Judge Delivers Wrist Slap to Bloomberg's Graffiti Ban
As much as New York Mayor Bloomberg wished to sweep Marc Ecko's graffiti party under the rug, a colorful judge, yesterday, armed with the full weight of the first amendment and a wrist-slapping attitude toward the cities efforts to ban the event, Judge Jed S. Rakoff ruled in favor of Ecko and required the city to reinstate a permit Ecko had requested for a block party at which mock subway cars will be painted graffiti-style. The event was to promote an Atari video game which would make the event commercial, thus allowing the city greater control over the event but Ecko, Friday, said the game would not be featured at the event making the event fully covered by the First Amendment.
Out legal linguist Bucky Turco sat in on the decision yesterday and tells us the judge "ridiculed the city and scolded them for first amendment violations and for acting outside of their provisional power and authority."
The judge, explaining his decision, wrote, in part, "So, the only real issue is whether the City can lawfully proscribe an otherwise-approved public art exhibition on its streets because that exhibition involves painting graffiti on mock subway cars. The City does not suggest, nor could it, that such painting is itself a crime, since the 'subway car' panels are plainly mock-ups. But it claims the right to censor this exercise of free speech expression because, in the words of the Mayor on his radio program last Friday, the exhibition is tantamount to 'encouraging vandalism.' By the same token, presumably, a street performance of Hamlet would be tantamount to encouraging revenge murder. Or, in a different vein, a street performance of 'rap' music might well include the singing of lyrics that could be viewed as encouraging sexual assault. As for a street performance of Oedipus Rex don't even think about it."