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WHEN DOES IT BECOME RACISM

Original post made by Mellow Fellow, Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Jun 12, 2011

I live in a quiet Vintage Hills neighborhood. One of neighbors is Asian, another Hispanic, another Baptist and another a converted Biker Born Again Christian. I use Hispanic gardeners, I work with International Companies, I feel I'm living in a robust, diversified world. I want to keep to myself. Then the Biker decides to put a picture of Obama with a Nazi mustache on his lawn. I find myself offended. At the same time I realize that I am a proponent of the First Amendment of Free Speech. Yet, I swelter at his sign. Okay Pleasantonians, what am I supposed to do? I'm angry, yet I understand how the world works. I thought I was tolerant, but then maybe I'm not. I'm upset at a person making my neighborhood an unwarranted target of bigotry. OR: is this the way it is today. I am asking for feedback in a positive way. Your thoughts.

Comments (107)

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Posted by Mellow Fellow
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2011 at 10:18 pm

Obviously the title should have read: When does IT become racism.


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Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 12, 2011 at 10:19 pm


I would suggest to you that the poster is a reflection on him... not you, or your neighborhood. Don't get excited... maybe, if the biker's a renter, the landlord will handle it.

You could go to jail if you damaged or removed it. Leave it be....

unclehomerr..


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Posted by Mellow Fellow
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2011 at 10:25 pm

unclehomerr ... sage advice ... and it couldn't come from a better person ... thank you.


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Posted by unclehomerr..
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 12, 2011 at 10:30 pm


Careful, now. There are some around here who'll think I'm writing all the copy 'n comments. But, thanks. That's 2 kindnesses today.. I'm goin' to bed while I'm still ahead.

Thanks,
unclehomerr..


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Posted by A Neighbor
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 12, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Unclehomerr is right. Let it roll off you like water off a duck.

But I do understand and sympathize with your situation. I, too, would like to say I am accepting, and open, and welcoming, but two days ago I had to admit I am not. I had to admit that in my deepest, darkest, truest heart, I will never vote for a Mormon for national office.

I cannot accept their secretive nature, their cult-ish beliefs and their determined separateness. I am very much like you, Mellow Fellow, and I dislike myself for that. But is it wrong? Is it un-American? I think not.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 12, 2011 at 11:13 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Sounds like it could be another LaRouche vs. Soros smackdown. (Obama-as-Hitler is a favorite of the LaRouchies.)


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 12, 2011 at 11:28 pm

My suspicion is that those who don't think the Nazi mustache on Obama is any big deal -- just let it roll down your back -- probably are ignorant (if not perhaps even supportive) of what the mustache represents. Anyone who would put up such a message clearly is making light of what occurred in Nazi Germany to Jews and other victims. Such a person -- and today's right wing is crawling with them -- has no difficulty seeing the Affordable Health Care Act's mandate as equatable to Nazi Germany's eradication of over 6 million human beings.

As a Jew I am deeply offended by this message. I am disturbed by it and more than a little frightened. The person -- Christian you say? it figures -- might just as well drape a flag with a Nazi insignia over his front lawn. If you cannot understand my fright, I'm sorry. It is mine and mine alone, though I suspect many other members of the community partake of the same fear. Were I to see the symbol on my neighbor's front yard, I would take it as an indicator of hate speech. It is threatening and intimidating.

The Nazi mustache also acts like a veiled threat. The message is as if to say 'We can reintroduce this kind of symbolism any time we want, along with the implicit threat that comes with it.' At a time when fascism is on the rise in this country, while simultaneously so many deny that targeted groups or individuals -- African-Americans, Latinos, gays, undocumented workers, women who choose to have an abortion -- have anything to be afraid of, these kinds of vulgar symbolic displays are particularly loathsome and deserving of condemnation.

If I had the Christian biker's address, I'd gladly risk arrest to take down his sign. Short of that, I would post my own, twice as big, indicating that I have a fearful, hateful, ignorant neighbor who feels confident enough that he has enough support from segments throughout the community to post such garbage.

Hate speech is not free speech. It is not unAmerican to condemn hate speech. It is not unAmerican to attempt to eradicate hate speech wherever it raises its ugliness.


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 12, 2011 at 11:47 pm

Stacey,
I don't quite understand what point you're trying to convey. After being informed of the symbolism and offense, you equate it to a 'smackdown' between LaRouche and Soros?

Your words seem to imply that L and S are equal combatants in a ring, with each apparently capable to engaging in despicable acts. But perhaps I misjudge you; for certainly you don't mean to put George Soros in the same category as Lyndon LaRouche. Or am I perhaps wrong? Perhaps you find some things that George Soros has done to be approximate to the Christian biker in Vintage Hills?

The question I raise is a moral one, in case you hadn't noticed.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 13, 2011 at 9:09 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Night Owl,

Looks like you're out of your comfort zone; breaking laws to quash freedom of speech?

LaRouche agrees with you that America is headed towards Fascism. He believes it is already here and supported by Soros (considered by LaRouche to be a Synarchist, you know, the shadow government we're all fighting against). That's why LaRouche use the Obama-as-Hitler image. Now that he's got your attention with that image, perhaps you'd like his politics. He wrote a book on Marxist political economy.


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Posted by b
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2011 at 9:17 am

I think Jesus would've liked Obama. Although Obama's pretty conservative by Jesus' standards.


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Posted by Marie
a resident of another community
on Jun 13, 2011 at 9:22 am

I recently was confronted by a situation like this, where a person with dogmatic enthusiasm was imposing their opinions directly on my situation. There are so many conflicting actions you could take that it makes it hard to know which one to choose – anger, violence, retaliation, ignore-ance, reasoning, understanding. Just keep in mind, that if Newton was correct, than for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction – so choose wisely.

ps: But it can be very disturbing and I feel for your dilemma!


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Posted by Civil Disobedience
a resident of Dublin
on Jun 13, 2011 at 9:48 am

Stacey either avoids the moral crux of the matter or is incapable of grasping it. She attributes a (false) moral equivalency between LaRouche and Soros. Then, instead of addressing the moral issue involved with Nazi symbolism in the community, she provides a cutesy, shallow, wikipedia-like description of the nutball LaRouche. Apparently her own comfort zone is such that she has no problem with hate speech directed at others that disguises itself as free speech.

It is noteworthy that members of nontargeted groups like Stacey can be so flip about free speech. She appears not to grasp that much speech is not free. For example, one is not free to lie to the police; one is not free to provide nat'l secrets to the nation's enemies; one is not free to fraudulently present oneself in a legal transaction; one is not free to fraudulently sell your neighbor's house ... the list is actually quite long. Here, the case in point, as raised by Night Owl, the Nazi symbolism on one's front yard is an instance of hate speech. One is not free to threaten and intimidate one's neighbors. Unfortunately, there are those like unclehomer and Stacey who fail to see the moral crux of the issue. This is a common failing of members of the right, whose morals seem to extend no further than their own pocketbooks.

I'm not sure I agree with Night Owl that the Nazi mustache on Obama is, legally speaking, a clear and unambiguous instance of hate speech. Yet I sympathize regarding her sense of being intimidated by the symbolism, and I wish there were laws on the books that gave her and others greater protection against the haters and the ignorant and amoral ones who aid and abet them by offering them refuge behind use of free speech as cliche.

Like Night Owl, I would have no difficulty whatsoever taking the sign down from my neighbor's yard. I would do so in good conscience, and accept punishment for my moral act of civil disobedience.

Note, too, that Stacey, after providing her juvenile comment about LaRouche and Soros being equivalent actors in some kind of smackdown -- such is Stacey's moral sensibility I guess -- fails to address Night Owl's pointed question: What is it in her estimation that puts Lyndon LaRouche and George Soros on the same moral level? I imagine she's still scouring wikipedia entries in hopes of finding something Nazi-like that Soros has done.


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Posted by Poster Thief
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2011 at 11:14 am

I wrote this to a friend of mine some few months ago:

I drove into old town Sacramento today to buy a cigar for the drive into SF later in the day. I was immediately beset upon by an ugly little woman who shoved a poster into my hand and announced there was to be a freedom rally tomorrow at noon. Headliner on the poster was: The growth of Islam in America. Right below it: How to repeal o'bummercare. I caught up with her and handed back the 'literature' she had given me. 'Doesn't sound like a freedom rally to me at all,' I say. 'Sounds more like a suppression rally.' She responds with, 'Whatever, sir, god bless America.' 'Right', i say, 'as if god would really bless your fascist mentality and behavior'.

I buy some cigars, get back into my car, and begin to drive off. Two blocks later, there's a couple of creepy old farts in front of two card tables. On the sidewalk is a 4 ft tall poster of Obama adorned with a Hitler mustache. And the poster right next to it says: 'Impeach Hussien Obama. Stop Here.' Well, I slowed, rolled down my window and suggested that the two creeps might read a book or two. They didn't respond but just grinned back at me. Book? What's that when wikipedia tells all? I drove another block, thought twice about matters, and then drove around the block and returned to where the two creeps stood. i got out of my car, stated 'This sx#t is really too offensive', picked up the Obama poster and began to put it in my car. One of the creeps tried to stop me. i broke free of his grasp, but I think one of my fingernails might have torn his skin. As I began to drive off with the poster in tow, i see and hear the ugly little fascist women from earlier scream out, 'That's assault, somebody call the police!'

I pulled into SF later that day, having arrived a little bit earlier than I had originally intended. I can't begin to tell you how very ashamed I am at having infringed upon the creeps' right to free speech. Not.


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Posted by steve
a resident of Parkside
on Jun 13, 2011 at 11:22 am

Would you folks risk your lives taking a sign off a biker's private property if it were a picture of Bush drawn up to look like a monkey?
Where do you really stand and why? Anyone can look for things to offend them...it's all relative. There are more important things to worry about than infringing on someone's free speech, whether you think it's offensive or not.


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Posted by Evan
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Jun 13, 2011 at 11:33 am

[Portion removed] gives new meaning to 'relativism' that he so often claims Pleasanton's teachers are shoving down our kids' throats.

Let's see: A Hitler mustache on Obama or a monkey outfit on Bush. They're morally equivalent right? Everything is relative, right?

[Addressed another commenter in a disrespectful manner and was off topic]


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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 13, 2011 at 11:44 am

All Nazi signs are offensive to humanity. Their use is meant to either give them credibility or suggest that they are harmless and cute. We cannot stand by as Stacey and Steve are prepared to do and rationalize or support Nazi displays as free speech. I agree with Night Owl that such displays should be roundly condemned. I applaud Poster Thief. Today I have a new hero!


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Posted by steve
a resident of Parkside
on Jun 13, 2011 at 1:03 pm

[Addressed another commenter, not the topic]


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Posted by Brian
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Well, before you take offense at the sign, perhaps you should try to find out what statement your neighbor is trying to make. I personally don't understand the point. Is this a statement about the stance Obama has taken on the Palestinian issue?

For those of you who are unaware, Obama is taking a more impartial stance on the Palestinian issue than past presidents. This is a very bold move for a president considering how important the Jewish community is when it comes to getting re-elected.


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Posted by Evan
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Jun 13, 2011 at 2:06 pm

So, Brian, you're unable/unwilling to take a stand on the Christian biker's use of the Nazi symbolism until you know the biker's intent? That's very understanding of you. I guess on that reasoning we shouldn't take offense to, say, Adolf Eichmann's role in the holocaust until we hear what his intentions were. Brilliant.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2011 at 3:42 pm

Why are we still talking about the sign? If you big talkers who are in favor of taking it down haven't taken it down yet then I guess you really are spouting nothing. Seems that by now there should be no sign to discuss.
Freedom of speech can suck. Ask the merchants how their business is when the religious idiots spout their crap on the street corners downtown. But would you rather live in a Egypt or China? Think about that one.
I would like to live in a town where people's kids and dogs respected my property (that means keep off you morons), where cars radios and Harleys did not disrupt my peace, where my neighbor did not constantly take up every street parking space within blocks. It's called common courtesy and few people in this town have much of it. Common courtesy would prevent the reformed biker from deliberatly offending his fellow human beings. Unfortunately "common courtesy" is about as common in Pleasanton as a five legged horse.


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Posted by Pat
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 13, 2011 at 4:08 pm

"But would you rather live in a Egypt or China? "

China isn't that bad, have you been there lately? France and Germany are both great places to live that sign would be taken down by the police the day it went up in either country.


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Posted by Pleasant Gent
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 13, 2011 at 5:04 pm

"I would like to live in a town where people's kids and dogs respected my property (that means keep off you morons), where cars radios and Harleys did not disrupt my peace, where my neighbor did not constantly take up every street parking space within blocks."

You're right, resident. You just can't have everything, so why don't people just live with it?

Signed,
Anne Frank


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 13, 2011 at 7:26 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

If I don't respond to the long-winded diatribes questioning my morality, it's because such posts are more about sanctimoniousness than morality. Mellow Fellow is looking for opinions on how to deal with a real situation. It is unfortunate that a few posters hijack the thread as an opportunity to attack other posters, as if they are endowed to pass moral judgement upon others. Moral people don't do that kind of thing.


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 13, 2011 at 8:01 pm

[Post removed because it addressed only other posts and did not further the conversation.]


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Heritage Oaks
on Jun 13, 2011 at 8:24 pm

Free speech must be responsible speech, but it should not be allowed or disallowed based on whether or not you agree with the content.

Your neighbor is free to say he thinks Obama is behaving like Hitler. Of course, you are also free to express your opinion about your neighbor's behavior.

What neither of you can do is break the law.


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 13, 2011 at 8:37 pm

[Post removed because it addressed only another post and did not further the conversation]


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Posted by Pro-Law
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2011 at 8:56 pm

While I disagree 100% with the Hilter mustache, quashing freedom of speech is a slippery slope. Where does it stop and who gets to decide?


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Posted by Civil Disobedience
a resident of Dublin
on Jun 13, 2011 at 9:16 pm

As I stated earlier in the day, I'm not sure the Hitler-mustachioed Obama qualifies as hate speech in a strict legal sense. Yet, Night Owl, and probably others, express what I take to be a genuine discomfort at seeing such violence-laced pornography on someone's front lawn.

I agree with Pro-Law that limiting freedom of speech is a slippery slope. But we do have legislation against hate speech on the books; and I think we are a better society because of it. Further, we have community members expressing strong discomfort in response to the Nazi symbolics. I ask Pro-Law: What more does one need? In moral matters that affect the community, rarely is there an _objective_ measure that offers certainty. Take pornography (since I just mentioned it): There is no clinical, definitive description of it; the Supreme Court ruled the community recognizes it when it sees it.

I'm confident enough in my own moral convictions, and how they are situated in light of my readings of history and contemporary affairs, that I can, unlike Pro-Law, say not merely that I disagree 100% with the Hitler mustache but that I morally condemn it. I personally have no difficulty with what Poster Thief did. I personally would have no difficulty whatsoever in walking upon Christian biker's front lawn and removing the sign. I would have no difficulty doing it in plain sight of a law enforcement officer. Sometimes the law hasn't yet gotten it right; and sometimes acts of civil disobedience are necessary in order to get the legal establishment's attention. The moral offense of the violence-ridden sign is far greater than my own inconvenience at having to spend a night in jail.


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 13, 2011 at 9:32 pm

Boy, a tough censor tonight. I wonder how the censor thought my comments, yes definitely responding to other posters' comments -- that is what we do here -- were not furthering the conversation. I wonder if the censor, like Stacey, Steve, Brian, and other fine Pleasanton residents, believes that Nazi symbolism and those who support it does not deserve strong moral condemnation. I wonder if the censor has even bothered to think the issue through.

From many of the comments here, as well as censor's eliminative strokes, it appears that the reality of placing a Hitler mustache on our sitting president -- an act that has stirred consternation among some of the community's members -- isn't one that elicits much cause for concern. No surprise here.


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 13, 2011 at 9:42 pm

@ Civil Disobedience, who stated "The moral offense of the violence-ridden sign is far greater than my own inconvenience at having to spend a night in jail."

Couldn't have said it any better. Thank you.


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Posted by Earnest
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 13, 2011 at 10:05 pm

Stacey says "Moral people don't do that kind of thing" by which she means people shouldn't be able to pass moral judgment on other people on moral grounds. Since I'm unable to fathom how any morally informed reasoning could lead one to conclude such a thing, and since I'm always desiring to be educated, I'd really love to hear what kind of 'moral reasoning' informs her view on this matter.


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Posted by Pat
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2011 at 10:16 pm

Earnest,

I agree that what Stacey said above was offensive. A simple apology from her would be enough for me.

Of course there is nothing immoral about passing moral judgement on a person like Hitler. He was an evil man who did evil things. Using Nazi images on a sign like that crosses a line for me.


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Posted by Rage is building
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2011 at 10:51 pm

Free speech has been allowed for most of 200 yrs. it has only recently started to disappeared.
Today, a black host on KGO was discussing for an hour, the Oakland blacks protesting today about Messerle's sentence. A caller pretty much made the case, the protest was not about Grant being shot, it was about a BLACK being shot by a WHITE, and that there would NOT be protests about a black being shot.... IF the cop was BLACK !! How RACIST is that ! But, it's OK for blacks to discriminate against whites. ??? go figure ! Cal gives free ride scholarships to blacks, and a white male is lucky IF he can get a loan....all in violation of prop 209...which was suppose to quarantee equal treatment, NO preferences...but that discrimination happens daily. SPECIAL treatment for the 'underpriviledged' that way they can dishonestly pretend it's not about race. wink, wink. In these days of NO JOBS, some white males are getting tired of getting stepped on. The rage is real, so the future of the races is being made worse by the academics, as unual..


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 13, 2011 at 11:05 pm

Where does one even begin? I'm afraid the boat was missed many, many years ago. Still....

So, @Rage is building, I take it you don't support laws against hate speech? Why not?

I feel your own pain -- it is indeed palpable. But are you entirely incapable of registering any recognition of how some of our community's members have suffered far greater discrimination than you ever have, and have suffered fear and intimidation from their 'good neighbors' far more than you have?

Your own pain seems linked to an unfortunate lack of education. An inability to write clearly or coherently, as you evidence in your above post, is probably more the source of your pain than is any dominant, majority group's violent discrimination against you because of your creed, ethnicity, or the color of your skin. Or, in other words, if you have had employers or educational institutions discriminate against you, it is likely based upon your unfortunate lack of skills and competencies -- things you have/had control over -- and not things that people have no control over, such as skin color, sexual orientation, or, as in my case, that I was born of Jewish parents.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 13, 2011 at 11:07 pm

How can the opinion that a political leader is acting in an unacceptable manner be called hate speech?

I may not agree with the criticism, but the freedom to criticize is basic, especially the freedom to criticize our elected leaders.






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Posted by Rage is building
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 13, 2011 at 11:20 pm

I'M READY for bed, and this is a blog of sorts for 22 people !! I'm not writing my Doctoral Dissertation ! I skimmed much of the comments, while listening again,NOW, to KGO discussing the Oakland situation. And, yes I would definitely side with YOU. You have historically, tragically been truly discriminated against.
I am sorry for drifting off course. Usually that happens TO me on this site. I'm sick of the hypocrisy about racism....many lack the ability to be objective,...thinking racism is a 1 way issue.
I am SO sick of Cal's social engineering, in violation of prop 209, which calls for equal treatment....Cal dumps on white males....I am NOT one.


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 13, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Oh, Mike, you really do fail to see the moral nut inside the shell. This is not a matter of criticizing Obama, who is fair game as a politician. This is a matter of someone inflicting symbolic violence upon the community by resort to hate-filled Nazi imagery.

Now, clearly, such imagery does not offend your own moral sensibilities. The question is, does it not matter that use of such imagery stirs fear and intimidation (not to mention moral revulsion) among some members of your community? That question is at the nub of laws we have on the books against hate speech.

Let me ask you. What if Mr. Nazi Christian bike rider placed a sign on his lawn that recommended the forceful deportation of Jews? Would you be okay with that? Still freedom to criticize?

How about this one. Mr. Nazi Christian bike rider stands on his front lawn and shouts out to his Jewish neighbor, "You're vermin, Hitler was right, and we're going to do everything we can to exterminate you and your children!" Still okay with that?

How about this one. Mr. Nazi Christain puts up a video screen on his front lawn and, on a 24-7 basis, re-plays footage of Nazis forcing lines of Jews into gas chambers. Still okay?

How about if your neighbor stands out on his front lawn, wildly waves a gun in the air, calls out your name and states that one of these days he's going to kill you and your family. Still okay? Free speech, right?

For some of us, memory cannot be washed so easily away. Nazi swastikas and Hitler mustaches are no less vividly violent than is the neighbor waving his gun and hurling threats. Perhaps this doesn't bother you.... But one has to wonder then what _would_ bother you, aside that is from a proposed tax hike.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 14, 2011 at 12:00 am

Night Owl,

I agree completely that the examples you give would be highly unacceptable, indeed criminal behavior; however, none of them relates to the criticism of a political leader.

It's not the symbol. It's what you do with it. The poster guy is saying that he thinks Obama is acting like Hitler.

He's not calling for the forceful deportation of any individual or group.

He is not standing on his front lawn and shouting out to his neighbor, "You're vermin, so-and-so was right, and we're going to do everything we can to exterminate you and your children!"

He is not putting up a video screen on his front lawn and, on a 24-7 basis, re-playing footage of one group forcing others in or out of anyplace.

He is not standing out on his front lawn, wildly waving a gun in the air, calling out anyone's name and stating that one of these days he's going to kill them and their family.

When he does, then he should be censored, arrested, humiliated, whatever. But he shouldn't be censored, arrested, humiliated or whatever for saying that he disagrees with a political leader's policies.


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Posted by Andy
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 14, 2011 at 12:38 am

Just a couple quotes I just looked up!

A man is called selfish not for pursuing his own good, but for neglecting his neighbor's.
Richard Whately

A man prone to suspect evil is mostly looking in his neighbor for what he sees in himself.
Augustus Hare


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 14, 2011 at 12:58 am

Mike,

Mike, you say "It's not the symbol. It's what you do with it." You are very wrong. No matter what you choose personally to do with it, the confederate flag remains the symbol of the South's secession and perpetuation of slavery over hundreds of years. You can personally deny that all you want to. But you are being either unwittingly or willfully ignorant of what that flag meant for those who fought under its banner and those who fought against it.

Here, we're talking about Nazi symbols being used in our community. To ignore/deny this, either intentionally or unintentionally, is to ignore/deny what those symbols represented to those who suffered under them and those who lost their lives opposing them.

Perhaps you are too young and/or ill-educated to acknowledge what occurred in Nazi Germany. You should maybe attempt to remedy that.

But you continue to miss the point that so many have alluded to here -- i.e., that words do hurt, symbols do hurt, and they can do so in violent ways. Do you miss the point willfully? I don't know.

When one disagrees with a politician's policies he or she is free to voice disagreement. When one trots out Nazi symbolism, then we're in an entirely different ball park. "Oh, who me? I was only trying to show my criticism of Obama?" Tell a racist joke: "Who me? I was only trying to be funny." Make fun of disabled people? "Who me? I was just letting others know how healthy most of us are!" No, Mike, your defense of the Nazi Christian biker is not compelling, at all.


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 14, 2011 at 1:11 am

Mike,

It also has occurred to me that your professed ignorance is nothing but a spoof. But I guess I'm too Jewish to not take your words seriously.

I also take note that your several comments have seemed to willfully dismiss my own sense of unease and intimidation in the face of the appearance and use and defense of an obvious symbol of Nazi atrocities toward a race of people. Trust me when I say I genuinely hope neither you nor your family members will ever have to experience what my family did, or feel the fears that my family has felt, or suffer as my family has the ongoing memory of what a people is capable of doing to another people.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 14, 2011 at 7:53 am

Night Owl,

Poster guy doesn't like Obama. How much further can we read into this? We may be uncomfortable with the way he expresses it, but I don't feel he is directing the threat of renewed nazi atrocities toward us. He is clearly directing the threat of social shame and condemnation toward Obama for what he feels is atrocious behavior.

It is in this context that I say it's not the symbol, but what you do with it.

By the way, I am neither young nor ill-educated; and I would appreciate it if you would refrain from using what amounts to hate speech on this forum. It is hurtful and inconsiderate.


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Posted by steve
a resident of Parkside
on Jun 14, 2011 at 9:06 am

Interesting back and forth, but nothing has been resolved or changed. Unless a certain nocturnal bird with a major chip on his shoulder has removed the sign, the symbol remains as an example of free speech and private property rights. Your choices seem to be, either rise above the symbol and ignore it, remove it, knowing the risk involved, or you could actually speak with the biker who felt compelled to post the sign. Imagine what you'd learn...you might even find out you really don't know it all.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 14, 2011 at 9:31 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Steve,

Let's wait and see if Mellow Fellow posts a follow-up. I wonder if he went and talked to his neighbor about the sign and what came of it.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 14, 2011 at 9:41 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Mellow Fellow,

BTW, the Pleasanton Municipal Code has some section under Zoning on signs. There might be something in there related to your neighbor's sign.


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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 14, 2011 at 9:52 am

I am saddened that Mike and Steve and Brian and Stacey don't seem able to wrap their heads around the issue, which is so fundamental to who we are. This tells me we have a long way to go.


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Posted by Harvey
a resident of Beratlis Place
on Jun 14, 2011 at 10:29 am

You may as well face the truth, Ruth. Those you mention and so many others are unwilling to denounce the violent and hateful graffiti because they support it and want it to continue.


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2011 at 10:32 am

I'll ask again -- with all of you big talking chest thumping folks out there who would have no problem taking down that sign -- why is the sign still up?
Night Owl you apparently see every little action in life as a direct assault on Jews. Get over it. The sign is hugely distasteful but not illegal. Post your own sign and move on with life. I supposedly have some Native Americans somewhere in my past history. If I were to behave as Night Owl I would see everything in life as a threat or insult to my ancestors. This is not all about Jews any more than it is all about Native Americans or people of color. It is a dumb neighbor, with no class, doing something for which he is obviously not bright enough to feel embarrased.
Night Owl, get off of your soapbox.


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Posted by Pat
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2011 at 10:38 am

Steve,

Would it be OK with you if he burned an American flag every day on his front lawn and posted a video of it on the Internet as a way of protesting against American men and women in uniform? Would that be protected free speech too?


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Posted by Dan
a resident of Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks
on Jun 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm

I have a feeling zoning regulations do not allow such posters on people's lawns indefinitely. I would contact the city. I definitely wouldn't want any sort of ugly poster, no matter what it depicts, blighting my neighborhood. I pay too much in property taxes.


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2011 at 12:24 pm

Julie is a registered user.

Mellow Fellow, sorry for your predicament. I didn't read through the posts, so sorry if this was addressed.

I wouldn't want to stare at a photo of Obama made to look like Hitler any more than I would enjoy staring at a broken down boat in someone's driveway. Is there a HOA route you can take? I don't mean to diminish the gravity of what you are discussing, just looking for a "loop hole".

Free speech is a tricky thing - so necessary and yet how far do we take it? What if below that photo he had written N---er instead of using the mustache? Would that be considered worse than the Nazi image? Why or why not?


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Julie is a registered user.

Haha...just saw your post, Dan. We think alike. I wouldn't want ANY posters staring back at me.


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Posted by Leland
a resident of Happy Valley
on Jun 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm

Yeah, me too Julie and Dan. Obama poster, Obama with Hitler mustache, Obama with N____ under his name. They're all the same to me. I couldn't care less about someone else's so-called moral problem. If they're intimidated by their neighbors they should think about moving away from the neighborhood or maybe even back to wherever they came from. This is strictly a property issue, and I want to protect MY property.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 14, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Ruth and Harvey:

Violence and hate are unacceptable; however, as a criticism of a political leader, the poster is neither. It is directed at perceived behavior and policies, not his or any group's race, religion, sexual orientation, or food preference.

It's about the poster guy's opinion of Obama, and I feel it is a mistake to extend the reference and conclude that it is a swipe at anything or anyone else.





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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 14, 2011 at 4:40 pm

Like I said, Mike, your defense of the symbolic violence conveyed by the Hitler mustache leaves me saddened.

Well, with your defense, we're not talking about the Christian biker any more. Rather, we're talking about you.

So, what is it exactly that Obama has done, do you think, that warrants painting him with Hitlerian mustache? Is there anything even imaginably comparable in Obama's policies vis-a-vis Hitler's? No, of course not, as no rational person could make such a claim. Then why do you defend the use of Hitler's mustache? Is it that you 'get off' on using a universal symbol of violence to offend others? To intimidate others? To reinvoke some kind of legitimacy re. Nazi symbolism as common currency in our culture? Or is it a matter of pure ignorance and spite?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 14, 2011 at 5:46 pm

Ruth:

"So, what is it exactly that Obama has done, do you think, that warrants painting him with Hitlerian mustache? Is there anything even imaginably comparable in Obama's policies vis-a-vis Hitler's?"

What you or I think Obama has or has not done has nothing to do with the issue. It's what the poster guy thinks. After all, it's his criticism.

Please understand that I am not defending the content or vehicle of poster guy's expression. I am defending his right to criticize.

Poster guy thinks Obama acting like a nazi. Why does he think this way? I do not know.

I am inspired to hang a poster of Joe McCarthy on this particular thread. My reason for doing so would be to express the idea that false attribution is scary.


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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 14, 2011 at 8:59 pm

Mike says

"Poster guy thinks Obama acting like a nazi. Why does he think this way? I do not know."

But Mike defends him anyway, but refuses to own up to his defense. _Of course_ Mike doesn't know why biker puts up the sign; for there is no plausible defense of the Christian biker other than that he gets off on using violent Nazi symbolism.

Well, Mike, it's certainly your right to defend him and all other Nazi sloganeers as well as the hate and violence that is at the core of their being. Not only is it your right to defend them, but it is your right to hold the views they do as well. Your consipicuous unwillingness to condemn, on any level, suggests that you hold similar views to the Nazi Christian biker. Yet you are reticent to own up to them. That's okay, Mike. It's your right to embrace Nazi views; and its your right to defend them however irrational your defense may be. It is my right to express my fear of you and others like you.


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Posted by Pat
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2011 at 10:03 pm

Steve,

Care to answer my question about burning the American flag? Otherwise, I'll have to assume you're OK with that. It is just a freedom of speech issue.


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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 14, 2011 at 10:50 pm

A few years ago, the Senate passed a non-binding resolution which condemned lynching. 20 Senators -- 19 GOP, 1 DEM -- willfully chose not to sign the resolution. Of course, the matter was/is now largely a symbolic one, as lynching isn't nearly as prominent today as border militia patrolling and the like. My point is that Steve,Mike, Stacey, Brian, and the Christian Nazi biker are not alone in their unwillingness to condemn symbolic violence; they have friends in the Senate as well, which just goes to show how widespread and enduring is citizen ignorance and hate.

Here are the 20 Senators who 1) refused to co-sponsor the anti-lynching resolution, and 2) refused a roll-call vote so they'd have to put their name on the resolution.
Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
Robert Bennett (R-UT)
Christopher Bond (R-MO)
Jim Bunning (R-KY)
Conrad Burns (R-MT)
Saxby Chambliss (R-GA)
Thad Cochran (R-MS)
Kent Conrad (D-ND)
John Cornyn (R-TX)
Michael Crapo (R-ID)
Michael Enzi (R-WY)
Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
Judd Gregg (R-NH)
Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
Trent Lott (R-MS)
Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)
Richard Shelby (R-AL)
John Sununu (R-NH)
Craig Thomas (R-WY)
George Voinovich (R-OH)

I guess these Senators must have had a pretty good idea of who their constituents are and the extent of racial prejudice that informs their views.


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Posted by Pat
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 14, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Mike,

Would you say the same thing about burning the American flag? It is only a criticism of the Marxist direction the country is taking. Is that protected speech?


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 15, 2011 at 12:45 am

Pat,

I would with absolute certainty, and I'm sure you would as well. Again, it's not whether you agree or disagree with the point of view. The right to criticize is essential to a free state. If you silence those who disagree with you, then you create a very oppressive society, indeed.

The above does not, however, include an endorsement of illegal activity.


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 15, 2011 at 1:19 am

Pat,

I don't think the analogy of Hitlerian mustache to burning American flag is an especially good one. American flag burners have not used the act to spread fear and intimidation among targeted populations of people. Those who use Hitlerian symbols do it in order to spread fear and intimidation; they know the symbols they use invoke horror in the minds of their targeted victims; and, like the Nazis, they get off on it.

Then there are the phoney patriots, those who hide behind 'freedom of speech' as a means of disguising their own Nazi-like beliefs. I have no doubt that several of the posters here are tickled pink by Nazi Christian bike rider's assignation of hate imagery to our president. They argue, quite ineffectually, that Nazi biker is free to criticize the president, but are unable to provide even a scintilla of evidence or reasoned thought as to how the Nazi imagery could actually figure into any kind of criticism whatsoever. They are unable to do so because Nazi biker is not about criticizing the president; rather he's getting off on spreading horror and revulsion because he's confident he lives in a society which allows him to get off on hurting people.

Then, another hypocritical aspect of the defenders/supporters of Nazi biker is when they suggest, 'hey, what he's doing isn't illegal, so all the more power to him'. Which is to say that any expressive acts that are not illegal must be okay with them, no matter how deeply they might hurt or terrorize members of their community. Who am I to morally judge others, state Stacey, Steve, and Mike. Decent people don't morally judge others, they declare. Well, with remarks like these, it's apparent to me that we are faced with a bevy of posters who have lost their moral compass, assuming that they had one to begin with.

It might be worth noting, though it is obvious enough, that these same defenders/supporters of displays of Naziism in the community are attempting to insinuate themselves into our children's educational lives. Not at all a happy thought.


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Posted by Janice
a resident of Dublin
on Jun 15, 2011 at 1:27 am

It's typical Republican behavior. It's okay to pick on others by calling them Nazis, but if anyone even comes close to criticizing them, out comes the 'hey, stop calling me names!' (you know who) or let's hit the censorship button and report this one as being objectionable because it is so disrespectful of me and my views (you know who). The hypocrisy is almost too much to stomach.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 15, 2011 at 3:50 am

Night Owl,

"They argue that Nazi biker is free to criticize the president, but are unable to provide even a scintilla of evidence or reasoned thought as to how the Nazi imagery could actually figure into any kind of criticism whatsoever."

I am under no obligation to explain or defend the poster guy's opinion. My defense of poster guy's right to criticize a political leader should not be taken as an endorsement of his opinion, only his right to express it.

The chance that you, I or anyone else will be offended by it is the price we pay to live in a society that protects us against those who would would persecute us for our opinions. With such despots as Hitler, McCarthy, Pol Pot, and Idi Amin in our collective history, I am grateful for the right to think and speak without fear, and it scares me that you and others on this board feel that it's OK to deprive people of that right simply because you don't like what they are saying. We hate Hitler because he killed people for who they were and what they said.

I don't fear poster guy. I fear you.








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Posted by steve
a resident of Parkside
on Jun 15, 2011 at 8:52 am

Well said, Mike. OK, night owl and Pat---go ahead and burn the flag (a symbolic way of stating you want the country destroyed) and condemn mustaches drawn on political posters (a picture of the guy who is dismantling the country)--it's you right. Enough hand-wringing and condescention from you guys....time to move on.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 15, 2011 at 9:06 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Mike,
Time to move on. The posters you are responding to have already shown that they have little interest in helping Mellow Fellow with his LaRouchie neighbor issue and it seems like Mellow Fellow has already been given adequate advice by others. There's no need to defend yourself.


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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 15, 2011 at 9:36 am

Yes Yes Yes let's please change the subject. People are urging that we condemn use of Nazi symbolism on moral grounds. I mean, how scary is that?

John Stuart Mill, the great theorist of political liberty, argued that a free society should not restrict a drunken idiot's right to spew verbal rubbish; but he then went on to argue that a free society should place no restrictions on members morally condemning the drunken idiot. His assumption, indeed, is that that is what happens in a moral society: we use morally condemnable acts as an educational moment for us all by commenting on it and working ourselves clear on why the speech needs to be morally condemned. Here Harvey from Beritis has is right: it is pretty obvious that they "are unwilling to denounce the violent and hateful graffiti because they support it and want it to continue."


Here we have Christian Nazi guy spewing verbal rubbish that anyone with a sense of historical perspective and human decency knows is violent and hurtful to some. Steve, Mike, and Stacey, however, can't bring themselves to condemn the act on moral grounds. Search as they might, they just can't seem to find that moral core of decency within themselves. What would it cost them to condemn the Christian Nazi guy? Apparently, for them, quite a bit. Why? No developed inner moral sensibility.

Instead, they urge us all to move on. Stacey calls the Nazi biker's violent and hurtful symbolism 'mellow fellow's problem', and so indicates clearly her own failing: an inability to recognize why _others_ in the community might be deeply offended by the symbolism; and an inability to recognize how she should be offended as well.

Night Owl has it right: "It might be worth noting, though it is obvious enough, that these same defenders/supporters of displays of Naziism in the community are attempting to insinuate themselves into our children's educational lives." What a happy thought!


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 15, 2011 at 12:28 pm

Here we go again with Night Owl playing the ever-persecuted person whereas none of the rest of us has ever had to deal with it.
NO states: "they suggest, 'hey, what he's doing isn't illegal, so all the more power to him'". What a crock! Who, specifically, has said "more power to him"? In your rant to prove that everything in life is really a direct assault on Jews you make statements that are completely false. To do what? Support your views? Many of us have said that although we DO NOT approve of what he says, and we DO NOT think it is OK to do that, we support ONLY his right of free speech. As distasteful as that is in this case.
No moral compasses? Just because we disapprove without taking illegal physical action to silence him we are not without moral compasses. If you wish to show your own moral compass then make a sign and carry it in front of his house. Identify yourself and stand up for your views. Oh yeah, that would make you a target of reprisal against Jews again. Well, you know, ANYONE who walked in front of that moral derelict's house would be a target, not just you.
Again from NO -- "It might be worth noting, though it is obvious enough, that these same defenders/supporters of displays of Naziism in the community are attempting to insinuate themselves into our children's educational lives." Where did that come from? You make stuff up, you spout it as truth and wisdom and you hide behind your "the whole world has targeted only Jews" rhetoric. If you feel so persecuted in this country, where free speech is allowed and protected, perhaps you would be more at home in Israel. No one ever gets targeted there. Oh, unless they are not Jewish. But in your view of the world that's all right.


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Posted by Another Jew
a resident of Beratlis Place
on Jun 15, 2011 at 12:51 pm

@ "If you feel so persecuted in this country, where free speech is allowed and protected, perhaps you would be more at home in Israel. No one ever gets targeted there. Oh, unless they are not Jewish. But in your view of the world that's all right."

I am deeply offended by this post. Its a combination of ignorance and hate. Some of the posters here show clearly they have real issues with their own prejudices. Not the Pleasanton I thought I lived in.


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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 15, 2011 at 1:35 pm

I give "resident" some credit for at least condemning (sort of) the Nazi Christian biker. That's at least better than Stacey, Steve, Brian, Mike and the rest of the mob has been able to do. Ah, but "resident" gives and then takes away, as he cannot prevent his true feelings from oozing out all over the place and disgusting so many of us. Yet another educative moment....


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 15, 2011 at 2:19 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

resident,

I disagree with you that the interests of the person you are responding to has anything to do with being Jewish. These posters do not care about who is or isn't Jewish nor do they care about Mellow Fellow's worry about living next to a neighbor setting his neighborhood up as a target for bigotry. It's all about a political one-ups-man-ship game called "sanctimoniousness". If you can give the appearance of being morally superior to those with whom you disagree, you can fool some people into thinking that your arguments have merit where none actually exists. Professional politicians do this all the time; condemning others for apparent moral transgressions and then later being revealed to never having been qualified to pass moral judgements in the first place! We should call out sanctimoniousness when we see it and then move on. Mellow Fellow has received positive feedback from other posters so the thread has reached it's logical conclusion.


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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 15, 2011 at 2:53 pm

Nice try, Stacey. For someone who insists that the discussion should end, you sure do continue to contribute your fair share to its prolongation.

I'm not a politician. And I don't have a lot to say about most issues. You impose a judgment upon me and others as being 'sanctimonious', but you can't bring yourself to morally condemn the Nazi Christian biker's sick and violent use of symbolism?

What in the world is wrong with you? You have demonstrated on this thread time and again not only an inability to be consistent - you pass judgment on others, but others shouldn't pass judgment on Nazi biker's sickness - but an inability to grasp what it is to be a moral being.

Forming a moral judgment is not reducible to politics as you suggest it is. Forming a moral judgment is something that reflective human beings do all the time. It is a very important part of being human. It is what individuals do in a moral society. Sometimes moral judgments can be politically motivated and produce political effects, but sometimes not.

It's all politics to you, evidently. Well, from what I've read of your politics, there isn't much room for or consideration of who we are as moral creatures on this earth. You, along with Steve, Brian, Mike and who knows who else, seem not to grasp that Nazi biker's violent symbolism affects all of us - Jews and Gentiles and all others as well. With your refusal to condemn the symbolism and its violence, you lose out on what it means to be a thoughtful human being.

Thanks, by the way, for reducing my pain and revulsion to a fit of sanctimoniousness. Seems you don't like Jews very much. Well, I'm part of your community whether you, Nazi biker, and the rest of your cronies like it or not. When I see violent symbolism that deeply offends me, as both Jew and as human being, I'll continue to condemn it in the strongest terms I can.


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Posted by Count Me
a resident of Sycamore Heights
on Jun 15, 2011 at 3:58 pm

I am not Jewish. But like Ruch i'm appalled by so many messages here. They are shameful. OUr society isn't where we need to be in the 21st century.


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 16, 2011 at 12:59 am

I agree with Ruth. The silence from so many of the contributors here has been deafening. Quick to criticize a teacher for belonging to a union or making too high of a salary. But someone putting Nazi filth on their lawn? No problem whatsoever. Let's not be judgmental, they say. Live and let live. Freedom of speech, after all. Heaven forbid any of us might be so sanctimonious as to criticize Nazi symbolics in the community. Ho-hum, it's just another political form of expression. Doesn't bother ME any. You're Jewish? Oh, stop being so sanctimonious! This isn't about you! It's about ol' mellow fellow who is having trouble with a bit of crabgrass in his yard. Good people, which excludes people like Ruth, Harvey and myself ... wink-wink, don't judge others.

Reading so many of these contributors, I feel like I've just spent a couple of evenings in a bad movie that is set in a hostile foreign land back in the 30's.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 16, 2011 at 5:47 am

Night Owl,

Please reread your posts.

You fear the symbolism, but you seem very comfortable with the techniques they used to demonize their targets.

The enemy is not free speech. It's intolerance.

Poster Guy is not espousing Nazism. He's warning against it!

You are not warning against it. You are practicing it!




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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 16, 2011 at 8:49 am

Stacey is a registered user.

And there it is again, the purposeful misrepresentation of others. It's called calumny. Which morality engages in calumny against neighbors/community members?

Calumny and sanctimoniousness are difficult methods to use to convince others of the merits of a position. Discussing the freedom of speech, when it applies and when it can be restricted, the meanings behind symbols and the political players involved in pushing those symbols, and helping a neighbor by providing positive feedback when asked surely are subjects worthy of receiving better argumentative handling!


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Posted by steve
a resident of Parkside
on Jun 16, 2011 at 9:22 am

Ruth-"an inability to recognize why _others_ in the community might be deeply offended by the symbolism; and an inability to recognize how she should be offended as well."
Ruth, go ahead and be offended--it's your right (until someone takes that away from you----you see, that slippery slope works both ways).

"Seems you don't like Jews very much" Not true....I have a few Jewish friends, who happen to not display a huge persecution complex like you do. I can't imagine being friends with them for long if they had such a paranoid view of life and those in their community. I feel sad for you, looking to continually be the victim. Ignore the sign and live your life and be glad you're an American .


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Posted by Ernesto
a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 16, 2011 at 10:06 am

I agree.... Some of my best friends are Jews. My daughter almost married a Jew, and I was okay with it except for the sanctimonious whining all the time.

Now, along with Stacey, Mike, Steve and Brian, I refuse to condemn the Christian Nazi biker's use of violent symbolism that pains and offends, but, boy, have you noticed the sanctimonious calumners in our midst? That's why so many people remained quiet in Germnay, didn't you know. After all, speaking out against hate speech of those in power would have been calumnous.

I'd write more, but Christian Nazi biker and me are off to a pro-Israel rally sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League.


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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 16, 2011 at 10:59 am

Stacey says, "Which morality engages in calumny against neighbors/community members?"

I didn't realize we were talking about morality like it was a wikipedia entry, Stacey.

Morality - genuine morality - is something that comes from within oneself. You appear unable to grasp this very basic idea. This may be why you find yourself unwilling/unable to condemn Christian Nazi biker's behavior. This isn't about some abstract moral system that you can find as a wikipedia entry, Stacey. This involves your own heart and intellect.

What would it cost you, as a member of this community, to condemn Christian Nazi biker's repugnant use of Nazi imagery? Apparently, way too much. You've been adament in your refusal to denunciate Christian Nazi's use of violent, hurtful imagery.

Instead, you've twisted it by insisting this is a matter of mellow fellow having a crabgrass problem (not YOUR problem). You've stated that good people shouldn't morally judge others - this alongside your judgment that some of the Jewish contributors and others here are being 'sanctimonious'. You've reduced it to a matter of freedom of speech - as if to suggest that anything guaranteed as freedom of speech is thereby exempt from moral condemnation. And now you've trotted out the absurdist charge of calumny.

Each time your argument is shown by others to be lacking, you fall back on some other rationalization for what is, clear to most of us I think, the fact that your own moral compass is lacking. Either you're unable to grasp how Christian Nazi biker's symbolics can be painful to some (and, hence, should be painful to all) ... or, you support Christian Nazi biker's antics but haven't the courage to state such. Possibly both. Sad, in any event. Truly.

Mike and Steve? I'll let your own words speak for themselves. Such ignorance does not merit any kind of rebuttal.


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Posted by Observer
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 16, 2011 at 8:21 pm

I see many similarities between the two individuals, it certianly doesn't take a mustasche to make it clear to me.


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Posted by Sandrina
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 16, 2011 at 9:10 pm

Dear Observer, Your meds in the upper left hand drawer.


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Posted by Pat
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 16, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Thank you Steve. I'm glad to see that you are defender of people's right to burn the American flag. And to think that some free speech hating nuts actually wanted to amend the US constitution to ban flag burning.

Web Link


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 16, 2011 at 9:42 pm

Ruth:

Of what am I ignorant?




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Posted by steve
a resident of Parkside
on Jun 16, 2011 at 10:38 pm

Here's something Ruth and ernesto should focus their outrage on: Web Link

Union thugs comparing Gov. Christie to Adolf Hitler.......this ought to give you both a reason to keep wringing your hands.


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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 16, 2011 at 10:56 pm

What ol' dishonest Steve chose to leave out from the newspaper clip is that the union leader, after being roundly condemned by his colleagues and constituents, almost immediately issued an apology for his inappropriate speech. That's what occurs in a moral society: people have the freedom to state hurtful things, but good people let them know that, despite their freedom of speech, good people find it to be morally indefensible. I guess you'd have to have a minimally well-developed moral sensibility to grasp this point.

Here's the union guy's apology:

"But however angry we are, we must be responsible in our actions and our speech, and my comments today were inappropriate and unacceptable. I apologize to the Governor and to anyone else I may have offended."

I guess union members in New Jersey, unlike so many of the folks in Pleasanton, can recognize morally unacceptable speech and have the moral solidity to step forward to condemn it. In Pleasanton, we have the likes of Steve and Stacey and Mike appearing to be either completely clueless as to the morally unacceptable nature of using Nazi symbolism, or they are implicitly endorsing it. (And despite people requesting that they apologize, I doubt we'll ever see that from the likes of these characters.) Either way, they come up serously short on the universal morality scale.

Good job Steve. And try not to learn anything from fellow/sister posters.


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Posted by Ernesto
a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 16, 2011 at 11:04 pm

I guess the union thug has more decency than many of the posters here. Who could have guessed that?


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 16, 2011 at 11:27 pm



People are free to tell N___ jokes, but most decent people don't. Indeed, most decent people will tell the joke teller that they find the joke to be offensive. Stacey and the rest of the dwarves seem to have missed that somewhere in their family upbringing.

People are free to tell G____ jokes, but most decent people don't. We have the freedom to do so, but we also have the freedom to condemn the joke and the joke teller by telling him/her that we find the joke offensive. So doing is the right thing to do.

Why do we (most of us) find Nazi symbolism, N___ 'jokes' and G___ 'jokes' offensive? Why do we (most of us) refrain from incorporating such crappola in our everyday communication with others? Because even though there may be a yahoo out in the crowd who laughs, or, if you're Anne Coulter you may find an audience of right-wingers where the majority will laugh, we know that there are some who might well be pained, hurt, intimidated by that free speech. We (most of us) CHOOSE, therefore, not to engage in expressive activities that we know cause pain to others. It is a moral choice. It is not a matter of whether we are free to express it; rather, it is a matter of making a moral decision not to. So simple, yet apparently so beyond the grasp of so many posters here.


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Posted by Kevin
a resident of Oak Tree Acres
on Jun 17, 2011 at 12:01 am

My eyes are tired from all the reading. But a couple thoughts.

Night Owl,

I think two things are going on. One is that there remain a lot of people out there who think Hitler did a good thing. They know that decent people will condemn them for saying that, so they wrap themselves in the flag or other cockamime rationales to continue having their beliefs without having the courage to tell people what they really believe.

Another one is that some may not be Nazis or Nazi sympathizers, but they are Obama haters and their hatred of Obama trumps the pain you and others (and not just Jews) are feeling. They like the idea that the moderate Democrat Obama, whose moderation has irritated those on the left to no end, is being compared to Hitler. Mental midgets that they are ... you call them dwarves ... they're unable to articulate their hatred in convincing terms, so they're all too happy to allow racist symbolism crap to conjure up the hatred it does.

I hope you see that I sympathize with you. But I don't think you're going to convince the Nazi sympathizers and/or Obama haters with your posts. I do commend you, however, for persisting. Young people might well prosper in following the discussion. Sorry, I'm very tired....


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 17, 2011 at 12:36 am

Kevin:

Assumption as to motive is like a conclusion based on an untested hypothesis. It may sound great while being absolutely incorrect.

I am a strong proponent of free speech and I am physically and morally repulsed by what Hitler did.

Therefore, I would disagree with at least your 1st assumption.


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 17, 2011 at 3:56 am

Mike,

You might be able to impress kids in your neighborhood with that kind of reasoning, but you're not going to impress anyone else.

If we treated speech like natural phenomenon, we couldn't assume anything about _anyone's_ meanings ... ever. Our scientific methods work relatively well on natural objects; but much less so on meaning-producing humans. Hint: molecules don't lie; humans not only lie but engage in all manner of deception. (See your compadre Ol' Dishonest Steve above.)

But as communicative beings, we _do_ possess the capacity to draw reliable inferences from others' meanings. So, for example, we know with a good deal of certainty that a promise is a promise, and is motivated by speaker's need to convey an assurance that speaker is placing himself/herself under moral obligation to engage in a future act, that is not otherwise apparent to hearer, and that the act is something the hearer wants done. (As opposed to, say, a threat.)

Your meanings here seem clear enough. Your hatred of Obama outweighs the human obligation to criticize Christian Nazi biker on moral grounds.

To draw upon Kevin's second assumption, which you haven't felt the need to dispute, this places you in the mental midget category: "unable to articulate their hatred [of Obama] in convincing terms, so they're all too happy to allow racist symbolism crap to conjure up the hatred it does." No less a moral failing than the first, in my judgment. In both, ignorance and moral shortcoming conjoin to produce a morally repugnant outcome.

Final note, Mike. Strictly speaking, scientists do not reason morally when engaged in their study of natural phenomenon (for, again, molecules or plants or rocks don't talk back). Humans, on the other hand, are expected to reason morally when engaged in meaningful interaction. By your own admission, you have failed the moral reasoning test.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 17, 2011 at 7:53 am

Night Owl:

"Your meanings here seem clear enough. Your hatred of Obama outweighs the human obligation to criticize Christian Nazi biker on moral grounds."

Actually, I've always liked Obama, think he's doing a great job, and intend to vote for him next time around as well.

Again, assumptions as to motive may sound great while being absolutely incorrect.


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Posted by steve
a resident of Parkside
on Jun 17, 2011 at 8:50 am

Speaking of 'absolutely incorrect', ol sanctimonious owl and ruth-which part of the link I provided was dishonest? Did the union thug not use a Hitler reference? Did he later apologize under pressure (not of his own accord)? Was this information not in the linked story, or did you just fail to read the entire story?
Why is everything OK now that he was coerced into backing off his offensive statements? You're willing to give this guy a pass now? I'm sure he still belieives stronlgy in what he first said---he just got a talkin-to from his political buddies to back down on the rhetoric. It doesn't change the intent......but, maybe you're giving him a pass because he's a leftist.


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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 17, 2011 at 10:19 am

I'm not willing to give anyone a pass, Nazi biker, Mike, Stacey, Steve, or anyone else who tries to defend or rationalize away what clearly has been a morally offensive action taken within the community.

Use of Nazi symbolism is legal. But it _is_ immoral. This is taught in most families and in most schools. An inability to recognize the distinction is a reflection upon an individual and the community to which he or she belongs.

Moral decency calls for a good society's denunciation of immoral acts. Nazi biker has given our community cause to step forward and denunciate his action, not on legal but on moral grounds.

Many have stepped forward here to express the offensiveness and painfulness of the imagery. Others have refused to do so, using all manner of twisted rationale to justify Nazi biker's action. Need I remind people how history has shown what happens when people fail to speak up?

It is unfortunate but I suppose necessary that clarity be brought to this matter.

The union leader in New Jersey who likened Doug Christie to Hitler was not coerced into apologizing as Steve untruthfully asserts. He did not fall back on Steve's childish excuse: "It's my legal right to exercise free speech." He did not a la Stacey lash out with charges that his critics were being sanctimonious. He did not, a la Mike, say 'I'm only criticizing Christie, nothing more.' No, such pathetic responses only would have compounded his _moral_ offense.

Instead, after hearing many around him condemn his offense, he did the right thing. He stepped forward and apologized. Moral condemnation of his speech was the right thing to do; his apology - much needed - was also the right thing to do. That's what happens in a moral society. Steve, Stacey, Mike, and the Christian Nazi biker have shown their inability to grasp this idea. I hope that there are not too many more out there like them. I fear otherwise.



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Posted by Another Steve
a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 17, 2011 at 10:50 am

Steve,
For years I've had to suffer the embarrassment of reading your words associated with my name.

Here's another one. Moral argumentation doesn't coerce, it compels.

Or is it all the same for you? Thought so.


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Posted by Bernie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2011 at 12:53 pm

Ruth, Harvey, Night Owl and others,

Some can't see the distinction between law and morality. Upbringing? Education? Who knows? Thankfully that is why we have a Bill of Rights and human rights attorneys and advocates. To protect the innocent from all the biased bubbleheads out there. You've scored well in your comments and we are better off for it.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 17, 2011 at 3:48 pm

I would argue a very strong link between law and morality, with law expressing our commitment to the moral principle codified thereby.

The law that guarantees free speech as protection against tyranny and oppression expresses our commitment to protecting ourselves against behavior which we as a nation find morally abhorrent.

Look what happened to Sophie Scholl under an administration that outlawed free speech. Indeed, it might be argued that the suppression of free speech is a major component of any oppressive government.






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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 17, 2011 at 4:21 pm

We're not talking free speech, Mike. We're talking about a moral obligation to condemn speech that is violent or hateful. You seem unwilling to acknowledge the difference. How come?

There is a strong link between law and morality; but only a willful ignoramus would argue that they are one and the same.

See, for example, the immoral law that permitted slavery and the treatment of slaves as chattel. See, for example, the immoral law that restricted women's right to vote. See, for example, the immoral law that permitted separate but equal education. See, for example, the immoral law that permitted public swimming pools to restrict black people from entry. See, for example, the immoral law that restricts gays' rights to marry. Get the picture?

In other words, what is lawful or not may not sufficiently cover moral issues. That is, I might add, why the law changes. Two decades ago there were no laws against hate speech on the books. The law now recognizes that certain speech qualifies as hate speech. You are, for example, now legally restricted from yelling racial epithets at your next-door neighbor. You do realize this don't you? Hardly govt'l suppresion of your free speech, do you think? Or no?

Your pedestrian defense of Christian Nazi biker's right to free speech is not at issue. The issue is why you apparently recognize no moral obligation to condemn the speech he has chosen. You seem to be saying 'As long as it isn't illegal it's okay by me.' Well, some of us feel differently. We say, 'Yes, it may not be illegal to express one's beliefs by dredging up hate imagery from the past -- imagery that was directed against a select group of human beings and still is. But it is morally wrong to do so.' Indeed, to defend biker's display, as you have done, simply because it is not illegal, shows indication of moral deficit.


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 17, 2011 at 4:27 pm

Julie is a registered user.

(Applause). Ruth, that was an amazing post! Thank you.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 17, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Ruth,

You and I both agree that Nazis and Nazism are inappropriate. We disagree as to whether use of the mustache by Poster Guy should be interpreted as an abuse of moral sensibilities per se or as acceptable as part of a legally-protected expression of protest. In other words, whether we should focus on the symbol itself or on its function in the message.














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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 17, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Nope. Sorry, Mike. The symbol is more than 'inappropriate' (a rather curious choice of words from you, don't you think?).

The symbol itself, as heinous reminder of perhaps humankind's darkest chapter, goes well beyond the mere 'inappropriate'. Today, for most educated members of the human race, the Nazi symbol overpowers any message that you or Nazi biker guy might want to apply to it.

There is no need to incorporate such a symbol into any message; nor is there any rational defense for so doing. Any message you or Nazi biker guy wants to convey about Barack Obama need not and should not reach for such a hideous form of expression. There are plenty of other words and symbols to convey one's dissatisfaction with a president's policies.

Back to your description of Nazis and Nazism as 'inappropriate'. A belch at the dinner table is 'inappropriate'. But the term 'inappropriate' doesn't begin to adequately represent what the Nazis did. So, again, as your messages have consistently indicated, this is about you and your morality, and perhaps your attitude towards Jews, more so than it is about Christian Nazi Biker guy.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 17, 2011 at 11:12 pm

"The symbol itself, as heinous reminder of perhaps humankind's darkest chapter, goes well beyond the mere 'inappropriate'"

As I said, some interpret the symbol as an abuse of moral sensibilities per se. Others interpret the symbol in terms of its function the message.

In this particular case if the message were designed to inspire a return to Nazism or imply some virtue associated with it, then use of the symbol would be inappropriate to the point of criminality.

If, on the other hand, the symbol were used to warn against the danger or threat of such an ideology, then its use would be effective, appropriate and laudable.












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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 18, 2011 at 7:19 am

Mike,

You seem to be showing willful ignorance about the pain that recurrent uses of Nazi symbolism inflicts - not only upon a people who were targeted by the Nazis, but also generally upon all moral beings. I don't know why you would persist in being so ignorant, unless, as I've already suggested to you, it is because of some (perhaps unexamined) biases that you may hold towards some groups of people.

Our language is wonderfully complex. If people are worried about movement toward, say, greater state control, or toward national socialism, or toward imperialist expansionism, there are words (and symbols) to legitimately express these views. One does not need to dig up painful and hurtful symbols like swastikas and Hitlerian mustaches. Such is the stuff that little 10 year-old boys might do for attention before they have learned the history of Naziism and the holocaust. When adults use swastikas and Hitler mustaches, it indicates some kind of pathology.

For example, if I do not approve of the way you are acting, I have thousands of words and word combinations to use to clearly express my disapproval; but I do not and would not resort to use of the derogatory N______-word once used to describe African Americans in order to make myself clear. Common decency precludes my usage of the term. Like Nazi imagery, there is no imaginable context that warrants my use of the term; no message I'd need to convey that warrants such. But if I did, I know that my family, as well as virtually everyone I know and respect, would openly express their moral dismay that I'd have sink to using such a vile and hateful term.

I've asked you what Christian Nazi biker might possibly have in mind that warrants his vile and noxious lawn sign. You have been unable to provide a credible answer; nor have I. And I suspect there isn't a moral creature on this earth who could. There is no message, Mike, that would validate Christian Nazi biker's use of this violent imagery. It is safe to say, rather, that he is psychologically unstable and is using the imagery because he gets off on using symbolic violence to get attention from others. There are many out there like him. See, for example, "observer's" above message @ June 16 at 8:21 pm; note the garbled up language he/she uses, indicative of scrambled thoughts that he/she is unable to adequately convey in words. Is "observer" a ten year-old boy who's seeking attention, or an adult filled with sickness and hate? It's difficult to distinguish, I trust you'll agree.

So, again, you are mistaken. There is no imaginable message out there that calls for or validates use of horrific, morally revolting imagery. The imagery overwhelms any 'message'. Christian Nazi biker is 'free' to express his hate, but the obligation of decent human beings is to express their moral disapprobation whenever such hatefulness arises in the community. When posters like Steve, Stacey, Brian, and yourself refuse to acknowledge this obvious expression of hate in the community, you're missing an opportunity to embrace human decency.


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Posted by Mike
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jun 18, 2011 at 1:45 pm

Well, Ruth, as long as you use language to demonize those who disagree with you, you'll look like a Nazi to me - whether you have a mustache or not; and that's scarier to me than any poster I've ever seen.
















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Posted by Ruth
a resident of Lund Ranch II
on Jun 18, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Thank you for this instructive moment for us, Mike. You see, when you state that my condemnation of Nazi biker, on moral grounds, has me looking like a Nazi to you, you demonstrate how the name/image overwhelms the message. You suggest I'm Nazi-like; but when you do so, just like the Christian Nazi biker, you're saying far more about yourself than about me. Thanks again for sharing.


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Posted by Kevin
a resident of Oak Tree Acres
on Jun 18, 2011 at 3:23 pm

I also applaud Ruth's patience in drawing Mike out and exposing the hatred. Two thumbs up for decency.


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Posted by Julie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 18, 2011 at 7:59 pm

Julie is a registered user.

Wow! First, Ruth's posts are well written and hardly demonize anyone. Since when is disagreeing with someone equivalent to "demonizing" them? And second, when a person posting viewpoints on a local newspaper forum gets likened to a Nazi....that's over the top. Is that what "Nazi's" did...simply disagree in writing with others? It's frightening how (over)reactive we are becoming as a society. Mike, I agree your post exemplifies Ruth's points beautifully.

So, what ever happened? Is the poster still on the lawn?

I think that rights are a privilege, to be used responsibly. I'm glad to live in a country where a person can place such an offensive poster on their grass without the police hauling them away. And yet, I'm concerned that a person doesn't have an internal moral compass that stops them from placing such a sign. Personally, I'm not simply guided by "laws"...e.g. it isn't the law that stops me from killing someone or stealing, it's my own sense of ethics. That same set of ethics would never allow me to express my views against the president in such an offensive manner.


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Posted by Night Owl
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 19, 2011 at 1:10 am

Since everyone is applauding one another, I want to commend both Ruth and Julie for so clearly expressing a position that needs to be articulated, again and again.


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