To the editor:
To the person who ripped my lawn sign off its metal supports, a sign that referred to a measure on the ballot, you have violated my right to free speech!
You do not have the right to do that. In fact, in case you may be unaware of this, it’s against the law.
The First Amendment to our constitution states, “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.”
In removing the sign from the verge of the road near my mailbox, you have broken the law and, in so doing, showed disrespect for me and our constitution. I have notified the police of this action.
Now I’ll admit that I tend to generalize about the folks who don’t believe in the things that I believe in, like freedom of speech, the rule of law, democracy, decency, civility, generosity of spirit, nonviolence, and other multitudinous liberal concepts (yup, I’m one of those).
My generalization includes an assumption that those folks are all fools who have been misled by the lies of their leaders.
I admit this is very wrong-headed of me to make that assumption. I am forced to admit that those on the “right side of the room” are a mixed bunch, just like those of us on the “left side of the room” with the same right to think and speak freely.
Perhaps you, “Sign-Destroyer” don’t feel that way.
You may feel that you do have the right to violate my rights and break the law.
I hope not, though I do wonder if you feel that you can break other laws as well. For example, since I have repaired my sign and re-established it as an icon of free speech near my mailbox, I wonder whether you will escalate your behavior?
I am afraid of what you might feel free to do next, given the level of violence in our country today. What might I assume you might be capable of? I admit here again that I am truly fearful, but continue to hope that there will be no additional insult to my rights.
My right to express myself freely, without harm to any other human being, is so very important to me.
It’s important as one aspect of living in a democratic republic and a democracy.
It’s one of the most important gifts that democracy offers me and the rest of us in our country. To be able to speak our thoughts freely, in private and publicly, without the violent repercussions that would entail in a country governed by fascistic principles or one led by a fascist tyrant.
If I have offended you by posting my sign, you, too, have the right to express that hurt by posting your very own sign, or by writing a letter to this publication expressing your distress.
You do not ever have the right to prevent me from expressing my views, personal or political, nor do I have the right, though I would never want that right, to prevent you from doing the same. That doesn’t mean that I would not want to stand in the way of your freedom of speech if that speech disagrees with my opinions. I, too, have at times felt the inclination to rip up signs that make me uncomfortable. I just won’t ever act on that inclination.
In other words, don’t mess with my sign, and know that I would never mess with yours or anybody else’s sign.
If you feel ineffective or powerless at times, as do we all, and that is your motivation for removing my sign, well… welcome to democracy. You have the right to use one of the other magnificent gifts we have been offered as a way to become effective and powerful, to support and maintain our democracy, vote.
And, if you’re not registered to vote, the deadline is October 29th. Go do it!
Also, please, leave my sign alone. Thanks.