Santa Barbara Politics, Media & Culture

Thursday, December 21, 2006

ACLU Weighs In on Sign Controversy

KEYT reports that the ACLU says that the SBNP is improperly threatening local businesses with threatening letters from their Big Heavy, Barry Capello. Good for the ACLU -- someone needs to stand up to the ridiculous, community-bashing litigation practices of the SBNP.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The ACLU uh oh..... they love this stuff....wonder if that what Wendy had on her wish list Christmas,,,,maybe it was a surprise gift from Nipper or Travis.

12/21/2006 11:07 PM  
Anonymous David Pritchett said...

ACLU pushes back into News-Press McCaw and Cappello

Video of this TV news story is here
COPY AND PASTE the full URL as needed

In this special pre-pre-Christmas holiday edition of News-Press-Mess (21Dec.2006), KSBY-TV news reports that ACLU has sent its own letter indicating that the threats against the hairstylist and other local business owners are legally wrong and the "McCaw, Obey The Law" signs are free speech under the law.

This is called the pre-pre-Christmas edition of The Mess because the Public Relations person for News-Press, Agnes Huff, promises to issue their response to ACLU quite soon and certainly before the actual holiday in 4 days.

Text of this KSBY news story is here
COPY AND PASTE the full URL as needed

The KEYT-TV3 video version of the story is here

The preliminary first response from The Agnes is described here

But wait, there's more. Their latest self-absorbed spin is here, where they seem to think a Teamsters complaint to NLRB about a terse memo is as equally egregious as the termination of Melinda Burns or their refusal to negotiate now that the unionization is complete:

12/22/2006 7:56 AM  
Anonymous Nelville Flynn said...

It is regrettable that the ACLU would act to deprive a local business of legal protections against scurrilous attacks against it, since the ACLU does much that is admirable.

In this case, however, the ACLU shows itself to be an extremist organization that is both legally and morally in the wrong.

Legally, the News-Press enjoys the same protections as any business in defending itself against illegal product disparagement as well as personal defamation of character of its executives. The News-Press is exercising such rights in the Paterno case, notably. For the ACLU to attempt to handcuff the News-Press is unconscionable, particularly given that it is a small business with many outside forces arrayed against it.

Now the moral argument. The News-Press, like any respected newspaper, is both a watchdog and a conscience of its community. The vast majority of the Santa Barbara community continues to silently support the News-Press by subscribing to it, patronizing its advertisers and appreciating its journalism. A small band of troublemakers, in cahoots with unionists, business rivals and self-appointed journalism scolds like Paterno, is attempting to undermine and ultimately destroy this local institution and voice. Perhaps the ACLU does not realize what is at stake here, or else it would choose to spend its energies on more worthwhile causes.

12/22/2006 5:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nelville, shut up!

How did that feel? That is what the News-Press is trying to do to everyone in the community that disagrees with it, including its employees, lawyers in town, rival publications and authors, the religious community, and most recently, the business community.

Just because the News-Press has a lot of ink and paper and money and a beautiful building and a history in this community, doesn't mean it can reach out and silence everyone else. Nelville mistakes criticism for "deprivation of legal protection."

The "McCaw Obey the Law" signs are aimed at a public figure. As the ACLU letter says, as long as there is a legal dispute about whether McCaw/Ampersand has violated the law, then suggesting maybe she isn't obeying is not libel. It's the usual story about being able to dish it out but not take it.

Since the Teamsters started organizing, the News-Press must have published a dozen repetitious fraudulent screeds on its editorial page dumping on the Teamsters. Does the union sue, or threaten to? Does it file one of those bogus unfair labor practice charges like the News-Press has to challenge peaceful expression? No, because despite the use of scurrilous rhetoric like "Strong-arm" and "extortion", the Teamsters know in a labor dispute the law encourages, or at least tolerates, fiery and heated rhetoric. When even mild rhetoric is aimed at Ampersand and McCaw, however, she lashes out. She sends threatening letters to small businesses exercising their own First Amendment rights, she unlawfully fires and threatens to impose discipline upon her employees who are exercising protected legal rights, she sends out "cease and desist" letters, she sues a reporter, in unprecedented fashion for writing a "one-sided" article, when her p.r. flack refused to offer the other side, despite repeated requests.

Yes, the News-Press enjoys the same protections as any business, but also the same restrictions. That's the part that Nelville/Millstein forgets. Businesses are incorporated as a privilege bestowed by the state of California, and/or wherever Ampersand is incorporated, and libertarians are supposed to respect others' freedoms, not just exalt their own. The News-Press is going to get its corporate rear end kicked in the Paterno case, and hopefully, will end up paying not only its own lawyers, but Paterno's as well.

Nelville and company continually play the victim being haunted by an ever-changing band of conspirators, which is hard to pull off with so much cash on hand and lawyers in harness. Gilded circled wagons aren't so bad, eh Nelville/David?

How did the ACLU's letter "handcuff" the NP? What do you call Cappello's threatening letters to business owners in Santa Barbara? Exercising freedom? Why is that a one-way street? Is the News-Press the only business that gets to enjoy freedom?

It may be this hair salon episode that really shows the NP's true colors. Up to now, perhaps there were people who didn't care about journalistic integrity and unionization. Perhaps there are people in this community who, along with Laura Schlessinger and Nelville think, "Screw the employees. If they aren't sufficiently grateful, they can always quit." But up to the Cappello threat on a small business, the NP could have said it was the champion of business, keeping the Teamster hordes out of town. But even that phony mask is off now, Nelville. It's not about protecting business, it's not about the NP's perverse myopic and hypocritical version of journalistic ethics, it's not even about saving money; it's about scorching the earth and carpet-bombing every enemy -- real or perceived -- that might even consider voicing dissent. That includes all comers from all walks of life, and there is no category of people who are safe, except those who kiss the McCaw ring.

12/22/2006 9:42 PM  

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