April 07, 2005

Lifestyle Centers: Threat to Freedom?

In contrast to my praise yesterday of a shopping center cafe as a contemporary agora, Andrew Blum in Slate sounds an alarm about lifestyle centers--outdoor upscale theme malls--calling them "a bait-and-switch routine on the part of developers, one that exchanges the public realm for the commercial one."

At one such center in Phoenix, "[t]he list of forbidden activities includes 'non-commercial expressive activity'—not to mention 'excessive staring' and 'taking photos, video or audio recording of any store, product, employee, customer or officer.'"

Alarmism? Or justified concern about basic rights?

In accord with my recent decision that having an opinion is too difficult, I refrain from stating a view.