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Exercising your right to free speech? That’ll get you a $500 fine!

firstamendment.jpgKevin Egler, who lives in Kent, Ohio, is pretty fed up with President W. So he put up a little sign which succinctly read “Impeach Bush.” However, the sign was put up on a strip of public property, which got him a $125 citation for violating a city ordinance banning advertising on public property. To my mind, I’m not sure this counts as “advertising.” But Egler is pissed because he says there are a ton of advertisements on public property which go un-cited all the time: “Everything from a lost kitten sign put on a telephone pole to military recruitment posters on poles to signs similar to mine that said ‘House for sale, this direction.’”

Bob Fitrakis, who is representing Egler pro bono, notes that this amounts to selective enforcement of the ordinance: “Military recruiters can place signs, garage sales, Realtors, but if someone doesn’t like the president you arrest them and treat them like a criminal. That’s not what the United States is about.” And so he says this is a situation where the town is trying to curb Egler’s free speech rights.

After this caught some publicity, the local prosecutor decided to drop the charge, but it’s now been implied that Egler may be re-charged with a count of littering, which would carry a fine of up to $500! When asked for comment, the city’s legal representative reportedly said:

The First Whatnow? We don’t got no amendments here. We got people who love and support America, and we got people who are anti-America. And if you’re anti-America, you’re littering our fair state, and you should pay for that.