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Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Ballparks as public spaces and free speech

Interesting interview with architectural critic Paul Goldberger about his new book, Ballpark: Baseball in the American City, in which he describes baseball parks as "a key part of a whole category of public space in the American city." I have a thing for old ballparks, so I look forward to seeing the book.

Goldberger's conception of the ballpark as "public space" is key to my arguments about fan speech. Because the First Amendment is understood as making (publicly owned or controlled) public spaces open for expressive activities, at least so long as expression is not inconsistent with other uses of that space. The grandstand of a ballpark is a large speech zone--the whole point of the space is to allow fans to speak in the form of cheering, shouting, waving signs, etc.

Posted by Howard Wasserman on May 15, 2019 at 09:31 AM in First Amendment, Howard Wasserman, Sports | Permalink


Striking Flynt,

Correct that philosophically it does include everything.But ,legally,and constitutionally,the problems are raised,when typically,government is restraining free speech. Because it has the power,the capacity,and the interest to do it,at the back of citizen criticizing its action or even otherwise when free speech is restrained(like porn issues).So,typically,those are the problems occurring frequently,or causing major legal headache.


Posted by: El roam | May 15, 2019 8:14:12 PM

"Concerning free speech, typically, the main goal of course, is criticizing governments"

Seems odd how many supreme court decisions dealt with obscenity (or advertising obscenity), if free speech is mainly about politics. Couldn't the first amendment have included the word "political" between "free" and "speech" if that were so?

My guess is that free speech includes all expression, with a couple of exceptions (like libel, fraud, treason, exploitation of minors, and true threats), rather than only includes political speech on matters of public concern.

Posted by: Striking Flynt | May 15, 2019 6:33:01 PM

Interesting indeed. But it seems that the author of the book, rather concentrate among others in capturing the tension between rural expansiveness and urban liveliness in the American ideal, as expressed in the evolution of baseball and Ballparks. Concerning free speech, typically, the main goal of course, is criticizing governments of course, rather than catharsis for mass in stadiums. In fact, in dictatorships, they would allow such catharsis, simply because, it would channel free speech to the "right arenas", over, criticizing governmental actions of course.

Posted by: El roam | May 15, 2019 12:37:44 PM

No, but that has nothing to do with public forums and everything to do with the limits on in-school student speech. But the same student could hold up that sign at, say, Soldier Field (just like the student could have held up that sign in that same space had watching the torch not been a "school event."

Posted by: Howard Wasserman | May 15, 2019 10:23:16 AM

So could a student at a publicly-owned school baseball field hold up a "Bong Hits 4 Señor Jesus" sign during the 7th inning, so long as he wasn't interfering with the game or otherwise being inconsistent with the use of that public space?

Posted by: Morse Codex | May 15, 2019 10:03:53 AM

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