The Metro Council is set to consider a bill - backed by the CVB and sponsored by Mike Jameson - which will limit the use of personal amplification - think bullhorns - on downtown thoroughfares - an effort to muffle the accusations by street preachers that various tourists are Whores of Babylon and what not.
Unfortunately, of course, such a law could have some unintended consequences:
“We understand and support free speech,” Spyridon said. “But when we’ve worked for decades and spent millions to create major events and draw people in for economic development, there’s got to be some sense of reason within the permitted areas that sure, if someone wants to protest, that’s fine, but if they want to try to ‘out-noise’ the event, then where are the rights for the event holders?”
Because Metro’s downtown noise ordinance exempts live music from bars, Cooper raised an important legal issue, pointing out that it “would be difficult to compete with the bar noise if you were not allowed to have a microphone or a megaphone.”
Cooper said he’s still unsure how the bill might be amended moving forward. Already, a handful of skeptics have chimed in to council members to express their concern about the bill.
Sarah Passino, who teaches English at Vanderbilt University, said she worries that the ordinance’s application to public right-of-ways would include the public park outside the Metro Courthouse, where demonstrators often meet prior to council meetings.
“I’m concerned that our public spaces are being curtained off to the extent that names like ‘public plaza’ are becoming a misnomer,” Passino told The City Paper.
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