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The Progressive

'Impeach Bush' Sign = Littering?

Matthew Rothschild

Kevin Egler is a teacher in Kent, Ohio.

To say the least, he is displeased with George W. Bush and the President's performance in office.

So much so that Egler has placed more than 400 "Impeach Bush" signs around town, often on public property.

On July 25, he got a ticket for placing one of them in a public garden.

He was cited for "unlawful advertising."

Egler asked the police officer why he didn't have a right to place his sign there, but realtors can place their "For Sale" signs on public medians any time they want, the Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.

According to Egler, the officer said, "You don't know the difference?"

The officer didn't answer his own question.

But as Egler's attorney, Bob Fitrakis, points out, the answer seems obvious: Commercial speech is permitted; political speech is verboten, even though political speech is the most protected kind of speech under our Constitution.

This is discrimination on the basis of the content of speech, which is supposed to be against the law.

Egler had a court date on August 9, and he brought with him "two dozen photos of other posters that appear to have gone unchallenged by the city, including announcements of poker tournaments, garage sales, and military recruiting drives," the Plain Dealer reported.

In court, the city of Kent moved to dismiss the "unlawful advertising" charge against Egler.

But it didn't give up on its prosecution of Egler.

"I was offered a deal by the city today: Plead guilty to disorderly conduct and pay a $25 fine, or else they would file a littering charge against me," Egler reported back to friends via e-mail. "I feel I'm not guilty of anything so we took the 'or else part' of the deal."

Now instead of facing a $100 fine, Egler could have to fork over $500.

Egler appreciated the fact that fifteen free-speech and pro-impeachment activists showed up to support him.

"I had to chuckle to myself when we all filed out of the courtroom," he wrote. "The place was pretty empty after we all left."

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine.

© 2007 The Progressive

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