Are pamphlets, T-shirt sales legal at Cove?
An open letter to Councilperson Sherri Lightner:
Surprise. I stopped in the 3-minute parking space at La Jolla Cove this a.m. so my wife could check the water temperature (54-degrees, too cold for her to swim). I am used to tables hawking T-shirts devoted to saving the Earth, but not to a table with signs and literature devoted to saving my soul. I think my temperature might have risen a few degrees when I was visually accosted by a plethora of signs set up on the grass and sidewalk inviting me to learn about God and the Bible, and offering Watchtower in the language of my choice.
I offered to the smiling attendants at their setup table that their presence on city property was a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. The ever-smiling male attendant assured me that it was all right because the city had issued them a permit.
Well, I opined to the still-smiling proselytizer, then that makes both you and whoever issued that permit in violation of the law.
Correct me if I am wrong or please tell me who is responsible for this and what will be done about it. And while you're at it, how about getting rid of those ugly T-shirts (sales) as well.
Donald K. Ryan
Dear Donald K. Ryan:
I was forwarded your e-mail about Jehovah's Witnesses tabling in a public park. This is not illegal. Public parks are often opened by the government as "public forums." This is a legal term that means the space is available for anyone to exercise their free speech rights (within normal legal limits). Often they require speakers to get a permit. If the government chooses to open a forum, they may not discriminate against who is speaking. Any group that wishes to speak may do so, religious or otherwise, so long as they obey the law.
If this really bothers you we always suggest that people counter the religious message. Again, the city can't prohibit a message they don't like so an atheist message must be allowed as well. Our group offers "non-tracts" specifically designed to counter religious leafletting.
If you are going to stage this counter protest, we may be able to provide you with some free nontracts.
Andrew L. Seidel
Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc.
Dear Mr. Seidel
Sincere thanks for your enlightening response. It is satisfying to be assured that this is legal though I fail to see the difference between this and putting the 10 Commandments on a lawn at city hall. I shall cc this to those with whom I shared my complaint. While firm in my belief, I am not a zealot and will let it rest.
Daniel K. Ryan
Time for the seals to go
Even though I’ve been a Sierra Club member for over 30 years, I am adamantly OPPOSED to those miserable seals which have taken over the Children’s Pool.
What would Ms. Ellen Scripps say? She had the jetty built specifically to provide a safe place for young children to swim and play. My parents took me and my two sisters to the Children’s Pool in the 1940s and ‘50s. How wonderful it was. Ms. Scripps did NOT have the jetty built to provide a place for seals to breed, foul the water, and prevent children and adults from enjoying the beautiful cove which she created.