The city of South Portland Maine has a problem on their hands.

Two families have placed yellow ribbons on trees in public parks and on utility polls to commemorate their sons who were killed in Iraq.

Presumably other families have placed similar ribbons on trees and polls, both private and public, to do the same: to remember friends killed or those who are serving now in the military and are in danger.
But the Mayor of that town, which allowed such controversial conduct for four months, now says enough is enough.

South Portland Mayor Claude Morgan said the decision to bring the ribbons down is not about the community’s like or dislike for the. It’s about the rules.”The ordinances that we have today expressly forbid free speech, political speech, memorabilia, memoria on public property,” he said.

You now have it.

Free speech is forbidden on public property, so there.

Never mind that using taxpayer’s money to infringe on people’s freedom of speech. And never mind that little thing called the first Amendment.

Ironically, it is a liberal named “jm” who opposes the ribbons gets it right:

As far as I am concerned, anyone who wants to display a yellow ribbon, flag, or sign ON THEIR OWN PROPERTY is quite welcome to do so. If they insist on the right to display them on PUBLIC PROPERTY, then they should be willing to accept my right to cover public property with IMPEACH BUSH signs. Fair enough?

Well, yes.

That’s the idea. That’s what freedom of speech used to be about.

You could place “impeach Bush” on a public post, and I could place “Come to the First Baptist Church for a revival service” or “Yard Sale Saturday from 9-11” right next to it.
It’s called freedom of speech…you know, the first amendment?

Indeed, one sees many such notices against Bush on public property around  almost any US college and university.
Yet a city ordinance, a simple local law that can easily be changed by officials, is being touted by the mayor as if it were written on stone and handed down from Mt.Sinai.But from a sociological standpoint, this is class warfare. Let’s face it. It is not the rich and sophisticated who place yellow ribbons to honor their loved ones in danger…nor is this snobbery against spontaneous populist displays limited to yellow ribbons: there are similar controversies against placing a small cross at the site of a loved one’s death..

As for the ribbons, this is the second time the South Portland Maine city council has tried to stop the ribbons, the first time being in 2003.  Back then, their decision caused a “firestorm” of protest.

This time, the city council presumably will try to do it more quietly, spending tax payers money to stop free speech. You see, this time, Google News only has six measly stories on this infringement on free speech.

Well, make this post seven.

Maybe because I have lived overseas in countries where placing the wrong political poster on your wall might get your window shot out or worse, I appreciate freedom of speech.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

Be Sociable, Share!