There is no comparable effort by elected Democrats to impose legal restrictions on the expression of right-wing views. But it is increasingly common to hear the expression of intolerant views described as violence. Liberals also have sought to exclude viewpoints they regard as offensive from forums including university campuses and social media sites, as in the recent campaign to ban Donald Trump from Twitter and Facebook.
The maintenance, or the restoration, of healthy and sustainable political discourse in the United States requires an uncompromising crackdown on anyone engaged in acts of political violence — and an uncompromising defense of political speech. It is not enough for Americans to feel safe in the public square. Democracy requires that we feel safe while shouting at each other.
This year, Ms. Dick bought a number of anti-Biden banners with messages that range from the G-rated “Don’t Blame Me, I Voted for Trump,” right on up to what Judge Bundy described as words that children are not asked to spell at spelling bees.
In the Supreme Court’s 1971 decision, Justice John Marshall Harlan II, defending the language on the anti-draft jacket, wrote that “one man’s vulgarity is another man’s lyric.”
The truth in that case, of course, is that the word was intended as a vulgarity. It’s a safe bet that Ms. Dick bought the signs because she, too, wanted to offend her neighbors.
She put up the banners in early June. Neighbors complained to the mayor, who called a code enforcement officer who cited Ms. Dick’s mother, the house’s owner, for violating an ordinance that prohibits the display of “obscene material.” The signs stayed up and the town took her to court, where Judge Bundy ordered her to remove three signs or face a fine of $250 per day.
“Today was a win for the borough and decency,” the mayor told NJ.com. “While we respect the views of our residents, there’s no place for profanity by a school and school children.”