Anti-Biden flags adorned with profanity flutter in Marion; city says freedom of speech trumps complaints | Local News
MARRIED ?? Pinned to a porch in an otherwise quaint neighborhood of Virginia Street is a large navy blue flag that boldly proclaims: “F — Biden and F — you for voting for him.”
Eight minutes by car is another blasphemy flag on Folgers Street with the words “F — Biden” on a flag pole outside someone’s house.
Directly below this flag is a yellow that reads “Do not step on me” and features a coiled rattlesnake. Known as the Gadsen Flag, it signifies freedom and personal freedoms. It was also brought to light during the takeover of the U.S. Capitol on January 6.
This is what William Litton, 77, saw when he drove a friend around the neighborhood recently to show him the city he has lived in all his life – and how that has changed.
Litton, a retired and widowed coal miner, said he has two adult children, nine grandchildren and 16 great-grandchildren. He said he called the town of Marion to file a complaint about the blasphemy on the signs because he doesn’t think it is appropriate to display swear words in public where children can see them, regardless of political opinions from anyone.
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“When I worked in the mines, I heard all kinds of languages and all… I didn’t mind. What bothers me is when they use that one word over there and the kids live in the neighborhood, ”Litton said.
Litton said he reported the flags to city code enforcement, but was told there was nothing they could do about it because the flags, considered free speech, are protected by the First Amendment. He said it didn’t make sense to have signs like this when the city also painted murals around the city, attracting tourists and trying to beautify itself.
“It’s not a political thing. What it is is blasphemy, publicity, and they say it’s free speech, ”Litton said.
City attorney Wendy Cunningham said in an interview with The Southern that she did not believe the city would have the right to enforce an order against the rude signs.
“There is an ordinance on the books here. This is in reference to obscene and obscene posts, which are more about things of a sexual nature that would be considered obscene… It is not an order that is intended for this type of complaint, ”Cunningham said.
Mayor Mike Absher said it was an issue with the city about a year ago, but on the other side of the political spectrum. He said they knocked on the person’s door to communicate with them about the sign, and the person went to a local media outlet to complain and the situation worsened.
Absher said the city had looked at case law regarding the First Amendment and what could be done about profane signs and said the law was not in their favor.
“But I really wish people weren’t doing this on either side of the political spectrum, or for whatever reason they’re just, honestly, I don’t get it,” Absher said.
“… There are children in these neighborhoods and it’s not that they’ve never seen, heard or read this word before, but it’s unfortunate and I just don’t think it’s a appropriate word to use (in) any context… a print in front of your house, that doesn’t make sense to me.
The South contacted the two flag owners or commented.
The owner of the flag on Folgers Street declined to give his name on a phone call, but said it was his right to fly the flag and that he was not worried about children seeing it.
“It’s my property,” he says. “If they are worried about them, then [they should] never let their kids watch TV, own a magazine, or go out, you know? “
The owner of the flag on Virginia Street could not be reached for comment for this story.
Litton said he didn’t understand why the city could make an ordinance regarding the height of grass on citizens’ lawns, but couldn’t ban profanity. He said it is not political but that he does not consider blasphemy protected by free speech.
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