What Did The Clerk Think?
I wonder what the clerk of the court thought who came across the case of trespassing chickens and a Nazi flag in Hanover. This battle of wits has gone on for some time now. By all accounts the flags have been up for at least a year. Todd Schilling was quoted in WGRZ wondering “Has she (the plaintiff) been under a rock all these years?”
Mr. Schilling doesn’t seem inclined to take them anytime soon. Nor is he eager to distance himself from the evil associated with Nazism. He said to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle, “I’m not condoning the Holocaust. I’m not saying it’s good.” Hardly a firm denunciation.
He claims he his right to free speech under the First Amendment allows him to proudly display swastika flags on his property, which it probably does. The First Amendment covers all sorts of obnoxious, dumb, racist, even hateful things.
For instance, any American would be free to stand on Hanover Road with a giant sign that reads, “this person is a big racist Nazi who wets the bed.” Freedom of speech allows the media to say all sorts of nasty, untruthful, distasteful things too. Under the First Amendment, a newspaper writer could freely speculate whether the chickens really were the cause of Mr. Schilling’s rage or if perhaps he is just a big chicken himself.
The First Amendment ensures that no one could be prohibited from distributing pamphlets around the neighborhood that said, “beware the two-bit fascist living at 1178 Hanover Road.” Freedom of Religion is fundamental to our society and also protected under the First Amendment. Americans can pray to any god they wish. So, people of all religions–Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists are all free to say a prayer for Todd Schilling to rid him of his hate and ignorance.
The Supreme Court in Texas v. Johnson ruled that citizens have the right to burn the American Flag in protest. Pro athletes have the right to kneel during the National Anthem. Megan Rapinoe from the US World Cup team can say anything she wants about President Trump.
That’s America the way we like it. Mr. Schilling has a right to be a Nazi if he chooses. So long as the court determines it’s not harming anyone else, the government can’t take that right away. You have the freedom to be a Nazi and fellow citizens have the freedom to call you a Nazi.
Derek Smith is a Frewsburg native.