Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Doesn't Anyone Remember the First Amendment??

I don't care what side of the aisle you sit on or whether you sit IN the aisle, it behooves us ALL to care about the First Amendment. Any one of us could be next.

Conservative Kiosk Owner Denied New Lease at North Carolina Mall
Tuesday , July 28, 2009

By Joshua Rhett Miller

ADVERTISEMENT The owner of kiosk that sells conservative merchandise in a North Carolina mall won't get to continue pushing "Impeach Obama" bumper stickers after his lease expires Friday.

The Concord Mills mall decided not to renew its contract with Loren Spivack, who fought to stay in business in the shopping center.

Spivack says his kiosk, Free Market Warrior, is being nudged out for purely political reasons.

After meeting with officials from the Concord, N.C., mall Tuesday afternoon, the two sides could not reach an agreement to keep the 8-foot-long kiosk where it was.

"Mr. Spivack has not agreed to remove the objectionable merchandise and will be moving out of Concord Mills at the end of his lease," a statement from the mall said.

Spivack told FOXNews.com that mall officials specifically asked that three bumper stickers and a T-shirt believed to be linking President Obama with terrorism be removed from the kiosk, including one that read, "Obama Wins and They Celebrate in Iran, Do You Get It?"

Four employees at the kiosk will lose their jobs at the end of business on Friday, Spivack said, but he'll continue selling the merchandise online.

"It was a very difficult decision," Spivack told FOXNews.com. "I really don't want to [leave the mall], but I was even less comfortable having this corporation essentially dictate which criticisms could be made."

The hottest sellers at the kiosk, which has been in the mall for roughly three months, are items that are critical of President Obama, Spivack said.

They include a “Work Harder, Obama Needs the Money” bumper sticker and a T-shirt that lists the top 12 things Obama has been doing as the economy crashes.

Among the other merchandise sold at the kiosk and on its associated Web site are GOP elephant bobblehead dolls, a Republican president jigsaw puzzle and baby bibs that say, “My parents chose life. Thanks Mom and Dad!”

Asked if he felt targeted by mall officials due to those items, Spivack replied, “There’s no question. There’s no issue other than the material we’re selling.”

The brouhaha began, he said before his request was denied, when someone wrote a letter to the editor in the Charlotte Observer criticizing his business for promoting racism and sexism.

“This apparently got the attention of the national management,” Spivack told FOXNews.com. “They came down with a decision that we had to leave and that our lease would not be renewed when it expired.”

Spivack said he met briefly with mall manager Roy Soporowski on Sunday, the same day about 100 people rallied in front of the mall to support him and his right to the sell politically-charged merchandise.

“We didn’t come to any conclusions, but we agreed to speak again [Monday],” Spivack said. “We’d obviously like to stay, that would be very positive.”

Soporowski did not respond to several interview requests on Monday. A spokeswoman for Simon Property Group, which owns the mall, declined to be interviewed for this report.

Spivack wouldn't say how much he pays to rent the kiosk, citing a condition of his contract. And while the future of his business is currently in jeopardy, the controversy has had a noticeable benefit.

“Sales have definitely picked up,” he said. “Simon Malls clearly did me an unintentional favor.”


jenheadjen said...

Wow. I'd be interested to learn the name of the national chain so I can be sure to (cough) show them my support of the 1st Amendment and my opinion of their lack thereof. Thanks for sharing Jeannetta!

Jeannetta said...

I know, I was wishing I could write and tell them I'll stop shopping there. They probably could care less what a "right wing extremist" from Oregon things ;)

Bitmap said...

What I got from the story is that a private property owner wants to control what kind of merchandise is sold on his property.

Would you allow the Black Panthers to hawk their "Black Power" T-shirts at your garage sale? Would you allow the KKK to sell their nazi flags at your garage sale? How about NAMBLA or GLBT groups?

I like the items that they don't want the guy to sell on their property and I wish they would let him sell them there. However, it is their property.

I don't see that as a 1st Amendment issue.

I would like to know the property owners and what other businesses they own so I could avoid them if they are in my area.

jenheadjen said...

I agree and respectfully disagree. Of course, as property owner, they can regulate what is sold on their property. I should dearly hope so. But what would the war cry be if the political views were reversed?

May I also add, this man's merchandise didn't suggest physical harm toward our President or anyone, as the Black Panthers or the KKK advocate at times. Even saying that Iranians rejoiced at his win is not suggesting physical harm be done to *anyone*. Granted, I wouldn't appreciate seeing anti-war posters/stickers in my local mall if my husband were still deployed. But then I'd just shop elsewhere. Anyway...

Bitmap said...

jenheadjen, I won't disagree with your expectation of hypocrisy if the situation was reversed. You are absolutely correct about that. However, that doesn't make it a 1st Amendment issue.

I hope this hurts business at the mall.

Jeannetta said...

I do see it as a First Amendment issue. I understand your point, but if we don't have the freedom to speak in certain situations or places, then what good does the Amendment afford us? I understand property rights, but should one right always trump another?

Blackstone Law said...

On one hand this is clearly a case of two property owners trying to negotiate terms of their relationship. Party A wants to rent Party B's land/property. Party B wants to control what Party A does on their property. Party A doesn't like it. As long as Party B does not discriminate based on current laws then I do not see this as a 1st Amendment issue. Party B does not have to allow Party A to exersise his right to free speech on Party B's property. In my house I can control what you say and do; if you do not like it you can leave my house.

Jeannetta said...

I see your point Blackstone, thank you.
Where then do we have the agency to exercise our First Amendment rights? Is it only in reference to what we write in our own homes; speak in a public arena-*someone* owns the arena.
If we aren't free to sell what we want in our shop-we rent the property, at the "moment" it's ours isn't it-then why isn't that taking away our right?
I understand what you are saying, but how then do we define our First Amendment right? Where does it say there are boundries?