Caroling permitted -- on private property

Thursday, December 23rd 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

BETHANY, Okla. (AP) -- Carolers who want to sing in public in Bethany could wind up singing the blues this Christmas. The City Council has rejected a request to repeal a long standing city ordinance on noise to get rid of a prohibition against "yelling, shouting, hooting, whistling or singing on the public street."

City Councilman Richard Engle said the ordinance made door-to-door Christmas caroling illegal, but Mayor J.D. Johnston said it didn't apply to carolers because their activities took place on private property and not public streets. Johnston said allowing carolers on public streets would also mean allowing groups to sing Marilyn Manson songs or other "satanic" chants in the street.

The mayor said at least six area cities, including Oklahoma City and Tulsa, prohibit singing on a public street. He accused Engle of using the issue as a publicity stunt by bringing it up at Christmas. Engle argued that the ordinance was unconstitutional because it limited First Amendment rights to freedom of speech. The vote to repeal the ordinance failed 2-7.