Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Norfolk Sanctioning Obama For President?

I was at Norfolk's Janaf branch library today. Posted on the front door as you entered: a notice for a "Norfolk for Obama Organizational Rally" tomorrow.

Okay, if there's a community bulletin board, you might be able to make a case for it there. However, this was on the front door where everyone entering the library would see it. The obvious point was to push Barack Obama's candidacy.

A taxpayer-funded service shouldn't be used that way.


Anonymous said...

You're right. It probably shouldn't have been on the door. But since libraries typically welcome community groups that want to use their public meeting rooms for community meetings, it wouldn't have been out of place at all for that notice to be on a bulletin board.

Michael Ragsdale said...

This looks grey area, even if it was on a community board. I wouldn't allow any endorsements anywhere (even pro transit) in a public building like that

Anonymous said...

Michael, there is no implied endorsement in having a meeting notice posted in a public building unless the sign itself is on City letterhead in such a way that the reasonable person might confuse the sponsorship. (Consider the possibility that the sign Henry saw was placed there by a library employee because the organizers of the event got their dates wrong and the librarians were weary of people wandering in looking for a meeting on the wrong day.) Libraries are defined in no small part by their data neutrality. Meetings of all kinds take place in public library meeting rooms, school cafeterias, fire houses and other public spaces, subject only to responsible maintenance and common courtesy for other users of those spaces. Most new libraries, especially those in Va Beach, have rooms designed for this very purpose. Libraries especially welcome the free exchange of ideas. This is what the First Amendment is all about.