Does your right to PUT UP a poster end there?

I asked about this in the Hiroshima Day thread in the Pit. If you recall, it started out with Halo13 sitting on a tack because his rally posters had been removed/obscured by other posters.

I could be wrong, but I was under the impression that if local ordinances allow people to post notices, that only means you’re guaranteed the right to put them up. I thought it was still your responsibility to monitor them and make sure they’re still there and not obscured, and repost if things are otherwise. I mean, it’s not like you paid for the space, like with a billboard or bus-shelter ad.

I think that if we’re just talking about walls or utility poles, neutral spaces that you can use without having to get permission from a specific person, it is simply a free-for-all, and there’s no recourse if someone usurps the space you claimed earlier. Is this so?

FWIW - sometimes there’s no “right” to place a poster.

The light poles in my are have small stickers that say it’s illegal to post things on them. Somewhat self contradicting.

After that limitation, IANAL but I believe that a public posting area is a public posting area. If I want to deface/obscure/replace an existing poster, that’s my “right”, too.


>>I believe that a public posting area is a public posting area. If I want to deface/obscure/replace an existing poster, that’s my “right”, too.<<

That’s not the way freedom of speech works. If someone posts an opinion, you have the right to post an opposing opinion. You don’t have the right to infringe on anyone else’s right to free speech by defacing or removing their poster. In fact, if someone wanted to press it, you could (and probably would) be convicted of violating that person’s constitutional rights.

There is only a finite amount of space on the public posting area. Unless there are rules about how stuff gets taken down then only the first few people have free speech.

At my school the poster policy is always controversial – especially since there’s a different policy for each department/building. It is sometimes stated, but not always, that posters may not cover other posters.

Whther or not the rule is stated, I’m sure it would be considered gauche to obscure others posters with your own. Whther or not the rule is stated, except in case of an election, I’m sure the governing body does nothing about posters which obscure others.
And, of course, ripping down approved posters, while rarely sanctioned, is not uncommon

Am I going nuts here, or is every one else? Does someone have an actual municipal ordinance or case law or something, or are we going to make this stuff up?

First tell us if you’re talking about a University or public streets or what.

Well, since Halo13 was talking about a university, so you can confine the discussion to that.

Although anyone who can contribute something about public streets is also welcome. Shortly before I left Pittsburgh, the city council was talking about forbidding notices on utility poles, because too many people were posting over existing fliers and making the poles about an inch wider all around. I don’t know if they followed through on this, but that’s the kind of thing I’m on about. There’s no real way to regulate what people put up, short of banning posting entirely. “Post No Bills”, in other words.

I rarely make things up but it is my right to do so if no one catches me at it. The President does it on a daily basis. It is not politically correct to ask if I am ‘nuts’ if I emulate the leader of our country.

A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with by another gives rise to an action for injury. Put the same way, if you have the right to freedom of expression and someone interferes with it, an action for injury may arise. It’s that simple. Except it’s really not that simple. People are going to tear down posters which do not agree with their own opinions and we all understand that.

So a constitutional right may not always translate into a viable right. Rather than post long, boring passages (no, I mean even more boring than THIS!), I will just put in a reference which, unfortunately, does not address this question exactly.

I will hustle up my ACLU attorney friend and attempt to get a better reading.

I invite comments and correction from constitutional law scholars and old hippies.

Walls, utility poles, and other private property may never, in any jurisdiction, be posted upon without the consent of the owner. In most cases, this prohibition is only enforced when the property owner complains or has a well-known policy against posting bills.

Public property and private property upon which one has permission to post are different, but the first amendment defends freedom of speech only to a point; time, place, and manner remain areas which can be regulated. Private property is subject to the whim of the owner; public property is subject to laws.

Remember that your right to speak can’t stop anyone from speaking more loudly than you.

Well, since you’re talking about a University it’s a matter of University policy and not law.

For example, at UT you can’t post signs unless you’re a registered student group or have special permission from the administration. The signs have to identify who posted them and when they were posted and can only be posted in specific places (bulletin boards or kiosks).

It doesn’t specifically say you can’t tear down other people’s signs, but you can bet that if you’re caught doing it you’ll get in trouble.

That said, just from a casual glance at the kiosks on campus, these rules are utterly and totally ignored. But if you make a nuisance of yourself, the rules are there.


oh yeah… UT sign posting guidelines.

Perfectly correct.

hazel-rah: So it may be safe to assume that the people who tore down/obscured Halo13’s posters may have been in the wrong. But I wonder if s/he was following the guidelines when s/he put them up in the first place?

Back up a minute. Can I get a cite for this?

Spoiler for those who haven’t read the new Harry Turtledove:

Or if you’re Reggie Bartlett, you could end up dead.