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A victory on free speech, for now

Bloomington Herald-Times, June 28, 2000.

To the Editor:

The June 16 County Commissioners meeting saw a victory for free speech and a defeat for those who would violate the First Amendment rights of Monroe County residents for partisan political purposes. County Surveyor Kevin Enright proposed an unconstitutional, overbearing and unnecessary limitation on the size of political yard signs, which was defeated three votes to none. But it isn't over yet. County Commissioners Iris Kiesling and Brian O'Neill have stated they will re-visit this issue after the election. Our right to free speech is still in danger.

The yard sign amendment can be accurately described as "ELF with an ink pen". The Earth Liberation Front does violence to our property and our homes, but Kevin Enright, Mark Stoops, Iris Kiesling and Brian O'Neill are prepared to do violence to our Constitution in January by disregarding the First Amendment with this ordinance. Both the actions of the ELF and the plans of county government are clearly illegal.

Kevin Enright and the Democrats know the bigger yard signs work, and are therefore trying to limit them in order to take a very effective weapon away from their Republican opponents going into the fall. The only justification the Leftists in county government have offered for this ordinance is that big yard signs are not attractive, and that they represent "visual pollution". Unfortunately for them, the First Amendment does not have an exception for speech that is unattractive. In fact, the whole purpose of the First Amendment was to protect unpopular, unattractive, or "offensive" political speech.

Monroe County residents are under no obligation to obey an unconstitutional law when it is re-introduced and passed. Instead, we will take a lesson from Rosa Parks by refusing to send free speech to the back of the bus, and we will win in court.

Scott Tibbs