Fat lot of good asking the Tennessean again to stop delivering the Wednesday "free" edition of the newspaper to my address did last week. The sidewalk in front of my house was littered once more today with the Gannett Corporation product in spite of several attempts in the past year to stop the nonsense.
For the second time in a week I returned the litter to the paper's Broadway headquarters, and the receptionist asked for my address yet again. In response to my reiteration that my street has Tennessean litter all over it this morning, she retorted that "free speech" allows the newspaper such delivery. My response: "McDonald's would not be allowed to toss free Big Macs on a lawn and call it free speech."
It seems that the Tennessean is coaching their receptionists to take the line that I sensed publishers would take when push comes to shove: the commercial marketing of their product and throwing "free" litter on private yards and public sidewalks is warped into a constitutional freedom of expression. But how far could I push the First Amendment to cover whatever I wanted it to mean?
This morning if I walked up to the Tennessean's front door and, instead of addressing the receptionist, merely threw down the paper they first threw at my yard, wouldn't that 6-foot-tall burly security guard in the parking lot compel me to pick it up? Or what if I chose to stay in the lobby and exercise my freedom of speech in listing the ways that throwing paper on my yard for months is a violation of my rights? Wouldn't that same security guard eventually make me leave the premises, thus expressing the paper's property rights? How is it that the Tennessean has the right to exercise it's free speech at my property when I wouldn't enjoy the right to such expression at its property? And how does ending the uninvited trashing of a neighborhood at cost to diminishing timber resources ever impinge upon someone else's First Amendment rights?