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Defaced signs attempt to silence speech

Posted: October 21, 2012 - 12:01am  |  Updated: October 21, 2012 - 8:24am

While much of the country was watching the debate between the two major parties’ presidential candidates Tuesday night, a handful of dimwits were engaging in a “debate” of their own.

Columbia County deputies have arrested three people, ranging in age from 17 to 29, for spray-painting a circled “X’ on campaign signs for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

The signs are shared with those of Congressional candidate Lee Anderson, but his were left untouched as the vandals focused their inartful commentary on the presidential race.

It’s easy to assume that the three – if they’re registered to vote – plan to vote for someone other than Romney. That’s certainly their right. But the appropriate place to express their disagreement with the Republican candidate is at the ballot box.

In a free country, the remedy for speech with which you disagree is more speech. Like Romney and President Obama, you present your ideas for a ruling in the court of public opinion. You don’t resort to violence or vandalism.

Beyond calling their criminal behavior what it is, the actions of these three can be written off as youthful overexuberance, or just plain stupidity. But the statement their vandalism makes probably isn’t the one they intend.

Rather than representing opposition to ideas with which they disagree, the vandalism is a sign that the trio, and people like them, believe it’s acceptable to try to silence competing ideas without even attempting to present better ones. Taken to its extreme, such views aren’t far on the continuum from the Taliban terrorists who shot and critically wounded a 14-year-old Pakistani girl for advocating education for women.

Our country is better than that. Speech is free for all, not just for those with the loudest voice or biggest spray-can.

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Comments (6)

Riverman1

Interview Them

After hearing about them being on top of the Target building the same night, I'd like to see an interview with them to try to determine their motives.

Little Lamb

Right to remain silent

Their lawyer will surely by now have told them not to say anything to anybody.

Local Interests

Maybe They Were Paid By The Waltons

It is a bit of an election season stretch to suggest these vandals were in any way "encouraged" by the opposing political party to deface a sign.

Frankly, political sign defacing, removing, placing and other dirty tricks are common enough without having to invent intent.

CNT was pretty quick to jump on the "dirty Democrats" bandwagon. Likely that has more to do with their own Republican party.

Barry Paschal

Very much disagree, Local Interests

I very much disagree with your assessment, Local Interests. There is nothing in this editorial to suggest Democrats were in any way involved in this vandalism. The editorial says only that the vandals oppose the Republican nominee. You made the inference that it would make them Democrats, not us.

Local Interests

You Did By Giving It Legs

No, obviously the local Republican spokesperson made that claim. However, by making it a story (both news and editorial) you gave it undeserving attention. In that way your bias showed through.
This appears to be nothing more than simple vandalism by some local delinquents. My point was that this would likely not have made the paper if only Target had been vandalized. However, add a single Romney sign and this becomes a big deal with the local Republican spokesperson claiming "dirty politics" and CNT giving him plenty of attention.

Barry Paschal

We covered the arrest of three people

We covered the arrests of three people for vandalism of a business and dozens of political signs. It's an entirely legitimate story. We don't manufacture comments from sources; if you dislike or disagree with the Anderson campaign staffer's comment, take it up with him. But that wasn't referenced in this editorial, which stands entirely on its own.

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