Lawbreaking 101

Remember free speech? Cops in Kent, Ohio (outside of Akron) apparently aren't too familiar with it -- big surprise there, eh?

Seems one Kevin Egler had had enough of President Bush's crimes, so on July 25, he put up a free-standing sign near the intersection of Haymarket Parkway and Willow and Main streets... and promptly got a ticket for it for "unlawful advertising."

Asked the officer who cited him, "Why don't you put the signs in your own yard?"

The probable answer is, he knows he doesn't have to. Egler and about a dozen buds have put hundreds of signs with anti-war messages around Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Indiana over the past 10 months, taking Bush to task for the Iraq war and Americans' loss of civil liberties, which Egler considers to be both illegal and immoral.

It was Egler's first ticket for putting up a political sign, and he said that when he was stopped, he asked the police officer why realtors weren't given any crap for putting up signs reading, "This way to the house for sale," while his political signage was worth a $15 ticket?

"You don't know the difference?" the cop replied ... but never explained what that difference might be.

Anyone who knows anything about the Supreme Court's free speech decisions over the years could tell him: The real estate sign is commercial speech, while Egler's is political. Advertising doesn't have anywhere near the legal protection that political speech does.

Of course, that didn't cut any ice with the cop — this is, after all, Ohio, where disenfranchisement of Democrats is apparently the state sport.

But wait; it gets better: 

So when Egler showed up in court to challenge his ticket, the judge (who apparently had missed a memo or two) dismissed the case ... but prosecutor James Silver was undeterred: He's going to up the ante by charging the 45-year-old Egler with  "littering," which carries a possible two-month jail sentence and a $500 fine.

Said Egler, "I find this an incredible waste of taxpayer dollars."

Hey, Bush is spending upwards of $275 billion a day in Iraq; what's another few hundred bucks to prosecute you


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