When I got out of my car at the Bank of America on Catalina, I was greeted by a familiar sight. Two guys stood by a card table with pictures of President Obama slogans for a former presidential candidate, Lyndon Larouche.
They were familiar because they did the same thing in front of the Hermosa post office. I complained to the HB police. I asked the police whether they had a permit to solicit support for a political cause on a public sidewalk. Apparently they didn’t have the necessary permit. The dispatcher sent a patrol car by to talk with them. They haven’t been back since.
One of the Larouche campaigners pointed out to me that they had the right under the constitution to assemble and exercise their rights of free speech. I’d be the last person to suggest we deny anyone their free speech rights. I’ve been threatened, accused and insulted because I’ve exercised these rights but I’ve never felt threatened because I know I have the right to do so.
I don’t know much about Lyndon Larouche other than he’s run for president a few times, had something to do with the U. S. Workers Party and served time in prison for violation of postal regulations. My problem is with their imagery.
The Larouche campaign table had a few large pictures of President Obama with a Hitler mustache. I’ll admit, if I’d seen the same picture with G. W. Bush under the mustache, I probably wouldn’t have had as much of a personal reaction. But my objection wasn’t about my personal political beliefs or freedom of speech. It was about community standards.
Almost 70 years after the allies defeated Adolph Hitler and his Nazi party, the memories those images evoke still offend a lot of people. It isn’t illegal to display a Nazi flag or to give people the Nazi salute. We don’t see those things happen because they would violate the community’s sense of right and wrong.
Based on current polls, about half the country disagrees with Obama’s policies. That’s healthy, democratic discourse and it’s part of what makes our country great.
Kids learn about the criminal and immoral behavior of the Nazis. We also teach them that the President is our country’s leader, the person who represents the American people to the rest of the world.
I believe mixing an image that represents the horrendous evil of the Nazi era, with the image of our President, sends a message to kids that’s confusing and inaccurate. Whether you believe in the policies of this administration or any other, our community has standards and these images lie outside those standards.
Unlike Hermosa Beach, our police department has no regulation it can enforce to remove these images from our sidewalks. I stopped in at the RBPD and spoke by phone from the lobby to someone in the building. She said the Larouche supporters have a perfect right to do what they do on the sidewalk and display the images of Obama with the Hitler mustache.
I asked whether that applied to everyone. The officer on the other end of the phone hesitated, then said it did. So I asked if it would be OK for others to set up their card tables up and down the sidewalk. She said yes.
So it seems if you have a cause or a political point of view and you want to set up your table and posters in Redondo Beach, our sidewalks are open. Come on down.