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Dawn Fantasia

Dawn is gathering 50 signatures to

Recall Councilman Who Insulted Police Killed While On Duty

The most recent activity of Franklin Councilman David Fanale has caused widespread public outrage, with the latest including a picture of a popular cartoon character, Calvin of Calvin and Hobbes, urinating (with his middle finger extended, mind you) on “the thin blue line” – the symbol used to commemorate fallen officers. Additionally, his public postings, including letters to local media outlets, and postings to his personal Facebook page, have also referred to police officers with slurs, such as “pigs”, “maggots” “sociopaths”, and has also lovingly referred to the town of Roxbury as “a s***hole”. The following information was taken from: “The U.S. Supreme Court has afforded dissident political speech unparalleled constitutional protection. However, all speech is not equal under the First Amendment. The high court has identified five areas of expression that the government may legitimately restrict under certain circumstances. These areas are speech that incites illegal activity and subversive speech, fighting words, obscenity and pornography, commercial speech, and symbolic expression.” Interpreting the First Amendment in this particular context can be a gray area. In order to examine whether the councilman was within the purview of protection from the First Amendment, it appears that the only two applicable exceptions to examine are fighting words and symbolic expression. “Fighting Words: Fighting words are words that "by their very utterance inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace" or have a "direct tendency to cause acts of violence by the person to whom, individually, the remark is addressed" (Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, 315U.S. 568, 62 S. Ct. 766, 86 L. Ed. 1031[1942]). Whereas subversive advocacy exhorts large numbers of people to engage in lawless conduct, fighting words are directed at provoking a specific individual. Generally, only the most inflammatory and derisive epithets will be characterized as fighting words. "Fighting words also should be distinguished from speech that is merely offensive. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that speech that merely offends, or hurts the feelings of another person—without eliciting a more dramatic response—is protected by the First Amendment. The Court has also underscored the responsibility of receivers to ignore offensive speech. Receivers can move away or divert their eyes from an offensive speaker, program, image, or message. "Symbolic Expression Not all forms of expression involve words. The nod of a head, the wave of a hand, and the wink of an eye all communicate something without language. "Not all symbolic conduct is considered speech for First Amendment purposes. If an individual uses a symbolic expression with the intent to communicate a specific message and under circumstances in which the audience is likely to understand its meaning, the government may not regulate that expression unless the regulation serves a significant societal interest unrelated to the suppression of ideas (Spence v.Washington, 418 U.S. 405, 94 S. Ct. 2727, 41 L. Ed. 2d 842 [1974]; United States v. O'Brien, 391 U.S. 367, 88 S. Ct. 1673, 20 L. Ed. 2d 672[1968]). Applying this standard, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of a person who had burned the American flag in protest over the policies of President RONALD REAGAN (TEXAS V. JOHNSON, 491 U.S. 397, 109 S. Ct. 2533, 105 L. Ed. 2d 342 [1989]), and reversed the suspension of a high-school student for wearing a black armband in protest of the Vietnam War (TINKER V. DES MOINES INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT, 393 U.S. 503, 89 S. Ct. 733, 21 L. Ed. 2d 731[1969]), but upheld federal legislation that prohibited the burning of draft cards (O'Brien).Of the government interests asserted in these three cases, maintaining the integrity of the Selective Service System was the only interest of sufficient weight to overcome the First Amendment right to engage in symbolic expression.” The messages and images that Councilman Fanale has shared do not “merely offend, or hurt the feelings of another person—without eliciting a more dramatic response”. I would consider the widespread, public backlash a fairly dramatic response. I would even venture to say that he is encouraging a rebellion of sorts against law enforcement. Moreover, a case may be made in support of Fanale’s attack on the integrity of law enforcement, meaning his words may encourage the wayward citizen to employ his tactics in interactions with the police. This alone warrants closer examination to determine if he can be legally removed from the town council. What is missing here is Councilman Fanale’s ability to separate personal experiences, perceptions, and emotions from the duties of his elected post. Lest he forgets, the townspeople bestowed this duty upon him; it will be the same townspeople that ensure that he is promptly removed from office, or at the very least, not re-elected to his post. David Fanale is an elected official who no longer represents the voice of his constituents. Fanale has proven to be but a small stain in the town’s history, and an even smaller man.

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