In America you have Freedom of Speech! Unless you live in the village of Great Neck, NY.

Ronald Kienhuis of Great Neck, NY admits that he was trying to get a rise out of his neighbors when he planted the sign in his front yard that read “BUSH MUST GO!” though he didn’t expect to be threatened with a lawsuit from the village over it, but that’s what happened not too long after the sign went up. – Anti-Bush sign brings brief free-speech battle

First, one neighbor told Kienhuis that someone complained about his sign to the Village of Great Neck. A code inspector showed up. Shortly after, a “notice of violation” arrived from the village ordering him to take the sign down – although the village backed out of its warning yesterday.

Someone also left Kienhuis an anonymous letter asking him to put the sign away. Finally, the sign disappeared over the Fourth of July weekend.

Kienhuis got some cardboard and a marker and made another sign. It’s on his lawn again.

“When I put the sign up, I thought in the back of my mind that it would be either defaced or stolen, because there is underlying polarization on this issue, but I was surprised” with the village’s warning, said Kienhuis, 54, in Great Neck for more than 40 years.

Reading this I expected the sign to be huge and obnoxious, but it turns out it’s one of those typical little yard signs you see all the time for various issues. According to the article, Kienhuis’ neighbors were upset because they felt the sign would lower property values in the neighborhood:

The anonymous letter essentially told Kienhuis, courteously, that neighborhood property values, which the letter writer feared would plunge with anti-Bush rhetoric, matter more than free speech. “A sign of this nature,” the letter went, “will most certainly make it difficult for your neighbors to sell their homes.”

So if you’ve been considering moving to the village of “Great Neck” you might want to remember that your potential neighbors consider property values more important than your right to free speech. If you insist on putting up a small sign expressing your unhappiness with the President you can expect your neighbors to trespass onto your property and steal it if the village opts not to push the issue on their behalf.

18 thoughts on “In America you have Freedom of Speech! Unless you live in the village of Great Neck, NY.

  1. And these things still happen?? Gosh. I agree with the subtitle of your blog; What the fuck is wrong with you people???

  2. Oh, it’s par for the course, all right.  The First Amendment rights mean the GOVERNMENT can’t suppress your freedom of expression, but that doesn’t mean your neighbors can’t—or won’t.  And too often (way, way, WAY too often these days) people think that whatever they want to suppress, they should be able to get the government to suppress for them.  I’m glad the village saw reason (sort of) and backed down from its stance.  The neighbors are on their own here, as it should be. 

    And heck, I think the property values would go UP for those of us who want to live in a neighborhood that tolerates free speech …


  3. i think we must bomb thsi redarded traitors.

    theres no place for that crap.

    this is a land for the white and for the bushlover. not for some gay, black, jewish, liberal terrorists!!

    hell what up with this great nation?

  4. ath we said in uor pub last week.

    the greath nation of america muth be restored.

    theres no greater love then the love the brtish love for the american people!!!!!!!!!!!!

    lets bomb tha negros out of the usa let the white man rule the nation. to many evildoers rule the land, look at all the black priests, eddy murphy, michael jakson and bruce springsteen.

    deport them to iraq, thats where thus terrorist belong.

    im sick of it all.

  5. Comment trolls. Also known as bored-little-14-year-olds-who-haven’t-discovered-the-joy-of-masturbation-yet.

  6. And all these years I though Bruce Springsteen was white!

    Klueless Klux Illcon needs to get hooked on phonics.

  7. I live not too far from Great Neck, NY, which is on Long Island. I am not the least bit surprised that someone unwilling to sign a letter actually tried to express importance of property values over free speech.

    People in middle to upper class neighborhoods on Long Island seem to have adopted an “it’s all about ME and who gives a fuck about you” attitude. I see it all the time, in stores, behind the wheel, everywhere. People here act as if they are the only one on the planet, and should they actually put their friggin cell phone away long enough to realize they’ve just stepped in front of you on line, or cut you off in traffic, or allowed their son to smack your toddler and then ask you what your problem is when you tell their kid to apologize (this happened to me today), they act as if you have somehow impeded their path towards self-fulfillment. Self-absorbed self-important pricks. They even park where they’re not supposed to; dedicated handicapped spots, reserved parking, no such thing here. These people have somehow decided they’re entitled to everything. And it’s not just adults, either. Youth are even worse.

    The town government got pressure from these self serving citizens, and then wised up and retracted their threat. So, in true form, the self serving warn from behind a cloak of anonymity that real estate prices will go down. What these people fail to realize is that their priorities are all skewed, they’ve lost touch with what it means to care about your neighbors, your country, mankind, and they have lost touch with what it means to be a person. SUV’s are still selling regardless of gas prices, people do not say a word about milk going over four bucks a gallon, they do not seem to be concerned about paying the highest real estate and sales tax in the country, but jeez, dont you dare put an anti-anything sign out in front of your house… I might only get 5 times what I paid for my house instead of 6.

    Homes on Long Island have increased in value to the point where had I not been able to buy a home when I did, I would not be able to afford one now, thats for sure. My house in an OK town has tripled in value since I bought it twelve years ago, or some I’m told. I think I’ll go put some signs on my lawn and see what happens.

    Just anti-bush is not good enough. How about anti-milk. Or anti-SUV. Or anti-SUV driving mom who cut me off in order to leave the parking lot of one shopping plaza only to enter the lot of another one.

    Fucking people. Is there anywhere to live where people are nice?

    (“they” – and it’s really is all about they, or them, aint it?)

  8. Oh Ragman, don’t get me started on landscaping! I refer to where I live as LawnGuyland, which is how people people with local accents pronounce it anyway. I have to believe that LI has the Landscaper to Household ratio anywhere. I love the quietness of winter. Once Rodriguez, Rodriguez, & Rodriguez break out the leaf blowers and mowers, peace and quiet are hard to find. That and the people who live in affluent areas near JFK airport managed to get the planes re-routed over our area when the warm weather comes so they don’t have to hear them. As soon as it’s too cold to leave a window open, the planes don’t fly over this way. People suck.

    My neighbors probably think I’m the scurge of the neighborhood. I mow my weeds myself.

    (“cost” – yep, it’s all about da money)

  9. I live in Normal, IL, where a fellow put up a sign about El Salvador in the early ‘80’s, and had to win a legal battle to keep it.  Plus an endless train of morons trespassed and vandalized, and he got a lot of negative feedback for his controversial stand that we should not be using tax money to equip “death squads.”

    The sign is still there, two 4×4 posts in concrete with 4×4 horizontal stays bolted between them, and quarter-inch plexiglass screwed over to protect it.

    On one side it says, “Hate is not a family value” and some idiot painted over the word “not.”  The guy had to scrape off the paint. Looks like this happened a couple times.

    The other side still says, “Abolish the C.I.A. and the School of the Americas / Get U.S. Forces out of Latin America.”

    On his door is a “No Iraq War” sign.

    Kienhuis’ neighbors ought to think twice about how much grief they’re giving him.  They might end up looking at that sign for a really long time.  cool smirk

  10. Freedom of Speech?

    I do find it interesting that the same people on here complaining about their “Freedom of Speech” are in the same breath telling the other side to basically “Shut Up”.

    Isn’t it ironic?

    He had a right to post the sign! (Assuming their are no neighborhood laws against it. I mean like an association or something like that).

    His neighbors had a right to tell him to take it down!

    It doesn’t matter which side of the isle you fall on in this matter… It matters that some people are to close minded and conservative to be willing to hear both sides of the arguement.

    More and more…. the political parties are changing in America… the Democrats are telling people to shut up and just do as told. The Republicans are now the party of individual freedom.

    Think about it… John Kerry, the Democrat’s nominee for president, is married to the head of a company that exports more jobs every year to countries where child labor is ok. Can you picture Jackie being OK with that?

    A lot has been said lately about “How Bush is like Reagan” and etc…. but seriously…. seriously…. take a look at Bush’s policies up against someone like JFK. They really do think a lot alike! (Outside of the Marilyn thing). smile

    So… I got off the subject….

    If you are unwilling to acknowledge that he had a right to put it up, AND his neighbors to complain, you are being VERY conservative and trying to stop the freedom of speech!

    Put that in your pipe and smoke it!

  11. Heath: Telling someone to take down a sign is not the same as expressing free speech. If these folks have an opinion they want to express then they should put up their own sign.

    I also think you need to check your facts about Mrs. Kerry. She does not run the republican Heinz business at all. It’s your precious repubs that are sending the jobs of individuals overseas.

    The Republicans are now the party of individual freedom.

    What a fucking joke! Have you even heard of the Patriot Act?

    A lot has been said lately about “How Bush is like Reagan

  12. OK… fair enough… examples…
    Missile Defense
    TAXES – Gotta Love This One! – Really makes the Leftists Run and Hide

    Taken from…
    JFK never outwardly acknowledged the narrow contested margin of 1960. But he showed in other ways how seriously he took it. He appointed republicans to his Cabinet. He gave many of his ambitious domestic plans which were liberal. His Inaugural address made virtually no mention of domestic policy. Throughout his time in office, it made him severely cautious.

    Perhaps Kerry should listen to his people and say he is like FDR….

    From this link…. (A web-blog that brags – “A (Left-Leaning) Diary of Optimism in American Government”
    Kerry’s far more like FDR than JFK. He’s a former Navy man who spent his whole life in government. An aloof, northern aristocrat, he has about as much connection with the common man as Pat Robertson does with NAMBLA members.

  13. The Republicans are now the party of individual freedom.

    (gasping for breath from laughing, wiping tears from eyes…) No, Heath, the Republicans are the party of letting corporations do whatever the hell they want. 

    If you want to not be forced to acknowledge a god you don’t believe exists, if you are gay and want to get married, or if you are terminally ill and marijuana is the only thing that mitigates your chemo side-effects, the Republican party is not for you.

    Just to keep things clear, the Democratic party is only slightly better.  The Libertarian party is the one that’s all about Freedom.  I’m not plugging for them, mind you, but that’s the way it is.

    Asking your neighbor to take down a sign in an anonymous and threatening letter would be the weakest and least admirable exercise of “freedom of speech.”  Putting up your own sign would be much better.  Trying to pass local laws forbidding such exercise is just dispicable. hmmm

  14. Just because Bush’s space plan may be in some ways similar to JFK’s does not make Bush in any way similar to JFK. I was disgusted when Bush made his little space announcement back in January. It was such an obvious ploy to get votes. If the guy wasn’t such a liar or showed some previous interest in space exploration I might take him serious.

    What a maroon

    Bush has never seen a NASA launch or landing, in part because there are so many other beautiful things to see in the country that he has yet to explore.

    I still think Al Gore had a much better plan for space and he truly has an interest in the subject. Knowing Bush, I’m sure it won’t be too long before we hear about Halliburton’s no-bid moon contracts!

    Missile Defense was a great idea when you have missiles in Cuba pointing your way but today all it’s going to do is piss off the world! Of course with the arms industry dishing out $49 million bucks to the repubs I can see why Bush may take NMD to heart. He’s a tool.

    As for taxes

    The Republicans are trying to rewrite history to cover up the partisan patina of Bush’s tax giveaway for the rich. But the two tax cuts are not comparable in scope, structure or intent.

    Forty years ago, Kennedy’s tax cut was balanced to benefit all income levels, at a time when the federal government had a budget surplus. It was not a drain on the Treasury to further enrich those already rich during a period of escalating deficits, as is Bush’s.


    Americans were paying much higher tax rates in JFK’s time—50 percent in the $32,000 to $36,000 income bracket, and 91 percent on marginal income over $400,000. Today the highest individual income-tax bracket is 38.6 percent. As a nation, we are not overtaxed.

    The Bush tax cut would drop the top rate, paid by only the very rich, 3.6 percentage points, to 35 percent. But it would cut lower brackets by a more modest 2 percentage points. Workers get a few bucks, and millionaires get the moon.

    Who Kerry is like means nothing to me – I’d vote for The Devil over Bush.

    (“court”) – now that’s irony! ISYN

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