So, when my beloved Freedom of Speech comes under attack, I get a bit ornery. Once again, our prudish state legislature is trying to curb Oregon's freewheeling rights. After being slammed down twice before--in 1994 and again in 1996--the state legislature has once again put a measure on November's ballot that would re-draft (read: re-strict) Free Speech.
On the surface, Measure 87 sounds quite reasonable--it purports to regulate the location of "sexually oriented" businesses through zoning. But don't be fooled; this ballot measure is as dangerous as Jesse Helms in sheep's clothing.
87 is not about strip joints. What's truly in jeopardy are our art galleries, book stores, and movie rental stores. Why do you think that Oregon Librarians Against Censorship has lined up against 87? The ACLU? Powell's? Cinema 21? Us.
Under the proposed law, cities and counties around the state could shut down and relocate businesses that sell or rent products that include nudity. That's the sneaky part: cities and counties already can shut down strip joints that run foul of the law. Measure 87 simply gives cities a bigger censorship stick to carry.
What's even sneakier is the language used in the measure. The initiative claims that Measure 87 will "remove the limitations that the state constitutional right of free expression places on the authority of a local government." Removing limitations? Sounds good thing, right? Read on.
The initiative goes on to explain that, in place of the state's current freedom of speech rights, 87 will give the rights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. Nothing wrong with that, right? Wrong!
Oregon's founding fathers had the smarts to supersize our freedom of speech--actually giving us more rights than the federal constitution guarantees. That's the beauty of state's rights: The U.S. Constitution merely serves as a starting point, on which states may pile bigger and better freedoms. And Oregon already has that. Don't let them take away our rights. Vote NO, NO, NO on 87.