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Free Speech - is this too far?

walrus

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Here is a controversy occurring in an area not too far from my own. It has already made state-wide news and I wouldn't be surprised if the national wires pick it up.

At a small tanning bed supply store near my area the owner has put out a signboard. This signboard reads as follows:

"Is Micheal Jackson not guilty because he is a nigger, or has money?"

I personally find the content of this sign repulsive. However, I also believe it falls under freedom of speech. The sign is on private property, but is visible from a major roadway.

The only legal recourse I could see against this sign would be to rule that the word "nigger" violates obscenity standards. However, that is opening a whole new can of worms. It cannot be illegal for one group of people to say a word, yet legal for another. If this sign is ruled obscene, suddenly virtually every hip-hop song ever made becomes obscene.

As I said before, I do not agree with the sign, although I support this person's right to display it. However, if I drove by one day and saw five or six huge black dudes beating the ever-living crap out of the guy - I am afraid I would be too overcome with laughter to phone the police for at least half and hour.
 

aps

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walrus said:
Here is a controversy occurring in an area not too far from my own. It has already made state-wide news and I wouldn't be surprised if the national wires pick it up.

At a small tanning bed supply store near my area the owner has put out a signboard. This signboard reads as follows:

"Is Micheal Jackson not guilty because he is a nigger, or has money?"

I personally find the content of this sign repulsive. However, I also believe it falls under freedom of speech. The sign is on private property, but is visible from a major roadway.

The only legal recourse I could see against this sign would be to rule that the word "nigger" violates obscenity standards. However, that is opening a whole new can of worms. It cannot be illegal for one group of people to say a word, yet legal for another. If this sign is ruled obscene, suddenly virtually every hip-hop song ever made becomes obscene.

As I said before, I do not agree with the sign, although I support this person's right to display it. However, if I drove by one day and saw five or six huge black dudes beating the ever-living crap out of the guy - I am afraid I would be too overcome with laughter to phone the police for at least half and hour.

The argument could be made that those are "fighting words" which is an exception to the free speech right.

http://www.ci.slc.ut.us/mayor/speeches/free speech guidelines.htm

I would be embarrassed to use that word--ever. Even if I hung out with African Americans and they called each other by that word, I could not bring myself to use it.

BTW, Jackson is guilty. He is a pig.
 

JustMyPOV

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While perhaps the sign could have been worded less offensively, he has every right to display his ignorant language in his window. You can't draw a line when it comes to free speech, or you invite that line to be moved on any sort of governmental whim. On the plus side, whether or not you agree with that or any other court verdict, you're free to say so without fear of persecution.
 

Canuck

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Freedom of speech overrules the obsenity in this case

And all the names on that list are the real obscene thing

What should happen is a real big ass black guy ought to grab the list and track down the people and do a reverse rodney king on them
and then burn the slaon to the ground

chaos must be used in a situation like this the law of the land is obsolete
 

Schweddy

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It would be interesting to know the race of the owner of the tanning supply store.

It might make for a different perspective, especially if the owner was African American.

If he were, would it be just as repulsive?
 

FinnMacCool

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Its a disturbance. If I put a huge sign on the outside of my house that said Fick You and Your Friends! that doesn't benefit anybody so I don't see how I could possibly hide behind freedom of speech for somethign like that as it creates a public disturbance.

HOWEVER, the same could be said about someone putting a sign of Bush with the words Not My President on it and taken down for being a public disturance thats what bothers me. I'm not so worreid about the current laws (cept the patriot act) but any effort to try and even slightly lessen my freedon of speech makes me a bit frightneed because How far can it go?
 

akyron

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FinnMacCool said:
Its a disturbance. If I put a huge sign on the outside of my house that said Fick You and Your Friends! that doesn't benefit anybody so I don't see how I could possibly hide behind freedom of speech for somethign like that as it creates a public disturbance.


Yet hide they do.

Advocating violence during a war protest is quite a spectacle of hypocrisy at its lowest levels.

protesters.jpg



Fighting words indeed.

These guys are awaiting the delivery of a well deserved beatdown.
 

akyron

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galenrox said:
Well, the thing about free speech is that people should be able to say whatever they want. He'll pay for what he says, I doubt people will be frequenting that tanning salon as much

Does anyone else find it ammusing that a guy running a store whose sole purpose is making white people darker is calling a man whose skin is lighter than mine a nigger?



Yeah its silly.
This guy is a moron even though its a bar not a tanning salon.


MIJAC RACISM REARS HEAD IN GEORGIA

This statement appears on a sign that greets patrons outside a bar in Paulding County, GA. The owner, Patrick Lanzo, says the First Amendment protects his right to have the sign up. The NAACP quickly pounced on Lanzo, launching a petition to urge District Attorney Drew Lane to enact legislation that would force the sign’s removal.

“The sign is racist, hateful, and disrespectful, not only to the African American community, but to all of us who cherish equity and unity in our one human race,” reads a statement accompanying the online petition. “In addition to that, the sign is also a direct slander of Mr. Michael Jackson. No American should have to feel offended, or threatened as they travel through, or within, your county.”

Lanzo, who has a number of racist images in his Georgia Peach Museum bar (including cartoons of Klan members lounging on lynched black men and items disparaging Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), has been putting up signs for the past 10 years that pose questions about celebrities in the headlines. When asked why he chose to use the N-word on the sign, he said: “Because it’s my choice of word.”



There is a petition to get rid of it but the guy has been there for 10 years. Its likely he will be there annoying people for quite a while. I doubt any petition will have an effect unless the law gets involved somehow....
 

cnredd

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In addition to that, the sign is also a direct slander of Mr. Michael Jackson. No American should have to feel offended, or threatened as they travel through, or within, your county.

As if Michael Jackson is a regular traveler through Paulding County, Georgia...:lol:

“The sign is racist, hateful, and disrespectful, not only to the African American community, but to all of us who cherish equity and unity in our one human race,” reads a statement accompanying the online petition.

Great line from the NAACPETCPWDTLU...

Think it shoulda been used on Kanye West?:cool:
 

walrus

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As to whether the business in question is a tanning bed or bar - I stand corrected. The only sign (except for the one in question) advertises tanning beds for sale. I have since found out that the tanning bed place is his next door neighbor.

"In addition to that, the sign is also a direct slander of Mr. Michael Jackson. No American should have to feel offended, or threatened as they travel through, or within, your county."

I have a take on this that might **** someone off. Slander is the spoken defamation of another's character (the offense in question is actually libel - but why quibble?). The word "nigger" is a corruption of the Latin word negro which simply means black. In order to prove slander (or libel) Mr. Jackson would have to prove that the word is an untrue characterization. I am old enough to remember when Micheal Jackson was still an attractive black man instead of a hideous non-racial apparition. Therefore, as disgusting, ignorant and backwards as the word "nigger" is it is not an untrue characterization.

The sign was in no way threatening. If the sign threatened or incited violence against blacks I doubt we would even be having this conversation. No matter how offensive the statement is, it is simply a statement.

On the other hand, shortly after 9/11 this same sterling individual's sign read, "let's all kill a sand nigger". This could certainly be considered an incitement to violence. Either no one but me saw this previous sign, or the sentiment conveyed was not considered nearly as offensive because this one attracted no media attention that I was aware of.

I was not aware that as an American I was protected from offense. This is good to know, because I am offended my many, many things I see on a regular basis.
 

Diogenes

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walrus said:
In order to prove slander (or libel) Mr. Jackson would have to prove that the word is an untrue characterization. I am old enough to remember when Micheal Jackson was still an attractive black man instead of a hideous non-racial apparition.
The (Canadian-born) comic Red Buttons once observed, with regard to Jacko, that "Only in America can a poor black boy grow up to become a rich white woman." :mrgreen:

I was not aware that as an American I was protected from offense. This is good to know, because I am offended my many, many things I see on a regular basis.
The First Amendment protects you from prosecution by the state, but does not protect you from retribution by the offended parties.

A few years ago, I read the opinions of the Supreme Court on the flag burning case. The central theme of many of them was that the case was not prosecutable because it was not followed by the onset of immediate public disorder (like crying "Fire!" in a crowded theater). The facts of the case were that the guy had set fire to a flag at a convention of limp-wristed politicians (Republicans in this case), and they had called the police. I got the definite impression that if the guy had burned the flag at an American Legion or VFW convention, and been stomped into a grease spot before anyone called 911 (all trying to leave the area, of course), the Supreme Court would have ruled it to be his own fault.
 

danarhea

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aps said:
The argument could be made that those are "fighting words" which is an exception to the free speech right.

http://www.ci.slc.ut.us/mayor/speeches/free%20speech%20guidelines.htm

I would be embarrassed to use that word--ever. Even if I hung out with African Americans and they called each other by that word, I could not bring myself to use it.

BTW, Jackson is guilty. He is a pig.

Exactly. Words like that could even incite a riot, and should be regulated in public for that very reason. The sign might be on private property, but it is still in the public domain because the public can see it. Along with rights come responsibilities. That means, amongst other things, not to yell "fire" in a crowded theater, or to put up signs containing racial hatred which could start a melee.
 

mistermain

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I think the guy has every right to voice his opinion. My only issue with this is that it is in fact an explicative. If my child walked by the bar and saw the sign, they would surely ask me what that word meant (if they didn't already know). I'm all for freedom of speech, but when it is displayed in a conspicuous place where it may be viewed by children, etc, it is wrong.

Should police intervene, I don't think so. The townspeople should protest, and boycott the establishment. As someone said in an earlier post, the way to punish the guy is to hit him in the pocketbook.
 

Donkey1499

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The sign and its author are wrong, and I understand all the reasons why it's wrong. But I still have some questions, which were answered by my some of my black and white friends at school. But I just want to hear y'all's opinions.

Why can black ppl use the N-word freely, but when a white person uses it they're automatically a racist. Again, black ppl can call white ppl crackers and honkies, but it's not racist towards white folks, it's just called 'reverse-racism.'

I was told (even by my black friends) that black ppl have a double standard. But I'd still like to hear y'all's opinions on that one.
 

Deegan

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Donkey1499 said:
The sign and its author are wrong, and I understand all the reasons why it's wrong. But I still have some questions, which were answered by my some of my black and white friends at school. But I just want to hear y'all's opinions.

Why can black ppl use the N-word freely, but when a white person uses it they're automatically a racist. Again, black ppl can call white ppl crackers and honkies, but it's not racist towards white folks, it's just called 'reverse-racism.'

I was told (even by my black friends) that black ppl have a double standard. But I'd still like to hear y'all's opinions on that one.


White people can use it, as it can mean the same thing for a person of any color, at least that's what Senator Byrd said.;)

I think it's time that the leaders of groups like the NAACP, and the so called leaders of the black caucus, and even the black congressman themselves, take a look at themselves, and how they may be fueling this hostility. When they make statements like, "These Republicans are just white devils" and "Bush is worse then Bull Connor" all these things come back to bite you in the butt. Still, as I have said before, they are just giddy from the news of this, it certainly means racism is still alive and well, weeeeeeeee:roll:

One dumb redneck(yeah, they can say that without fear, anytime of the day)does not a problem make. Racism will never die, just as ignorance never will. The laws are in place, more then enough programs are in place, i.e affirmative action, equal opportunity in employment, etc. This is all that can be done, the war is over, times HAVE changed, it's time to move away from this issue.
 

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If your allowed to openly preach the killing of my people and over throw of my government in a mosque. I see no reason why this little gem should not be allowed
 

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mistermain said:
Should police intervene, I don't think so. The townspeople should protest, and boycott the establishment. As someone said in an earlier post, the way to punish the guy is to hit him in the pocketbook.
Some years back, a nudie bar opened in my area, next to a truck stop that is technically out in the county. There were some protests, but the folks around here are pretty tolerant of any consenting-adult behavior that is kept behind closed doors; after an initial burst of curiosity from the locals, business there seems to have settled down to a customer base of passing truckers who know what the hard-to-notice little roadhouse is all about.

A few years ago the bar put up a billboard on the interstate, a heavily travelled commuter route, and a funny thing happened. The billboard just couldn't seem to last the night without becoming so seriously defaced that it was unreadable. The sheriff's department made a serious effort to protect the sign and track down the vandals (the life expectancy of the sign rose to 48 hours), but it came to nothing; no one in the area knew anything at all about how the destruction came about, and yet it kept happening. After a few months the bar quit trying to replace the billboard, although the bar is still in business - a grungy looking little roadhouse back from the road and next to a truck stop with a lot of 18-wheelers in the parking lot.

Civic action takes many forms.
 

walrus

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Update:

As of today (11/8/05) the sign is still there and unchanged. However, there is a new addition on the back side of the sign that I frankly don't understand. It reads as follows:

"As a member of the NAACP I welcome Hammerfest 2005"

I have no idea what this means. Does anyone know what "hammerfest 2005" is? Anyone with a translation of this cryptic sentiment would be greatly appreciated.
 
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