Today City Hall reporters were eager to talk about Mayor Bloomberg's reaction to Sarah Palin's entree into the debate over the mosque/community center planned for downtown, and Hizzoner did not disappoint. Besides voicing his differences with Palin, the mayor also defended his adviser Andrea Batista Schlesinger's right to reply to Palin via Twitter. The Daily News reports that when asked if Schlesinger's tweet seemed to suggest Palin was being racist, Bloomberg replied:
I thought she [Schlesinger] was more than 'seemed to,' as a matter of fact. You know, anybody that's read Andrea Batista Schlesinger's book 'The Death Of Why?' should know what her views are. I've always tried to have an administration with people from all the ends of the political spectrum and everything in the middle. I think it's fair to say that Andrea is sort of on the left side of that, and she has a right to her opinion, and I will defend her right to speak her mind. I want to pick people from every place and let them work together. In terms of her comments on Sarah Palin, I don't agree at all. But I certainly agree that freedom of speech is just as important as freedom of religion...
I think our young men and women overseas are fighting for exactly this, for the right to, of people to practice their religion and for government to not pick and choose which religions they support and which religions they don't. Sarah Palin has a right to her opinions, but I could not disagree more. Everything the United States stands for and New York stands for is tolerance and openness, and I think it's a great message for the world that unlike in other places where they might actually ban people from wearing a burqua or they might actually keep people from building a building, that's not what America was founded on, nor is it what America should become.
Bloomberg also gave a slightly confusing answer to a question about whether City Hall should have a social media policy for employees who use sites like Twitter. Perhaps mistaking Schlesinger's Twitter post for e-mail, the iPad lovin' mayor replied, "We have one. We have one. It's a personal email, and she has a right to her speech. I don't think I should tell people what they can believe, should believe, or what they can say. There are rules as to you must make sure that you identify that you're speaking for yourself and not for the government. But I can tell you, if we kept people from being able to speak their mind, I think we'd be hard-pressed to attract good people."Got that, CNN?