On private property, a sign depicting Obama in a diaper: “Change me! I stink!”

posted at 4:05 pm on September 29, 2011 by Tina Korbe

OK, confession: When I saw this headline on Drudge, I actually laughed out loud. Something about the word “stink” is just funny to me. And I had no reason not to laugh because I generally agree with the sentiment the sign expresses: Obama is a master at making excuses, which does come across as a little, well, babyish. In other words, the sign doesn’t offend me.

But I also think some of the protesters (yes, people gathered to protest a sign on private property!) have a point, too. When George W. Bush was president, I frequently countered Bush bashers by pointing out the dignity that inheres in the position of the presidency and pleading with my friends to respect that. Lambasting ill-advised policies and pointing out blatant personal hypocrisies are one thing. Juvenile attacks and general poor taste are another. Not sure where the line is (and also not convinced this crosses it), but important to remember it exists somewhere.

That said, this is primarily a question of free speech. In light of the White House’s “bully problem,” it’s more important than ever that we defend this most fundamental of rights. Does sign owner Timothy Reily have the right to post a billboard-size sign on his own private property — but overlooking a public street — that portrays the president in an insulting light? The New Orleans City Council is already hard at work trying to find the exact phrase in the city’s zoning laws that will force Reily to take it down. Such zoning laws are presumably content-neutral “time, place and manner” restrictions that don’t technically abridge our freedom of speech under the Constitution. But that the City Council is so scrupulously scouring city code in response to protests of the actual content of the sign makes the city’s approach a little more dubious.

In general, I’d prefer to err on the side of more freedom, not less. In “The Virginia Report of 1799-1800, touching the alien and sedition acts,” James Madison argued that even speech that creates “a contempt, a disrepute or hatred [of the government] among the people” should be tolerated because the only way of determining whether such contempt is justified is “by a free examination [of the government’s actions” (h/t Eugene Volokh in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution). In other words, it doesn’t matter if these signs cause folks to think less of the president. Such speech is protected. Several of Reily’s neighbors recognized that fact and spoke up in support of him. “I think it’s fine. It’s on his property,” one said. “He can say whatever he wants.”


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Comment pages: 1 2

Nagin’s history. The mayor of New Orleans is now Mitch Landrieu.

There Goes The Neighborhood on September 30, 2011 at 12:28 AM

Obama is so confused by his color mix and his socialist upbringing that he may never learn to appreciate the great country that made him a “first” and gave him the greatest priviledge on earth. Really is Odumbo.

AReadyRepub on September 30, 2011 at 1:27 AM

You people have no sense of humor and take yourselves too seriously.
Hold on, isn’t CW the genius who didn’t know that McDonalds accepted federal help during the financial crisis and nearly had a breakdown on this site when as the facts came to light?

bayam on September 30, 2011 at 12:00 AM

..no bayam…you clearly have no clue as to what you are talking about and we thoroughly enjoy pointing that out.

…your lame dodge and spin concerning McDonald’s doesn’t cover over the fact that your whining about hurting Obama’s feelings falls pitifully flat in the face of all the bigotry and hate your liberal cohorts exhibited towards Bush,Cheney,and Palin.

…but don’t worry,you can bet no one takes you “seriously” anyway.

Baxter Greene on September 30, 2011 at 1:39 AM

You people have no sense of humor and take yourselves too seriously.
Hold on, isn’t CW the genius who didn’t know that McDonalds accepted federal help during the financial crisis and nearly had a breakdown on this site when as the facts came to light?

bayam on September 30, 2011 at 12:00 AM

..no bayam…you clearly have no clue as to what you are talking about and we thoroughly enjoy pointing that out.
Baxter Greene on September 30, 2011 at 1:39 AM

The image of giving a drowning man an anchor came to mind for a second, but then I realized bayam had already jumped into the deep end clutching one.

but don’t worry,you can bet no one takes you “seriously” anyway.
Baxter Greene on September 30, 2011 at 1:39 AM

Heh.
:D

whatcat on September 30, 2011 at 6:24 AM

Disgraceful… Obama I mean… of course.
-

RalphyBoy on September 30, 2011 at 10:29 AM

your lame dodge and spin concerning McDonald’s doesn’t cover over the fact that your whining about hurting Obama’s feelings falls pitifully flat in the face of all the bigotry and hate your liberal cohorts exhibited towards Bush,Cheney,and Palin.

Not to mention, Cain, Michael Steel, Michele Malkin, Justice Thomas, and the list goes on and on.

Liberals throw nasty hate toward anyone who disagrees with them, but they go to the real depths of hatred when someone is either a) a woman or b) not white and disagrees with them.

As far as humor goes, liberals have no problem laughing at conservatives, but when it is one of their own that is the subject of the joke, liberals hare absolutely no sense of humor. Conservatives tend to be able to laugh at themselves and other conservatives. Sure, it is always more fun to laugh at the opposition, but we have a much better sense of humor than liberals as a whole.

Monkeytoe on September 30, 2011 at 1:03 PM

I googled it for you.

BobMbx on September 29, 2011 at 4:55 PM

How about liberals throwing Oreos at Michael Steele? Or calling Michele Malkin a cocunut? Or making an entire movie dedicated to assassinating Bush?

What I live about the Bayams of the world is their ability to ignore facts in order to continue engaging in their belief system.

Monkeytoe on September 30, 2011 at 1:06 PM

Comment pages: 1 2