When Markus Eliseuson of Hayden, I0wa erected the snowman shaped like a hooded Klansman on his front lawn, neighbors who were “appalled” by the pointy-headed snowman with two dark eyes called the Sheriff. Kootenai County Sheriff’s deputies then paid him a visit. They told him that he could be charged with the crime of “creating a public nuisance” because the snowman was holding a noose. Idaho law defines such a nuisance as anything “offensive to the senses” or that interferes with the comfort of an entire neighborhood.
Eliseuson caved in, and removed the noose. Threats of an arrest and bogus charges sure chilled his free speech and free expression rights.
What’s wrong with this picture? Nigknocker sees a major problem, since the failure to enforce one’s Constitutional rights leads to an erosion of those rights for everybody. Also, although the Sheriff’s deputies probably took an oath to defend the Constitution, it helps if they understand what’s in that document, that they swore to defend, so that they do not in fact violate those very rights that they swore to protect.
So what are the Constitutional limits of free speech? In a 1969 case called Brandenburg v. Ohio (US Supreme Court), we learn that government cannot restrict or punish inflammatory speech unless it is directed to inciting and likely to incite “imminent lawless action.” Brandenburg, a leader of the KKK in Ohio, held a rally in which men in robes and hoods carrying firearms burned a cross and made speeches. which included an intent to march on Washington. A news crew filmed this “rally” and broadcast it. The film was seen on national television. The speeches for the most part were derogatory towards the Negroes and there was one reference to Jews. Excerpts of the derogatory sections are as follows: “How far is the nigger going to — yeah;” “This is what we are going to do to the niggers;” “A dirty nigger;” “Let’s give them back to the dark garden.” “Save America.” “Let’s go back to constitutional betterment.” “Bury the niggers.” “ Freedom for the whites.” “Nigger will have to fight for every inch he gets from now on.”
In a short sweet opinion http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/historics/USSC_CR_0395_0444_ZO.html , the US Supreme Court held “Freedoms of speech and press do not permit a State to forbid advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.” Since having a KKK snowman in one’s front yard holding a noose, with nothing more, does not produce or is not likely to incite imminent lawless action, it is protected speech under Brandenburg.
The next significant case R. A. V. v. City of St. Paul Minnesota (US Supreme Court 1992) ( http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/90-7675.ZO.html ) had the following facts: “After allegedly burning a cross on a black family’s lawn, petitioner R. A. V. was charged under, inter alia, the St. Paul, Minnesota, Bias Motivated Crime Ordinance, which prohibits the display of a symbol which one knows or has reason to know ‘arouses anger, alarm or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender.’” The Supreme Court held that the ordinance was facially invalid under the First Amendment to the US Constitution since the ordinance unconstitutionally prohibits speech on the basis of the subjects the speech addresses. The Court wen ton to say that a few limited categories of speech, such as obscenity, defamation, and fighting words, may be regulated because of their constitutionally proscribable content, but the government may not regulate them based on hostility, or favoritism, towards a nonproscribable message they contain.
Even the “idiot policeman,” a la Inspector Clouseau, would know that a law defining a nuisance as “anything ‘offensive to the senses’ or that interferes with the comfort of an entire neighborhood,” would apply to noxious chemicals, noise, and other “pollutants,” and not to a KKK snowman holding a noose, an expression guaranteed under the First Amendment. The right to free speech in this context is a so-called “clearly established right” so a sheriff’s deputy cannot claim immunity from a lawsuit under the “I didn’t know” pretext.
Nigknocker personally would not choose to put a KKK snowman in his front yard holding a noose, but he would defend anyone’s right to do so. Nigknocker believes that Markus Eliseuson should find a lawyer willing to take his case and sue Kootenai County, its Sheriff’s Deputies and the complaining neighbors for violating and conspiring to violate his Constitutional First Amendment rights, and stick the County and his complaining neighbors for his attorney’s fees when he wins. That’s the best way to say “Fuck You!” to those “appalled” at someone’s speech who conspire with the government to chill those rights.
So why does Nigknocker care? Irate, when faced with this site getting shut down, based on its content and expression of ideas sans advocacy of violence, had to make a decision on whether to cave in and have his speech chilled by a “politically correct” nigger-lover or come back with a vengeance. Because of Irate’s actions on this matter, free speech at irateirishman.com/blog is alive and well.
[One last thought: To the niggers and nigger-lovers who "don't lubs Irate," or the content of his site, go to a Kenyan mud hut where you don't have to be exposed to Irate's expression of his ideas! To the neighbors of Markus Eliseuson and the Iowa police who don't like his snowman, don't look there until it melts.]