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Coarse politics: "F--- Biden" banner draws ire of York City neighbors - York Dispatch


Source: https://www.yorkdispatch.com/story/news/local/york-county/2023/10/28/coarse-politics-f-biden-sign-draws-ire-of-york-city-neighbors/71330903007/

Image of Coarse politics: "F--- Biden" banner draws ire of York City neighbors - York Dispatch

It's political season, and signs are going up across York County.On some roadsides, they never left.Some are witty.Some are derogatory.And a few are profane.In York City, one homeowner's sign has drawn the ire of neighbors.A pro-Donald Trump flag hanging from the porch of a house on Florida Avenue features the image of the former president holding up two middle fingers with the words "F--- Biden" emblazoned in blue and red.(The text, of course, doesn't feature the dashes.)Several neighbors raised concerns about the sign, with one going so far as to call the York City Police. That neighbor asked not to be named out of fear of potential reprisal — the home also boasts a "Protect the Second Amendment" sticker on the door.Please consider subscribing to support local journalism.The individual, who reached out to The York Dispatch with their concerns, didn't necessarily object to the politics being expressed, but to the prospect of untold numbers of children passing by the obscenity-emblazoned flag during Halloween trick or treating."I was shocked that someone was willing to put up on his own house something that's so obscene," the neighbor said.Another neighbor, who also declined to be named, agrees: "I wouldn't put something like that up."MORE: 'Do we have a f—— problem?': School board candidate pleads guilty in school bus incidentMORE: Inside York's newest 'rage room' designed for breaking, creating and breaking againMORE: Fairview Township Police seek public's help in theft of political signsAttempts to reach the homeowner were unsuccessful, including knocking on the door directly and leaving behind a business card.Messages left with the individual have not been returned.Smith STEAM Academy is just up the street on Texas Avenue.School officials did not respond to requests for comment.So what happens to the sign?The neighbor who contacted the York City Police Department said they told police couldn't do anything about it because it was on private property.York City Police did not respond to a request for comment.Mayor Michael Helfrich said Friday that the city's hands were tied.The courts, he said, have ruled that such obscenities are legal and are protected speech."That doesn't mean it's classy," the mayor added.The precedent was set in 1971 in Cohen v. California.In that case, the U.S.Supreme Court prevented the conviction of a man, Paul Robert Cohen, for the crime of disturbing the peace after he wore a jacket emblazoned with the words "F--- the Draft" in a California courthouse.More recently, a federal appeals court ruled in 2022 that a "F---the Police" shirt worn by a man at a 2016 Ohio county fair was protected speech.In these polarized times, of course, coarser language is being used more and more in political campaigns and attacks on candidates.As Trump rose to the presidency, the phrase "Tuck Frump" became popular among those on the left.In Australia, a political staffer for then-Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball was suspended for a Facebook post in which the staffer posted a picture of a T-shirt with the saying as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.In October 2021, the phrase "Let's Go Brandon" became a popular phrase on the right after chants of "F--- Joe Biden" could be heard during a NASCAR race.An NBC Sports reporter, interviewing race winner Brandon Brown, suggested the crowd was chanting "Let's Go Brandon," and a right-wing meme was born.NASCAR and NBC have since taken steps to limit “ambient crowd noise” during interviews, but it was too late — the phrase already had taken off.When the president visited a construction site in suburban Chicago in 2021 to promote his vaccinate-or-test mandate, protesters deployed both three-word phrases. Later that year, Biden’s motorcade was driving past a “Let’s Go Brandon” banner as the president passed through Plainfield, New Jersey.A portion of the U.S.was already angry well before the Brandon moment, believing the 2020 presidential election was rigged despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary, which has stood the test of recounts and court cases.But anger has now moved beyond die-hard Trump supporters, said Stanley Renshon, a political scientist and psychoanalyst at the City University of New York.He cited the Afghanistan withdrawal, the southern border situation and rancorous school board debates as situations in which increasing numbers who were not vocally anti-Biden now feel that “how American institutions are telling the American public what they clearly see and understand to be true, is in fact not true.”Trump hasn’t missed the moment.His Save America PAC at the time sold a $45 T-shirt featuring “Let’s go Brandon” above an American flag.One message to supporters reads, “#FJB or LET’S GO BRANDON?Either way, President Trump wants YOU to have our ICONIC new shirt.”While the shirt isn't directly featured on Trump's campaign website as of Friday of this year, another site, "Let's Go Brandon," sells a wide variety of "FJB" and "Let's Go Brandon" merchandise, including uncensored F—Joe Biden material. It was not immediately clear if that website was affiliated with Trump's campaign.It's not just limited to presidential campaigns, either.Pennsylvania Sen.John Fetterman has made blunt language part of his image during his months in office.For example, take a tweet sent Oct.23 in response to a Fox News tweet regarding Ohio Republican Sen.JD Vance circulating a memo calling for aid to Israel and Ukraine to be split up:"F--- that," the Senator's official account wrote.On Sept. 14, he also wrote that Florida Republican Rep.Matt Gaetz should "get your s--- together" when responding to a tweet by the representative sarcastically calling Fetterman a "fashion icon."Sen, Tina Smith, D-Minnesota, also used foul language on social media when talking about Rep.Marjorie Taylor-Greene, R-Georgia, complaining about the U.S.Senate dress code in reference to Fetterman's dress."Seriously?You’re b----ing about Senate dress code when House Republicans are about to drive the Federal Government off a cliff," Smith wrote on Sept. 18, regarding the then-impending shutdown."Again?"Pennsylvania Gov.Josh Shapiro even used foul language at the announcement of the state's economic action plan in September.The event was held at PennAir in York County; their motto is "kick ass."Please consider subscribing to support local journalism."We challenge you to make meaningful investments in time, energy and money to make sure the world knows Pennsylvania's here to kick ass," PennAir CEO Seth Bray said during the press conference announcing the event.Shapiro obliged."Your mantra is 'Kick Ass,' our mantra is typically GSD, which typically I just say means 'Get Stuff Done,' but maybe here I'm allowed to [say it], we focus on getting s--- done every day in Pennsylvania," Shapiro said to applause during his remarks that day.While coarse, courts across the country have repeatedly ruled that this sort of speech is OK.Earlier in 2021, the borough of Roselle Park, New Jersey, dropped its case against a resident who displayed a "F---Biden" sign as reported by the New Jersey Monitor.The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey had taken up the homeowner's case.“From a legal standpoint, these cases are pretty simple. The Supreme Court has made it clear that government cannot limit profanity in public,” Thomas Healy, a law professor at Seton Hall University, told the Monitor at the time.“You just cannot give government officials the power to go around punishing people because of the content of their speech.”MORE: York City Police seeks missing 84-year-old manMORE: York City Police seek information on shooting that left man injuredMORE: 'Eager to work': K-9 Miki and his handler Cole hit the streets of York County after months of trainingEarlier this year, the Tri County School District in Michigan banned "Let's Go Brandon" sweatshirts from its school, prompting a federal lawsuit by the mother of two students according to the Georgetown University Free Speech Tracker.The Free Speech Project tracks First Amendment cases across the country.While political analyst Terry Madonna said he wasn't capable of speaking on any constitutional issues, he said such signs reflect just how polarized our politics have become."We've had a lot of brutal campaigns," Madonna said."I'm not suggesting that it's new to American politics.Believe me, in the 19th century we had some brutal campaigns. But I think it's more provocative and the attacks are sharper, and they get expanded by the use of social media."— The Associated Press contributed to this report.— Reach Matt Enright via email at [email protected] or via Twitter at @Matthew_Enright.FacebookTwitterEmail

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