Jersey this weekend, I watched dozens of plane towing banners fly by. I suspect that I wasn’t alone this particular weekend in wondering about the messages the planes were dragging. Unlike the ordinary banners, which advertise casino events, or rarely marriage proposals, all of this weekend’s banners seemed to be critical of someone in City government in Longport, NJ, though its not clear quite who or for what.
“Longport – Is Mayor Russo The Premier Puppet?” ”
“Ken you and Barbie look great together. Does Barbie know about peter?”
“Longport – Just Say No More to Russo’s ‘Gang Of Four.’ Stay Tuned.”
“Twinthugs plumbing. No permits needed. Premier condos and houses only.”
“Ken and Joe nabbed in FBI sting. Did Ken sing?
Obscure enough to be interesting, vague enough to avoid libel, and (with nothing else to do but watch the surf come in) the topic of literally thousands of conversations over sandy ice cream.
Anyway, I looked it up. Turns out, the planes relate to a bitter zoning battle, that has turned into an even nastier first-amendment fight, as the local government here tries to prohibit a landowner from videotaping interactions with city officials. Not the kind of high drama that ends up in casebooks, but still kind of a huge, festering, mess! Law: you can’t escape it, even on vacation.
If anyone else saw these banners, and recalls some of the other messages, feel free to comment.