Via Fox News:
The Philadelphia Human Relations Commission has launched an investigation at the request of the mayor after a well-known magazine published an essay that explored perspectives of white citizens on the issue of race relations.
Mayor Michael Nutter called on the commission to consider rebuking both Philadelphia Magazine and writer Bob Huber noting that “the First Amendment, like other constitutional rights, is not an unfettered right.”
Nutter’s fury was directed at a cover story titled, “Being White in Philly.” The story included conversations with mostly anonymous residents who detailed race relations in the City of Brotherly Love.
“In a city that is largely poor and segregated, white people have become afraid to say anything at all about race,” Huber wrote on the cover of the magazine. “Here’s what’s not being said.”
But Mayor Nutter, a Democrat, believes it should have remained unsaid.
“This month Philadelphia Magazine has sunk to a new low even for a publication that has long pretended that its suburban readers were the only citizens civically engaged and socially active in the Philadelphia area,” Nutter wrote in a lengthy tirade to the city’s human relations commission.
He called the story “disgusting” and an “uninformed, ill-advised, ill-considered, uninspired, and thoroughly unimaginative.”
This is probably the craziest part of Mayor Nutter’s letter:
While I fully recognize that constitutional protections afforded the press are intended to protect the media from censorship by the government, the First Amendment, like other constitutional rights, is not an unfettered right, and notwithstanding the First Amendment, a publisher has a duty to the public to exercise its role in a responsible way. I ask the Commission to evaluate whether the “speech” employed in this essay is not the reckless equivalent of “shouting ‘fire!’ in a crowded theater,” its prejudiced, fact-challenged generalizations an incitement to extreme reaction.
UCLA Professor Eugene Volokh’s response:
The implication — which I think is very strong — that the “speech” is indeed unprotected by the First Amendment under the “incitement” exception is absolutely wrong: UnderBrandenburg v. Ohio and Hess v. Indiana, the speech in the article is clearly protected. (It’s true that a narrow range of speech that is intended and likely to produce imminent illegal conduct, with imminent meaning within hours or at most a few days, rather than at some unspecified future time, is unprotected, but the magazine article definitely does not fit within that.) And it’s quite troubling, I think, when a mayor (who has power over, among others, the Police Department) suggests that the expression of opinions that he disapproves of about race is constitutionally unprotected.