It's that time of year again. Dan Kennedy of WGBH has announced the 2016 recipients of New England Muzzle Awards, shining a spotlight on ten people, organizations, or groups that have grossly censored free speech within the past twelve months.
Massachusetts cities Worcester and Lowell made the list for their unconstitutional anti-panhandling policies, both overturned by courts with the help of ACLU of Massachusetts. Kennedy explains:
"Meanwhile, city officials in Worcester and Lowell approved similar bans, which, predictably, led to double trouble in the federal courts in the form of successful lawsuits filed by the ACLU of Massachusetts Last October, a federal judge vacated Lowell’s ordinance, which prohibited panhandling in the 400-acre downtown historic district as well as “aggressive” panhandling. A month later, a similar ordinance was overturned in Worcester. ...
"In a press release announcing the Lowell victory, the ACLU cites a column in the Guardian that is worth pondering. 'It is now clearly established that the first amendment protects people who express themselves by spending millions of dollars,' Matthew Segal writes. 'How can it fail to protect people who express themselves by asking for one dollar?'"
The MBTA was recognized for "failing to curb officers who violate the public's rights." Kennedy highlighted the case of ACLU client Mary Holmes, who was beaten and arrested by MBTA police officers.
Gordon College's offenses against ACLU client Lauren Barthold earned the school a Campus Muzzle Award, a subset of Kennedy's tradition focused censorship in higher education. Read more about the case here.