There’s no question that Boston Mayor Tom Menino’s threat to confiscate “Stop Snitchin” T-shirts from stores that sell them would be a violation of the First Amendment’s freedom-of-speech guarantee (Globe coverage here; Herald coverage here).
But everyone ought to chill out — it’s not going to happen.
Menino’s no fool, and a little bit of over-the-top anti-crime rhetoric is hardly surprising given the rise in the city’s murder rate. This morning, though, Police Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole told WBZ Radio (AM 1030) that city officials would restrict themselves to asking merchants to do the right thing by getting rid of the shirts. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Here (PDF file) is the ACLU of Massachusetts press release on the subject. Perhaps its quick response was the reason for O’Toole’s measured reaction.
And by the way, can’t our two dailies at least get it right in reporting on the T-shirt’s message? The Globe has it as “Stop Snitching.” The Herald says it’s “Stop Snitchin’.” But the Herald also runs a photo of one of the shirts, and it clearly says, “Stop Snitchin” — no “g,” no grammatically correct apostrophe.