Stealing signs violates rights

Posted 10/3/08

I watched as Sen. Barack Obama told a crowd, "Talk to your neighbors. Argue with them. Get in their face." I wonder if that included stealing their …

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Stealing signs violates rights


I watched as Sen. Barack Obama told a crowd, "Talk to your neighbors. Argue with them. Get in their face." I wonder if that included stealing their McCain-Palin yard signs?

You see, I've been going to the McCain-Palin victory headquarters and campaign offices, getting all the yard signs and bumper stickers I can find then sharing them with my friends and neighbors.

It's been particularly disappointing that they keep coming back to me and asking for more saying, "Somebody stole the one you gave me." This isn't just one case. It's a recurring theme.

Oddly enough, one neighbor has had three McCain signs stolen from her yard, yet the Obama sign in the next door yard is untouched.

Some will say that this is just harmless fun and not worthy of even bringing up. If there is a Republican out there who is stealing Obama signs or defacing them, then I say, "Shame on them!" I haven't heard any complaints of Obama signs having been stolen yet, but I'm sure I will as soon as this column is read.

Stolen? Yes! It's simply theft to walk onto a homeowner's yard and take a campaign sign that doesn't belong to you. Further, it is a clear violation of that homeowner's First Amendment rights.

He or she wants to show their preference to the neighborhood and world. It is really an act of courage to put out a yard sign. Some people are very private and would not normally speak of such things.

But when they feel strongly enough to put out a sign for the world to see, saying they support Sen. John McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin, that is a matter of free speech. Therefore, it is a criminal act for another person to remove that person's expression of their belief under the cover of darkness.

Did Obama, when he said "Argue with them!" and "Get in their faces!" mean they were to also steal yard sign? I can't say that he did, but a definition of argue it "to quarrel, to dispute."

Well, stealing one's campaign yard sign is certainly disputing ones right to free speech. It is no different than walking up to a person at a rally and ripping their campaign poster out of their hands because you don't agree with them.

Getting in their faces means "confrontation," doesn't it? Isn't this the tactic of inciting one's supporters to become mignon's and thugs, as a bottom line?

Seems so to me. So, I see the stealing of yard signs as an explicit manifestation of the confrontation he's calling for. It says he wants his opponents overpowered by whatever means necessary.

Discredit them, denigrate them, get them behind me whatever you have to do.

Now, some will think I've overextended that interpretation of what he said. You only have to go to “Saturday Night Live” or comic (some think) Sandra Bernhard to see that they, as his mignons, are taking his "Get in their face!" very seriously.

These comics are allowed to express their free speech, no matter how offensive, to support Obama, but the neighbor who puts out the McCain-Palin yard sign is shut down by the simple act of thievery.

If this is the level of civility that will come from an Obama administration, it'll be a sad day in America.

Curt Dale, Ph.D., is a longtime Parker resident and a retired colonel of the U.S. Air Force.


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