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When A Noose/Lynching Is Not A ‘Hate Crime’

With all the talk of nooses in the news, I was reminded of Stephen and Virginia Pearcy, who we had occasion to mention back in August 2005.

You will remember that they are the fun couple who hanged a soldier in effigy on the front of their Sacramento house:

(And, yes, that is the flag of the “Iraqi resistance.” Another window displayed the Palestinian flag.)

As we  noted at the time, this was not the first or even the second time the Pearceys had put up such a display, but the third.

It seems some disgruntled neighbors had seen fit to pull the earlier ones down.

Here, for the record, is one of the earlier reports of their display, from Sacramento’s KCRA TV:

 

Display Stirs Controversy In Land Park

February 9, 2005

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Nestled in a quiet Sacramento neighborhood is a very loud political statement that is testing the very foundation of the right to free speech.

Hanging from a house in Land Park, a soldier’s uniform in a noose dangles from a rooftop. The words “your tax dollars at work” are scrolled across the chest.

In a community full of patriotism, this view of the war in Iraq has not gone unnoticed.

“I think it’s the ultimate sign of disrespect. We have troops dying for us,” Land Park resident Mark Cohen said.

“(I’m) annoyed and disgusted. I think if this is the way someone feels they can find a better way to vent their opinions,” Land Park resident Pete Miles said.

The homeowners behind the controversy are Steve and Virginia Pearcy. They released a statement saying, “There will always be people who are offended by political speech, and the most important forum of all … is one’s own residence. The First Amendment is meaningless unless dissent is allowed.”

Some neighbors agree.

“Even if you don’t agree with it, he has the right to state his opinion. I don’t find it offensive at all,” Land Park resident Cece Williams said.

The tension in the neighborhood has escalated into more than just a political feud.

The matter has been reported to the police department and to the city attorney. The city council has even heard about it, but says they can’t solve the problem.

“Unfortunately or fortunately this is protected speech by the First Amendment … so there is nothing we can do about it,” Sacramento City Councilman Rob Fong said.

KCRA 3 received a call late Wednesday morning from the homeowner saying that a group of people had torn down the display. He said that what he did was not illegal, but what was done by the people who removed the display was.

Of course Mr. Pearcy, who is an attorney, is probably right and this is not illegal. But why not?

As we speak the FBI, the US Attorney’s Office, the Department of Justice’s US Civil Rights Division and the New York City Hate Crimes Task Force are investigating a noose that was allegedly hung on the door of a Columbia University professor’s office.

Indeed, the sign in the back of Mr. Pearcy’s Porsche would seem to indicate that some form of hate is being expressed:

Enlarge

So what’s the difference, really?

Hate crime laws now protect groups such as blacks, homosexuals, illegal aliens, religious groups, even witches.

Shouldn’t our soldiers, who put their lives on the line to defend our country, also be a protected group?

If not, why not?

This article was posted by Steve on Saturday, October 13th, 2007. Comments are currently closed.

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