At last Monday’s special meeting of the Anaheim City Council, William Fitzgerald, identified as a spokesperson for Anaheim HOME, used his three minutes of public commentary to defame Council member Jordan Brandman with an anti-Semitic and anti-Gay rant that should be personally embarrassing to him. During those three minutes, Fitzgerald is within his constitutional First Amendment rights to speak and the Anaheim City Council can’t prevent him from speaking without violating his First Amendment rights.
But it’s what happened next that’s very troubling.
Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait said one minor sentence to address this stunning tirade, saying, “Mr. Fitzgerald, you have free speech rights but they’re to a point and I think that crossed it.”
Four days later, on Facebook, Tait stated:
“This past Monday, a special meeting of the Anaheim City Council was held, and an Anaheim resident, who regularly attends council meetings and regularly makes offensive comments, came forward and made statements that were particularly egregious as they were both anti-Semitic and bigoted, and directed toward my council colleague, Jordan Brandman.
I’ve had some time to stew on this terrible experience and I want to make it clear to anyone who was in City Hall Monday morning, and to all of the people who live, work, shop or play here in the City of Anaheim that we believe that all people are created equal, and that we soundly reject hate-mongering, anti-Semitism, and bigotry wherever it should rear its ugly head.
For years this individual has repeatedly attacked the council and me in a vicious and untruthful manner. My council colleagues and I sat stunned during his rant, because we recognize that the courts have found that censoring such comments would violate First Amendment rights to free speech. However, his comments on Monday set a new low even for him. I used the limited powers that are allowed to me as Mayor to attempt to bring forth some sense of civility from his comments. I have been told by our city attorney that I cannot legally stop him from saying such hateful things, but I can call it what it is, morally reprehensible.”