Same Old Problem

Would you go onto your neighbor’s porch and take his Christmas lights? How about walking up his driveway to grab a nice wicker lawn chair from the yard? And would you pull up flowers from the display near your neighbor’s mailbox?

We hope all of our readers would say no to these questions. They’re common sense no-brainers.

Then why do some people think it’s perfectly fine to tear down political candidate signs from a fellow resident’s private property?

This year’s Presidential primary is a particularly vicious one, following in the tradition of its recent predecessors in being mean-spirited, ugly and intensely negative and personal. But a person’s wholehearted support for candidate X and equally wholehearted disdain for candidate Y does not convey the right to destroy or remove candidate Y’s campaign signs from private property. And campaign sign removal pays no heed to party lines.

We think it’s great when people have made an educated choice and have found a candidate to support. And proclaiming that support by putting up a lawn sign on private property is within our rights in this country.

In spite of disagreeing with a candidate’s opinions, we don’t have the right to remove their lawn signs from private property – just as we do have the right to put up campaign signs for our candidate on our own property, and expect them to still be there in the morning.

There’s a lot of talk about constitutional rights in the current election – some of it misguided or misinterpreted at times, but nonetheless calling attention to the hallowed document. And that brings us to that pesky little constitutional issue of free speech.

Then there’s the idea of someone lurking around in darkness and trespassing on private property to rip up a sign and remove it.  Trespass is against the law, as well as jeopardizing the culprit’s safety if the homeowner happens to see or hear the intruder.

Taking a campaign sign on private property is a crime. Trespass, as we said. Criminal mischief and theft for two more potential charges.

So go ahead and choose a candidate – after all, the first-in-the-nation primary will soon be here. Paste on a bumper sticker, make a few supportive phone calls, send in a donation, and put up a lawn sign before you head to the polls Feb. 9.

Just keep your hands to yourself and your uninvited presence off your neighbors’ private property.