NYC Mayor de Blasio Advocates for Police Suppression of Non-Criminal Speech
As reported by several sources, including the New York Post, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio recently stated in a press conference “If someone has done something wrong but not rising to a criminal level it’s perfectly appropriate for an NYPD officer to talk to them to say ‘That was not appropriate, and if you did that on a higher level that would be a crime’ and I think that has a educating impact on people.”
What de Blasio is doing here is openly advocating for the suppression of non-criminal actions through state sponsored intimidation. This is otherwise known as terrorism – the illegal use of force or intimidation tactics in the pursuit of a political agenda. At the very least this idea dances dangerously close to being a First Amendment violation. If the speech in question does not rise to a criminal level (an extremely high bar in the United States) then neither state nor federal law enforcement has any business becoming involved. The state does not exist to police people’s thoughts, though Mayor de Blasio seems to believe otherwise.
de Blasio continued in the interview, stating “I assure you, if an NYPD officer calls you or shows up at your door to ask about something you did, that makes people think twice, and we need that.” What de Blasio suggests here is that the common citizen should be fearful of the state knocking on your door to “investigate” your lawful use of speech. In any other world this would be condemned as terroristic intimidation – the state exercising its monopoly on violence to intimidate and silence those who say or do things that the state simply doesn’t like. In other words, de Blasio, an elected representative, is advocating the use of state sponsored terrorism to push a political agenda.
Now allow me to get in front of the most likely counter argument, that being that de Blasio was simply suggesting for the police to do what is already done – arresting or otherwise warning people for speech or expressive actions that meet the current standard for criminal prosecution. This is a fallacious argument as de Blasio clearly suggests that police action should apply to legal, non-criminal speech or other legal expressive actions in the conference. This is one step away from outright criminalizing legitimate speech for the purposes of enforcing political agendas through state power. How exactly does de Blasio intend to define “something wrong”, as he says? This is a painfully vague, indefinite statement that leaves far too much room for interpretation. de Blasio, as a public representative of millions of people, should have known better than to advocate for state suppression of undefined non-criminal actions through use of the police force – a government entity very much capable of violating the First Amendment.
As far as I’m concerned de Blasio may as well be begging for civil rights lawsuits against him and the NYPD. Accordingly I wholly condemn de Blasio in his capacity as a public representative for his remarks. That an elected representative in the United States would advocate in an open interview for the use of state sponsored intimidation tactics to police thought crime is a deeply concerning development, and I would have expected a stronger rebuke from the media and other representatives than what little we’ve gotten so far in such criticism of de Blasio’s remarks.