If you don’t have something nice to say about the Olympics, don’t say anything at all. That’s pretty much the gist of a new legally binding joinder agreement Boston Mayor Martin Walsh entered into the with United States Olympic Committee as part of the city’s Olympic bid. One part of it forbids certain citizens from voicing or writing (but at least not thinking) critical views of the Games or the city’s bid.
“The city, including its employees, officers and representatives, shall not make, publish or communicate to any person, or communicate in any public forum, any comments or statements (written or oral) that reflect unfavorably upon, denigrate or disparage, or are detrimental to the reputation of” the Olympics Games and its respective committees, said a copy of the agreement obtained by the Boston Globe on Wednesday. “The city, including its employees, officers and representatives, shall each promote the Bid Committee, the USOC, the [International Olympic Committee] Bid, U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes and hopefuls and the Olympic and Paralympic movement in a positive manner.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts responded on Twitter that it is “concerned about #freespeech issues involved” in the agreement and says that the organization is “looking into it.”
But should citizens actually be worried about the draconian nature of this new stipulation? Probably not. It seems the mayor’s office sees this archaic inclusion in the joinder as more of a formality.
“Mayor Walsh is not looking to limit the free speech of his employees and, as residents of Boston, he fully supports them participating in the community process,” Laura Oggeri, a spokesperson for the mayor, told the Boston Globe. “This was standard boilerplate language for the Joinder Agreement with the USOC that all applicant cities have historically signed.”
In other words, you can freely call it stupid.