Thursday, November 26, 2015

Georgia's New Politically Incorrect Sign

Sheriff Mike Jolley of Harris County, GA just paid for and posted a new, very controversial sign. The sign, right off of the highway, reads "“WARNING: Harris County is politically incorrect. We say: Merry Christmas, God Bless America and In God We Trust. We salute our troops and our flag. If this offends you … LEAVE!” Sheriff Jolley claimed that the "silent majority" has become "too silent" and therefore the sign was necessary. To not much of a surprise, the sign has elicited mixed reactions. Some call the sign "childish" while others are praising it.  Much of the criticism about the sign stems from the idea that Jolley is using public property to promote his own personal beliefs. 

A human rights group has reportedly sent Harris County a letter saying that this sign is unconstitutional and should be taken down. They argue the sign violates both the 1st and 14th amendments. 

Other areas of the country are now copying Jolley's sign. For example, a bakery in Ohio posted a sign reading the exact same message as the sign in Harris County. 

Do you think Jolley should be allowed to post this sign? Should it be taken down?
Does the human rights group have an argument that this sign really in unconstitutional?



Alex Binsacca said...

It is hard to say as of most recent times people have become more careful in the sense of saying merry Christmas to those who do not celebrate it. In fact, this topic has become really controversial as there have been huge debates on whether or not people should be allowed to post up Christmas trees in town squares. On the topic on whether or not it is constitutional, all depends on if the country is a religious free zone and if the sheriff asked for permission to hang the sign up. It it is not then I am pretty sure it is fair game. However, the sign seems to take a more enforcement approach. As in, the words it displays seems to be like it is trying to enforce their religion on other people. Thus, it is unconstitutional. I am pretty sure that the sheriff is in his right to post the sign because the establishment clause in the 1st amendment only prevents the government from doing something like this, not individual people. However, it all comes down to what the courts decide, as people who are offended by it are gonna have to petition it.

Louis Villa said...

I think that the sign is ridiculous, but on its own is not a controversy. It is pretty rude, but it doesn't seem to have harmful intentions behind it. If people in this town or county start acting out against people who are not 'American', then I think there needs to be some kind of intervention. But at this point, it is just some town trying to stand out for a petty reason.

ETHAN CHAO said...

This sign can be quite offensive to many people, though I do agree with Louis that it really isn't threatening. This sign isn't actively trying to offend or hurt anyone, though it is quite ridiculous and should not exist on public land. This sign, on public property, is a violation of the 1st amendment's Establishment Clause, in that this sign promotes a specific religion. It's perfectly alright if this childish sign was posted in front of someone's business or house, but it's not okay to post it on the government property that this county sign is.

Huayu Ouyang said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Huayu Ouyang said...

I don't think that the sheriff should be allowed to post the sign on public property, because he is essentially trying to speak on the behalf of everyone in Harris county as a public official, which would probably violate the 1st Amendment. But I do think that the sheriff or a privately owned bakery should be allowed to post the sign on private property, even though the whole purpose of the sign is to divide people by looking down on "PC culture."

On the issue of "political correctness," I feel like some people use the excuse of free speech and "this country is so politically correct nowadays!" to say whatever they want, including potentially offensive things, and particularly in the case of the sheriff, feel superior over everyone else just because they are bravely speaking up for the "silent majority." Yes, they do have a right to say offensive things, but that doesn't mean other people can't criticize them for saying it. I don't actually think it's that bad to be politically correct and consider that some people have different holidays other than Christmas, especially because it's not like it actually threatens Christmas in any way - 90% of Americans still celebrate Christmas, including 80% of non-Christians.

Emily Shen said...

I agree with Huayu — like Kim Davis, another example of a public official using the First Amendment to defend his/her actions and forgetting that he/she is expressing her beliefs in the capacity of being a GOVERNMENT WORKER and not an individual. However, it's more realistic to assume that the bakery has the right to post the sign — particularly if it's a small, family-owned one.

As for political correctness, I (perhaps naively) believe that most adults should have a fundamental understanding of what is an okay thing to say to another human being. And if they don't, someone else surely will, so naturally, people who say things that are offensive will be checked by other people who realize the gravity of what they are saying or implying (I don't think that our culture today is averse to criticizing people...).