Parallels in protest and protected speech

TO THE EDITOR: 

I am very much in sympathy with the DTH columnist who, in your issue of Sept. 6, complains of the mistreatment of the Unsung Founders Memorial

I note that she is in favor of “silencing” Silent Sam, which is her privilege. But might we not agree that sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, and accordingly that the mistreatment of any campus monument, including Silent Sam, should be discountenanced? The statue seems to be cluttered with signs, sometimes affixed to the monument base or the statue itself, of which your front-page photos offer an example. 

What, it may be asked, are the First Amendment privileges of those who “protest” and deface Silent Sam with disfiguring signs? 

Some years ago, in a pious cause now forgotten, protesters littered the south edge of Lafayette Park, across Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House, maintaining that theirs was a form of protected First-Amendment expression. 

They were mistaken. After this clutter had marred the park and the northern vista of the White House and annoyed sightseers for some time, a judge ruled that they must be removed as a public nuisance. The ruling, if appealed, was sustained. 

I do not say that the two cases are alike but they are parallel. Bill of Rights privileges are always and everywhere subject to “time, place and manner” restrictions. Clutter, even when high-minded, can be a public nuisance and in manner an offense to the third restriction. Something to think about in these sanctimonious times. 

Edwin Yoder 

DTH Editor 1955-56

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