Brave New Neighborhoods: The Privatization of Public Space by Margaret Kohn

By Margaret Kohn

Battling for First modification rights is as renowned a hobby as ever, yet simply because you will get in your soapbox does not imply a person might be there to hear. city squares have emptied out as consumers decamp for the megamalls; gated groups preserve pesky signature collecting activists away; even so much web chatrooms are run by means of the foremost media businesses. Brave New Neighborhood sconsiders what might be performed to guard and revitalize our public areas.

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31. John Dewey, “Freedom of Thought and Affection” and “Academic Freedom,” John Dewey: The Middle Works 1899–1924 (Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1976). 32. Zechariah Chafee, Free Speech in the United States (New York: Antheum, 1969), 411. 33. Hague v. S. 496. See also Chaffee, Free Speech in the United States, 409–438. 34. Forsyth County v. S. 123. 35. “Fence Case Knocked Down: Supreme Court Won’t Hear Challenge over Summit Perimeter,” The Gazette, July 13, 2001, A4. 36. “Horror Stories from Protestors, Police,” Seattle Times, December 7, 1999, A2.

16 Law enforcement hoped that brutal treatment would cow the political activists into submission. Conversely, the IWW wanted to bankrupt the city by forcing them to absorb the heavy costs of trying and jailing so many prisoners. On March 12, 1910, the fight was finally settled when Spokane agreed to honor the IWW’s right to freedom of speech, press, and assembly. 17 The IWW asked for several things: (1) landlords would not be intimidated into not renting meeting space to the IWW; (2) freedom of the press (the right to sell the Industrial Worker on the street); (3) release of IWW prisoners from city and county jails; and (4) the use of the streets for public speaking.

Although the government could create a place exclusively to serve as a public forum, it would probably be self-defeating. Its spatial segregation from other activities would guarantee its impotence. Political speech is often aimed at those citizens least likely to seek out such a place. Activists have many ways to reach people who are already interested in politics: phone trees, Internet bulletins, direct mailings, and lectures, to name just a few. The politics of the public sphere, however, is about the kinds of encounters that take place in the course of everyday life.

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