I realize that I am not a journalist nor is Blogging Blue a newspaper. But as an individual American expressing myself and publishing my own ideas for all of the world to see…the First Amendment protections surrounding freedom of speech particularly, are important to me. The event(s) that I am about to write about, the link to the original article is included below, occurred in Texas. I am not surprised. Texas looks upon itself as unique within the United States and that is even spelled out a bit in their Constitution. And I doubt that this is the first step in a concerted effort to limit individual rights under the first amendment…but you never know…the local politicians would certainly have been emboldened by the national discussion…even pronouncements coming out of the White House twitter account. At minimum it is a blatant attempt to silence one very vocal opponent. So I need to fire a shot across their bow saying
get off my lawn, hands off THE First Amendment.
So here’s what went down: Did Texas woman’s political yard sign go too far? Sid Miller calls her out, and others call the cops. And here’s the sign:
I pulled this sign out of the full photo in the article for emphasis. You can see the entire yard display of a typical raft of political yard signs surrounding this. But here’s the rabbit hole:
Marion Stanford expected the political sign she painted to rile up some folks in her small town of Hamilton in Central Texas.
But she didn’t expect to end up in a heated Facebook exchange with Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller, or for the police to show up to confiscate her sign.
“Here we have a political party that is using women,” Stanford said. “I thought the sign represented what is going on now, and we can’t just stand quiet. I wanted to tell people we could stop it with voting.”
Miller, who is notorious for sharing controversial posts to his nearly 800,000 followers, shared a photo of Stanford’s sign with the caption: “This is in Hamilton, Texas and is supposed to be Judge Kavanaugh’s young daughter. Notice my opponent’s sign in the background. The Democrat sleaze knows NO bounds!”
Stanford said she painted the sign last week after watching Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh testify about the sexual assault allegations against him.
“That was not Judge Kavanaugh’s daughter,” she said. “The cartoon was made last year by Washington Post cartoonist Ann Telnaes, a Pulitzer Prize winner.”
I tried to find the original Ann Telnaes cartoon for comparison, but haven’t found it so far. But from the hundreds of others that I have scrolled through, this certainly has the edge and flair that you would expect from a Telnaes cartoon.
So is this cartoon a bit rude for someone’s front yard? Maybe so. It is Constitutionally protected speech, that’s a 100% certainty. Do people have a right to contact her and discuss it with her? Again that’s a 100% certainty. You have the right to your speech but you don’t have the right to be protected from the reactions of the rest of humankind. So far, so good.
So who is heaven’s name is Sid Miller that he gets to create a description and backstory about this sign out of whole cloth? It is pretty straight forward. One female figure wearing a skirt, one cartoonish elephant star spangled, one (appropriate) four letter word, and that’s it. The only thing I missed was there seems to be a little bit of questionable contact with the female on the part of the elephant. So where does he get to read in all of the other garbage about daughter’s and sleaze and whatever? You wanna complain about an image you don’t like…you got that right…but once again you don’t get to use your own made up facts. Mr. Miller went out of bounds to stir up his base in an election cycle. We know who’s wearing the sleaze here.
But if that were the end of the story, it wouldn’t be such a heinous attack on free speech. It goes further. Remember that line about the police above? Well this gets weird.
Miller’s post attracted thousands of reactions, with some Facebook users calling Stanford a pedophile and saying that her sign was pornogaphy and that she should be arrested.
Stanford said she began to receive phone calls and was harassed on Facebook. Tuesday evening, she said, police came to her house and said they had received complaints.
“Police told me to remove the sign or they would take it and would arrest me,” Stanford said. “So I let them take the sign.”
This is where the line gets crossed. The police used threats and coercion to remove a sign from private property that is well within an American’s rights under the First Amendment. But the city administrator knows the police crossed the line:
The city manager of Hamilton, which is about 100 miles southwest of Fort Worth, denied that police mentioned arrest or forcibly took the sign.
“It’s political season, and a citizen here placed a yard sign that featured a political animal taking an inappropriate position with a young child,” Pete Kampfer said. “A police member visited the owner’s home, and the owner asked the officer to take the sign.”
Kampfer said the city strongly values freedom of speech and the Constitution. The sign is still at the police station.
Simple solution…the police should return the sign and it should be placed back in Ms. Stanford’s yard. Or there should be a suit against the Hamilton Police Department post haste.