The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin reports that a group backing church/state separation said yesterday it would sue the City of Rancho Cucamonga for playing a role in the removal of its message, "Imagine No Religion," from a billboard less than a week after it went up. The move came after a city official
told the billboard company it had received 90 calls of complaint against the
The city will say it did not force the company to remove the message—it only informed it of the high level of complaints. But the complainants, unaware of one another's protests, had no leverage over the company until the city's redevelopment director provided it with her none-too-subtle phone call. Now that the episode is in the news, those who support the right of the message sponsors to get their point of view seen could get together and urge a boycott of the goods and services the billboard company does advertise—Imagine no sales.
But the company shouldn't be blamed for taking the hint and not getting crossways with city hall. It's the city that has the duty, if it doesn't want to defend free speech rights, at least not to subvert them.