Victory for free speech as mayor backs down from censorship campaign. Had ripped down flyers from parental rights group.
The mayor of Newburyport, Massachusetts, decided he didn’t like the message being offered in his community by a parental rights organization.
That group, Citizens for Responsible Education, had concerns regarding public school indoctrination and certain troubling instruction happening locally.
So members planned a forum, called “What is Social-Emotional Learning? What every parent needs to know about SEL and culturally responsive teaching in our public schools.”
Subjects to be covered include critical race theory; gender identity ideology; sex education curriculum; and diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.
That was a message Mayor Sean Reardon decided he would not tolerate. So when the parents posted flyers advertising their meeting, Reardon ripped them down.
Now the resolution to that fight has resulted in a significant victory for free speech, according to a report from the American Center for Law and Justice.
“In addition to receiving a monetary payment to cover the damages CRE suffered, Newburyport’s Mayor Reardon agreed to issue a public statement acknowledging that his actions in ‘remov[ing] flyers from bulletin boards’ and the city’s posting policies should have better promoted the constitutionally protected free speech rights of CRE and, in the future, postings may not be censored based on their content or the viewpoints expressed,” the ACLJ reported.
“Additionally, Newburyport has agreed to revise its posting policies by removing its prohibition on religious flyers and its vague flyer review and approval process.”
The ACLJ reported that Matt Petry, a reporter for The Daily News of Newburyport, posted on social media that Reardon had confirmed he was ripping down the flyers.
The mayor claimed, to the reporter, the content “was not in line with the city of Newburyport’s values of being an inclusive and welcoming community.”
The parents initially asked the city to change its posting policy, but the city refused to respond.
Then, the ACLJ reported, the Massachusetts Family Institute and Attorney Kenneth A. Tashjy served a demand letter on the city, warning the policy was unconstitutional and a willful violation of free speech rights.