Nipple-baring commentator's free speech rights violated, too? A Boulder councilwoman thinks so
Last week, we shared the story of Seth Brigham, who decided to speak at a Boulder city council meeting wearing just his boxer shorts -- a comment on a proposal that threatened to criminalize nipples. The measure's intended to throw a towel over annual events like the Naked Pumpkin Run and Naked Bike Ride.
Not Seth Brigham's boxer shorts.
Unfortunately for Brigham, he was arrested for trespassing and obstructing a peace officer before many words came out of his mouth -- not that a lot of people understood all of what he said anyhow. According to city council woman Lisa Morzel, who was present at the meeting, someone may have tried to fiddle with the sound system to block Brigham's message, potentially violating his right to free speech.
"It sounded like somebody up on the dais was scratching on the microphone, trying to make it so no one could hear Seth's comments," Morzel says. "There was a really obnoxious sound coming over the microphone."
To get a sense of what happened, check out the clip of the incident here. The microphone noise is proceeded by the audio switching off at about the video's midpoint, when a staffer pulled the plug on Brigham:
As a result of the noises, Morzel, who admits to be a bit hard of hearing, couldn't pick up some of Brigham's remarks before he was hauled away. She sees that as bad for Brigham and a negative for decorum at the council.
"The mayor [Susan Osborne] is supposed to facilitate the meetings -- all aspects of the meetings," she notes. "But here, you have a couple of council members directing the show, which is very confusing for the mayor and the rest of the council and the city staff."
Mozel doesn't accuse any of the council members by name, but Brigham began by making a critical reference to councilman George Karakehian and councilwoman Suzy Ageton.
Regarding Brigham's arrest, Morzel hints that the bust may have been an overreaction.
"It was the police officer's decision," she says. "But I'm starting my eleventh year on the council, and I've certainly sat through many citizen participations -- and this was not the most outrageous behavior I've experienced in these eleven years."
In Morzel's view, it's important for citizens to respect the opportunity to speak in council chambers, since "that's where we conduct the business of the city." But at the same time, "I don't want people to feel intimidated or harassed in their attempts to address the city council."
Even dudes clad only in their boxers.