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Vote: Should offensive speech be free — or $200?

My colleague in Michigan, Izzy Lyman, filed a thought-provoking report on Watchdog Wire last week; one that I could have just as easily written here in St Augustine on July 4 2013, when former Chairman of the St Augustine Tea Party, David Heimbold, was given a citation for “engaging in an activity subject to a permit — without obtaining a permit; in violation of the Code of Federal Regulations”. His crime? Heimbold was dressed in Colonial attire and carrying a sign identifying him as a member of the local Tea Party.

I found it remarkable that on the weekend we honor the men and women of this nation, who gave their lives defending our liberties and freedoms, that a small town in Michigan, inhabited by some snooty, elitist, holier-than-thou quacks, who have enough money to buy their own rules, would begin enforcing a $200 fine against citizens who use words that they consider naughty.

Do you think Colin Andersen’s fine was excessive?

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Izzy found in her research that Drudge, Time Magazine, and USA Today were reporting that “police in downtown Brighton are cracking down on disorderly conduct by issuing tickets to people who swear or cause problems following complaints about the behavior of teenagers and young adults in the area.”

She cites one ticket issued to 19-year-old Colin Andersen after he complained that his buddy was ticketed for skateboarding near a playground in downtown Brighton. Police asked Andersen to leave; to which he responded, “This is f—— bull—”.

Chief Park Ranger Kimberly Mayo informed local Historic City News reporters that the National Park Service has voided the citation issued to Saint Augustine tea Party member David Heimbold; and, no further charges relating to the incident that occurred on July 4, 2013 will be pursued. Andersen, by the way, contested his ticket — and lost.

Michael Gold

As the Florida editor for Watchdog Wire, my goal is to work with other citizen journalists, like you, to help compensate for the lack of mainstream news reporting to expose waste, fraud and abuse that exists in government. My colleagues at Franklin Center, and peers in the Citizen Watchdog movement, share a belief that government transparency and accountability is not a conservative or liberal idea – it is an American idea. A free flow of information is essential to maintaining our free republic, and that starts with a free press — and that starts with you.

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Categories: Commentary, Must Read, News, Opinion, Regulation, Taxes
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