Does Proposed Anti-Discrimination Bill Infringe On Free Speech?

Download Audio

A proposed bill on Beacon Hill is generating controversy for what opponents say is a violation of free speech.

The "Act Prohibiting Discrimination In State Contracts" would require any person or business seeking a state contract of more than $10,000 to certify that they're in compliance with Massachusetts anti-discrimination laws.

It sounds reasonable, but the bill is at the nexus of a heated debate: Israel, the Palestinian people, and the right to boycott. A similar debate, and a variety of proposed legislation, is going on in some 30 other states and there's a federal bill with even clearer goals: the "Israel Anti-Boycott Act," which would include criminal prosecution.

Proponents in Massachusetts note that the state's proposal makes no mention of Israel or the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement. But opponents argue that the bill infringes on free speech, and is deliberately aimed at curbing boycott, divestment, and sanctions activity in the Commonwealth.


Aaron Agulnek, director of government affairs at the Jewish Community Relations Council of Boston. Their group supports the bill. He tweets @aaronagulnek.

Liza Behrendt, Massachusetts Freedom to Boycott Coalition and Jewish Voice for Peace-Boston. Their group opposes the bill. She tweets @lizaveta9.

This segment aired on August 9, 2017.


Headshot of Jamie Bologna

Jamie Bologna Senior Producer/Director, Radio Boston
Jamie Bologna was senior producer and director of Radio Boston.


Headshot of Meghna Chakrabarti

Meghna Chakrabarti Host, On Point
Meghna Chakrabarti is the host of On Point.



More from Radio Boston

Listen Live