BART Riders Have No Right to Free Speech, Says Spokesjerk

Illustration for article titled BART Riders Have No Right to Free Speech, Says Spokesjerk

Like most days, there was a protest in San Francisco yesterday where people said silly things. But atypically, this one was semi-organized by hacker collective Anonymous. Also unlike most San Francisco protests, there was sort of a point to it.

Monday's protest was a reaction to BART cutting off cell phone service during a previous protest last week. Which, according to BART, is no big deal.


Exceptionally bad-at-his-job BART spokesperson Linton Johnson justified the cut-off by explaining that your constitutional protections don't apply on BART platforms.

"Outside the fare gates, that's the public forum area. Inside the fare gates is a non-public forum and by law, by the Constitution, the U.S. Supreme Court, there is no right to free speech there."

Johnson did not say whether or not the agency has plans to quarter soldiers at your house. [via]

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The question rests, really, if the BART is considered a public or private entity. Private entities can regulate free speech - for example, a shopping mall is private and thus free speech is not protected within the parameters of the mall. The sidewalk, however, is open.

If the BART is a public entity then it becomes more tricky to navigate. If 1st amendment rights are protected, then what grounds are there from restricting someone bringing a boom box on board a BART train? At what point does free speech interfere with passenger comfort?

Also to be considered are whether natural monopolies such as utilities and transport count as public or private entities since they are providing a service at a cost.