The New York Times Editorial Board published an article Saturday in defense of a woman who was punished because the signs on her property that criticized President Joe Biden contained profanities.
Roselle Park Municipal Court Judge Gary Bundy ordered Patricia Dilascio to take down signs that she and her daughter, Andrea Dick, had put up at their New Jersey home. The signs included phrases like: “Fuck Biden and fuck you for voting for him” and “Fuck Biden, not my president.” If they do not take the signs down, they could be fined up to $250 per day.
The New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) backed the women and will represent them in court. The New York Times Editorial Board also backed them, arguing that every American has the “right to curse the president.” (RELATED: ‘Free Speech Is Not An Absolute Human Right’: Facebook Board Member Says Oversight Has To ‘Balance’ Freedom Of Speech)
Andrea Dick of Roselle Park, NJ, was ordered by a judge to remove three large ‘F*ck Biden’ banners from the outside of her fence facing the street. Her home is one block from an elementary school. pic.twitter.com/YGKmg4DjAt
— Ron Filipkowski (@RonFilipkowski) July 18, 2021
While “discomfort with vulgarity is understandable,” the editorial board argued, a judge restricting the free speech of an “outspoken conservative” is “troubling.” It is representative of a larger problem – the potential inability of the United States to honor its commitment to free speech.
“The strength of First Amendment protections depends on public support,” the editorial board wrote. “History shows that when faith in the value of free speech is eroded, the freedom is soon eroded, too.”
They argued that political polarization has led people to have little tolerance for opposing viewpoints. The board blamed “right-wing extremists” for “a rise in political violence” and claimed that anti-riot and anti-critical race theory laws are attacks on free speech that are far worse than anything liberals have done. However, they did admit that “it is increasingly common to hear the expression of intolerant views described as violence.”
“The maintenance, or the restoration, of healthy and sustainable political discourse in the United States requires an uncompromising crackdown on anyone engaged in acts of political violence — and an uncompromising defense of political speech,” the article said. “It is not enough for Americans to feel safe in the public square. Democracy requires that we feel safe while shouting at each other.”
Overall, “the boundaries of free speech must remain as expansive as possible,” the board argued.