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Soldier’s Uniform Display Ignites Freedom of Speech Battle in Sacramento
by Dan Bacher (danielbacher [at]
Tuesday Feb 15th, 2005 9:45 AM
Here's my article about the big freedom of speech battle in Sacramento over an anti-war display.
Soldier's Uniform Display Ignites Freedom of Speech Battle in Sacramento

by Dan Bacher

A display of a soldier's uniform on the gable of a house in a quiet
neighborhood in the Land Park District of Sacramento has ignited a battle
between anti-war activists and Bush administration supporters over the First
Amendment. The conflict has created a media circus of TV cameras, newspaper
reporters and talk show radio hosts in front of the house many days over the
past week.

Stephen and Virginia Pearcy, both lawyers who work in Berkeley, decided to
put up a uniform of a U.S. soldier hanging on a noose, with the sign "Your
Tax Dollars at Work," at their house in Sacramento. After a group of right
wing opponents of the display gathered at the house last week while the
Pearcys were absent, two individuals, captured on TV cameras, took the
display down.

On Saturday, a group of supporters of the Pearcys and their opponents argued
heatedly while Steve Pearcy, with the support of members of Veterans for
Peace, put a new uniform display on the house. However, this time the
uniform was placed with a new sign saying "Bush Lied I Died," and the noose
was no longer there.

"It is important for the public to know that violations of our
Constitutional rights won't be tolerated," said Virginia Pearcy, "It is
important for all Americans - not just those who disagree with the war - to
support our right of free expression under the First Amendment.

Stephen emphasized that the purpose of the First Amendment is to protect
"unpopular speech" - and this is a clear case of free speech that is
unpopular with supporters of the bush Administration's war on Iraq.

"We put up the display seeking to engage our neighbors to start speaking to
one another about the war," said Virginia. "For example, one ex-military guy
came from Marysville who was opposed to our display. In spite of our
disagreement, we spoke civilly. This is the kind of conversations that we

However, opponents of the display said they felt there were more appropriate
ways of getting the Pearcys' message across. "Why don't they attack the Bush
administration responsible for the war rather than putting up a uniform of a
U.S. soldier?" said James McKee. "There are other ways of making your point
than hanging up a soldier's uniform on a house."

On the other hand, the actual veterans there on Saturday - as opposed to
neo-con chickenhawks backing the war - supported the display.

Dan Buckley, a Vietnam War veteran and member of the Nevada City chapter of
Veterans for Peace, stated, "Freedom of speech is very important and I
consider myself more patriotic than the people opposing this display because
I don't blindly follow someone like they do. The Administration has people
running the war who haven't experienced war - like the soldier represented
on the Pearcy's house."

Buckley emphasized that during the Iraq sanctions, over 1.5 million Iraqis
died, including 500,000 children. "Did the people who started the war and
the sanctions pay the penalty for their crimes?" he asked the crowd of
supporters and media gathered in front of the house..

Dan Daniels, another member of Veterans for Peace, had even harsher words
for the individuals taking the uniform down. "The people who took this
display down and support them - that's what a fascist state is all about,"
he said. "There is no sound reason for us to be in Iraq."

On Monday, a man identifying himself as"Mike" was captured by TV cameras
taking down the display for a second time.

Surprisingly enough, Mark Williams of KFBK Radio, who has been berating the
Pearcys for their anti-war display during his weeknight program, also
blasted the individuals who trespassed on the Pearcy's property and took the
uniform down. In fact, he is offering a $100 award for information leading
to the arrest and conviction of the vandals.

And after the noose was removed and the sign changed to "Bush Lied I Died"
the second time the display was put up, Williams claimed that the display
was no longer "hate speech," as he had earlier described it, but was
"political speech," guaranteed under the First Amendment.

A Sacramento-based group called Move America Forward has called for a
candlelight vigil outside the home at 7 p.m. tonight opposing the display.
Siobhan Guiney, executive director, was quoted in the Sacramento Bee today
saying. "We believe this family has the right to free speech. but speaking
freely does not mean all sentiments should be warmly embraced."

Samantha McCarthy, a local peace activist and supporter of the Pearcys, has
called for a big turnout of people supporting freedom of speech and opposing
Bush's war at the Pearcy's house tonight.

"What Stephen and Virginia are hoping is that enough of us will be willing
to again gather in support of free speech like we did on Saturday," said
McCarthy on Monday. "I will be there and I am also happy to attempt to
organize car pools from Davis. All friends and supporters are welcome."

The address is 2732 Marty Way in Sacramento on Tuesday, February 15, 7-10

Directions: Take I-80 to the 15th street exit, turn right on 15th, then left
on Broadway, then right on Land Park Drive, then left on 2nd Avenue, then
right on Marty Way to 2732.
Listed below are the latest comments about this post.
These comments are submitted anonymously by website visitors.
Speech TestCollin BaberFriday Feb 25th, 2005 10:41 PM
the raddest thing I've ever seenFlavio PollackWednesday Feb 16th, 2005 1:05 PM
surveylocal tvTuesday Feb 15th, 2005 11:42 PM
CongratsDMHTuesday Feb 15th, 2005 8:55 PM
América flags and the gringo flag, there's a differencedesqueridoTuesday Feb 15th, 2005 7:19 PM
bush lied,karl roenfanz ( rosey )Tuesday Feb 15th, 2005 4:56 PM
so what?LeoTuesday Feb 15th, 2005 3:49 PM
Long articles on peripheral points sabotage discussion.Aaron AaronsTuesday Feb 15th, 2005 3:34 PM
several commentsdeanosorTuesday Feb 15th, 2005 3:01 PM
Clarificatin on QuoteDan BacherTuesday Feb 15th, 2005 2:58 PM
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