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Take the profane signs down

From the “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should” realm of issues comes the presence of at least two political signs on private property in the city of Loyal that contain vulgar profanities to convey their message. Yes, we acknowledge, these property owners “can” display such signs, as per freedom of speech under the First Amendment, but if they are even the slightest bit concerned about their effect on the local neighborhood and the softening of divisiveness in an overheated political climate, they would not.

The signs of which we speak are legally displayed on private property in Loyal, and each contain a particular profanity that any good parent tells their children never to utter. There are two of which we know for sure, there may be more. And there may be similar ones in other local towns that we just have not seen. We’re afraid to look anymore.

The signs in Loyal, according to the local police chief, have generated no formal citizen complaints. The city has no ordinance prohibiting such signs -- no matter what they may say -- as long as they are on private property. The city does have rules stating where signs cannot be placed (i.e. street right of way) and one that says political signs should be taken down within 10 days of an election. Even that apparently clear rule is not so obvious this year, as the challenges to the presidential election have dragged the final outcome well into January.

As for the signs with profanity, why? We fully support any citizens’ right to stick a sign supporting their candidate of choice on their lawn, or to fly a flag proclaiming for all to see what side of the political fence they sit. Such signs are another form of freedom of speech guaranteed by the Constitution, and particularly this year, we were encouraged to see so many people exercising it. And, no, we don’t care who those signs supported. Each one represented the personal opinion of someone, and we laud them for taking part in the democratic process.

Those few signs, however, have no place in public view. One of them does not even support a candidate, but denigrates the other, by means of the most obnoxious of 4-letter words. It is petty and offensive, but again, allowable. In giving people the choice to express themselves in intelligent terms, we must accept the bawdy, as well.

Such signs are problematic on several counts. First, they are in full view of all, from children walking by on their way to school to motorists passing by, to out-of-towners who see them and think, “My, what kind of community is this?” Secondly while the right to free speech allows such vulgarity to be displayed, what about the public’s right to enjoy their town without seeing terms that for good reason are not allowed in schools, public setting, churches, etc. And also, if we accept such displays for political purposes, where does it end? Will we next see “---- the Vikings!” in someone’s front yard when our Packers play their rivals?

So, to the property owners who feel it necessary to display their opinions in such unelegant colloquial terms, we ask politely that you take them down. By leaving them up, you are 1.) Perhaps proving a 4-letter word is the longest in your vocabulary, or 2.) Showing that you care more about dividing a community than healing it.

You can leave them up, no one says otherwise. The decent thing to do is take them down.