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  • Writer's pictureMike Brandly, Auctioneer

Are auctioneers “entitled” to their opinion?

Not just auctioneers, but rather, everyone is “entitled” (in the United States) to think (and maybe say or write) just about anything, or are they? Well, that “speaking” part is free from [current] governmental restriction unless (as we recently wrote:)

Ah, yes, there’s that freedom of speech which really — for the most part — isn’t. Even the government can restrict your speech if it constitutes incitement, fighting words, obscenity, defamation, commercial speech, and/or if such speech is outweighed by some other compelling interest.

Otherwise, in the private sector, no speech (spoken or written) is protected by the First Amendment. If a social media platform doesn’t like your comment, it can be deleted. If you come into my auction house and make nonsensical comments, I can insist you leave. Go ahead — put your comments below on this platform and see if they are “protected.”

Far more speech is not protected than protected. You can hold opinions inside your head, and believe them until the cows come home. But once they leave your head and are spoken or written, your rights to those opinions can be — and are — routinely infringed upon.

Here’s our previous writing about how auctioneers (and others, including legislators) routinely misquote and misinterpret the First Amendment:

Generally, it seems this entitlement stems from some misunderstanding. If your opinion is expected to be used as fact, then there is a higher burden — in that, you are rightly prepared to argue about it, defend it, and tell me why it’s correct.

You can tell me (or write) that coffee is best with cream and lots of sweetener. I can tell you (or write) that the best coffee is black, with no cream nor sweetener. One could conclude you’re entitled to your opinion and I’m entitled to mine.

Yet, if you tell me there are “three types of auctions” and I tell you there are only “two types of auctions,” and we expect our so-called opinions to be held as fact, then you’ve got to tell me how you get to three types, and I’ve got to show you how there are only two. Incidentally, there are only two types.

Yes, two types as prescribed in state law (Uniform Commercial Code § 2-328 Sale by Auction) all across the United States, and otherwise even testified to in court:

We have written prior about auctioneers and their freedom of speech and cited our fundamental rights. Yet, we note here such rights can be infringed upon.

This is hardly the first time auctioneers have discussed free speech in the legal context. Auctioneers in Tennessee argued it was unconstitutional to require a license for online auctions because of their right of free speech:

In summary, are you entitled to think about your opinions? You are. Are you entitled to write or speak your opinions? Possibly, but maybe not. If you don’t agree, you owe me your counterargument, as I’m prepared to defend my position.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, Brandly Real Estate & Auction, and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, and an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and Western College of Auctioneering. He has served as faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.

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