Down in Pinellas Park one of them put up a sign saying:
“One Nation Obama.”
Many people didn’t like that and the city agreed, although for a different reason.
“Code officials mailed two citations to Randy Heine, owner of Rockin' Cards and Gifts, 7451 Park Blvd., in unincorporated Pinellas on the edge of Pinellas Park.
The first said Heine was violating a county ordinance that permits only one freestanding sign on business property. Heine already has his main sign, which bears his business name and special deals on naughty novelties, gay cards, lingerie, whipped cream chargers and rolling papers.
The second citation says that the fence Heine erected around the Obama sign is too high at 4 feet. The height limitation for fences is 3 feet.
Heine said he plans to fight the citations, which he sees as an attempt to stifle his political speech.
"My personal opinion is ... the government is run by Christians (who have decided) you've got to punish him," Heine said. "I feel like I'm being punished for exercising my First Amendment rights.
In the meantime, over in Oklahoma:
The police officers who stopped Oklahoma City motorist Chip Harrison and confiscated a sign from his car told him he has a right to his beliefs, but the Secret Service "could construe this as a threat against President Obama," according to the incident report released this morning.
The sign, which read "Abort Obama Not the Unborn," was returned to Harrison later that day, the report said.
Police spokesman Steve McCool said this morning that the sign was taken in error, and Oklahoma City residents should not be worried that their First Amendment rights will be violated.
Harrison told the officers that in his opinion the words "Abort Obama" meant to impeach him. He told the officers he does not believe in abortion because he is a Christian.
Harrison said he later received a call from a person who said he was a lieutenant supervisor for the Internal Investigations Department and wanted to know his location and return his sign to him.
According to Harrison, the supervisor said the Secret Service had been contacted on the matter and had told them the sign was not a threat to the president.
''The Secret Service called and said they were at my house," Harrison said.
After talking to his attorney, Harrison went home where he met the Secret Service.
''When I was on my way there, the Secret Service called me and said they weren't going to ransack my house or anything ... they just wanted to (walk through the house) and make sure I wasn't a part of any hate groups."
Harrison said he invited the Secret Service agents into the house and they were "very cordial."
''We walked through the house and my wife and 2-year-old were in the house," Harrison said.
He said they interviewed him for about 30 minutes and then left, not finding any evidence Harrison was a threat to the president.
''I'm still in contact with a lawyer right now," Harrison said. "I don't know what I'm going to do."
Harrison said he feels his First Amendment rights were violated.
McCool said the officer who pulled over Harrison misinterpreted the sign.
And of course both the Left and the Right are in a dither. Both think their rights have been violated, but…. of course…..not the rights of the other. Well, in my former life I was not a lawyer, but I think this demonstrates the problems with our political discourse.
The Constitutions says:
"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
That's what it says, and it is pretty plain. At the same time that does not give a person the right to slander, libel or cause harm to another. This is the basis of the law saying you can't threaten the Prez. (You can't threaten anyone with harm without running afoul of the law. It is called assault and can get you arrested.)
Further, the Constitution protects POLITICAL speech. That means I may call for the impeachment of Obama and say his policies are wrong, etc.
The Constitution does not protect COMMERCIAL speech. If you work for MacDonald's you can't say something like, "I wouldn't biggie size that; the burgers suck today," and be protected by the Constitution.
Further there is a difference between slander and libel of PUBLIC and PRIVATE individuals. While you may be free to go on TV say that Obama is not the brightest bulb on the tree, saying the same about your next door neighbor on TV could get you sued. (Those aren't good comparisons but the best I can do right now.)
There was a time when insulting someone could get you challenged to fight a duel or be branded as a coward. The modern day equivalent is flame wars on Blogs and Forums.
So the Oklahoma sign was, in the analysis of the Secret Service not threatening and protected. I happen to disagree. I think the word "abort" clearly refers to an act of violence although the individual didn't intend it that way, and that is why the Secret Service let the matter drop. I doubt the man put the sign back up.
In the Florida situation the property owner is making a political statement, but he is doing so illegally. Under the equal protection concept of our laws, since everyone is prohibited then he also is prohibited. Taking it further, you can't put up your own radio station and start broadcasting. I agree with the city.
This was a subject of discussion last night with a couple of guys while having a couple of buds, or the equivalent thereof. Both expressed shock that I agreed with the police in Oklahoma but expressed relief I could see more clearly in Florida.
One wondered why then I objected to Obama objecting to him being called Hussein.
It’s simple. Hussein was his middle name. He had no right to try and restrict its use because some might think it proved him a Muslim.
I don’t like politicians telling me what I can call them. If successful it leads to further enlargement of their egos and God Complex.
Which leads to this.
`I don't know what you mean by "glory",' Alice said.From, “Through the Looking Glass,” by Lewis Carroll
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. `Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant "there's a nice knock-down argument for you!"'
`But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument",' Alice objected.
`When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less.'
`The question is,' said Alice, `whether you can make words mean so many different things.'
`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master -- that's all.'
Hat tip to Bill and Edward from the Tennessean. The above is an expansion my coments there.