The Battle of Oak Hill.

November 22, 2008

What did I tell you?  This kind of thing is popping up everywhere, sparking all sorts of debate on both sides.  In Standish, Maine, the owner of a one Oak Hill General Store had a sign out front of his store, taking bets on when people might think Obama will be assassinated.

OK, is this guy despicable?  Probably.  Is he just trying to make a quick buck?  Of course.  Does he think he’s funny?  Sure.  Now.. does he have the 1st amendment right to post such a sign on his private property?  Well, now, there’s the rub.

The Standish town councilors and Maine’s Governor John Baldacci have, predictably, condemned the action, saying that “Maine will not tolerate this type of hateful…” blah blah blah.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I think this guy is a little twisted in the head.  But the sign was on his private property.  If he had hung up a sign that said “George Bush should go get fucked”, do you think, in this current political climate, that anyone would bat an eye?  (Well, sure, the religious folks would get all flustered at the F-bomb, which is their own problem.  Those type of prudish shrews will always be with us.)

Do I think clearly racist remarks are OK?  No, personally, I don’t, meaning that I don’t philosophically agree with them.  But… I believe this guy has a right to express his clearly sick sense of humor.  Could it be seen as a threat towards the president-elect?  Perhaps.  But here we are, swimming around in all of this very gray area and, now that we have elected an African-American president, the waters are going to keep getting murkier where all of these “hate speech” and “freedom of speech” issues are concerned.

I guess the ultimate question is: at what point does speech – the utterance of syllables from the throat and mouth – become something truly harmful?  Something that can incite very real violence?  Would someone who hadn’t wanted to assassinate Obama be inspired to then do so by a sign outside of a convenience store in rural Maine with the hopes of settling some bet?  What truly inspires such criminal acts?

I realize that these are not easy questions – but they are very necessary ones.  Y’all have anything that might resemble an answer?

6 Responses to “The Battle of Oak Hill.”

  1. Mardé Says:

    Some very good questions, Minds. I just looked up the Wiki on “hate speech” and found that many countries have laws of various kinds against hate speech. But it is tricky to draw the line on what is free speech and what is speech that incites to murder or mayhem. In the Oak Hill case I doubt that someone who had not otherwise wanted to assassinate Obama would be inspired to do it by the sign. But someone who already does harbor deep resentment and hatred of Obama might indeed be encouraged by the sign and the fact that this means others hate Obama and do encourage his assassination. So, it’s pretty tricky.

  2. A reader Says:

    Well, the roster has finally crowed in the Barn of the liberals. All the hate that has been spewed over the last 8 years is now roosting in a differeent barn.
    So what is the big fuss about. There is absolutely no problem with betting if Obama bin Laden will live out his elected term. This way of doing it has caused some uproar but this is very mild compared to all the hate and venom that the conservatives had to endure each year for 8 years. NOW be honest about it. When you are on the receiving end you cry foul……not so????
    I do not condone hate speach -never have. But to bet on the possibility of an incident concerning an unusual president-elect is a “normal” concurrence. No different than betting on the score of the Army-Navy same each year, now is it? If you cannot answer that then perhaps you are not wanting to be honest….
    So even having the chance and if I were a betting person then it may be quite normal to try to predict the outcome of the next four years. Let’s also start a pool on how bad the economy will become with “The One” at the helm. As the election was getting closer to the day of decision and all the polls were predicting the same thing, the market became worse and worse. Since the election it was overall down at Wall Street and the temperature of the economy is only getting worse. There seems to be a very clear sentiment that the new Messiah will only make it worse with higher taxes promised, a promise of redistributing the wealth, higher deficts, and liberal foks selected to be on the Messiahs’ team from the clinton mess, then all business owners know what will happen to their bottom line in the next 4 years. IT WILL BE BAD for ALL of US. DO NOT invest in the stock market NOW. You will only LOSE your tush.
    What goes around will come around. Remove all the restrictions on activities banks are allowed-it is exactly like 1929. NO DIFFERENT. Glass-Steagall Act, where are you?
    God Have Mercy on America. Let’s repent.

  3. Mardé Says:

    Surely your jesting, “A reader”. Or perhaps I don’t read the far right wing-nut blogs enough, and if I did I’d find similar fantasies. I know it’s tough to be ignored now that the country has swung to the left, and to the real world. But hey, there’s always a chance for a Palin/Gingrich ticket in 2012, although I’m afraid not much of one. Thank god the adults are finally in charge now in Washington.

  4. mindserased Says:

    “A reader”, I think you missed my point entirely. Obviously you are from the waaaay far right, and that’s fine. I wasn’t taking issue, necessarily, with a hateful attack on the president elect. My post was about the boundaries of free speech, and about asking when language becomes harmful, regardless of who or what the target may be.

    And as for your claim that the hatred has now just merely changed its focus, I think you’re comparing apples and oranges. A lot of people hate Bush because he has been arguably the worst president in the history of this nation. Hating someone simply because of the color of their skin is a very different animal.

  5. Mardé Says:

    Well said, Minds.

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