Okay. I wasn’t going to post anything about the horrific happenings of this last weekend. I just felt depressed and depleted, particularly by the realization that nothing was ever going to change regarding gun control, hate speech, or the general tenor of what has come to be laughingly described as “civil discourse” in this country.
We all know that after the memorial services and funerals, everyone (especially the media) will go back to their old ways. Until the next time.
I was hopeful that a few days would be spent in thoughtful reflection by the nation, at least until those funerals and memorials were over. Think again.
I had to take my mother to a doctor’s appointment this afternoon, but on the way I swung by our local post office to pick up our mail. As I drove in the entrance I spotted a car parked right in front with what appeared to be some kind of signage plastered all over it and several sandwich board signs set up around it. There was a man standing several feet away, closer to the door to the post office. He was also holding some signs.
The one that stood out as I went around to park on the left side of the building was the one that said “Flush Obama!”
I had to walk past this hot mess in order to enter the building. I didn’t stop to read the numerous signs and placards, but you could get their drift. The “flush” part said it all. There was also some mention of Obama running up the deficit, blahbby, blah, blah, along with the usual anti-Obama stuff.
As I walked past him, he said something in my direction, to which I responded “Get a life!”
How was this guy allowed to do this on federal property–right smack underneath the U.S. flag that was flying at half staff because of the tragic events of the past few days? Unbelievable. There are big signs that say “no skateboarding, bike riding” etc., on post office property, but nut cases can set up business right outside the door. Y’all come on down!
I hurried inside and went to the counter where I asked the person working there (she may have been the postmaster) if there was anything that could be done about that guy. She kind of sighed and said unfortunately, no. He had checked with the postal inspector’s office and was within his rights as a citizen to protest outside the office. She also mentioned that he’d done the same thing at other offices in the state, with Austin being one of the most recent sites.
When I told her what I’d said to the guy, she said “Good for you, Ma’am.” Maybe she was just trying to humor me.
Anyway, on the way out he tried to say something to me but (and here is where my husband cringed for my safety when I told him this) I just leaned forward and in a quiet voice said “F*** you.” Hubby says that’s just the kind of reaction he was out to get.
Well, I didn’t disappoint him, did I?
When I got home I Googled “protesting outside post offices” and found this piece from the Bryan-College Station website “The Eagle” about a similar occurrence back in April during the health care debate:
Protest signs may offend some, but are legal
A table outside a post office with signs suggesting President Barack Obama is a Nazi may draw some anger and dirty looks, but officials said such displays are allowed on government property.
On Monday, two protesters parked outside the post office on William Joel Bryan Parkway in Bryan to express frustration over the federal health care overhaul that recently made its way through Congress. They displayed a picture of Obama with an Adolf Hitler-like mustache and handed out literature railing against the legislation.
The protesters declined to talk to The Eagle or even give their names. But their signs indicated that they are supporters of the LaRouche Political Action Committee. The group was founded by Lyndon LaRouche, a political activist who has run multiple times as a Democratic candidate for president.
LaRouche’s supporters are known to wave incendiary pictures of Obama. The PAC has compared the health care reform package signed into law by Obama to Nazi medical killing programs and declared the president’s actions impeachable.
“In short, the activity they engaged in is allowed,” said Lou Recchilongo, a postal inspector responsible for enforcing guidelines regarding conduct on U.S. Postal Service property. “However, there are certain guidelines, and they are posted in the lobby of the post office. You can’t protest in the interior portions of the lobby, and they can’t impede customers or employees in the furtherance of their duties.”
There are also some restrictions on what they can say. No signs can be perceived to incite violence. They can promote a cause, but cannot electioneer. In other words, they can make statements about policies, but not endorse political candidates.
The post office is federal property, meaning rules for one group must be same for all others — no matter their cause. According to the First Amendment Center at the University of Vanderbilt, post offices and other government office buildings are allowed to restrict political activity more than other public areas, like parks. But if the activity isn’t disrupting or impeding business, it is generally allowed.
“We do talk to them — sometimes on a daily basis,” Recchilongo said of LaRouche PAC protesters. “We monitor their activity when they are at the post office and investigate any complaints that would lead to a violation.”
He said members of the LaRouche PAC often protest around Texas. They are also known to visit local tax offices. He said he often hears complaints about their activities.
“There is a life cycle,” he said. “The first time these folks show up, we hear more complaints than if they turn up at the same office later.”
You know, somehow I just can’t see this type of thing being tolerated in this heavily Republican town during the Bush years if someone had parked their carcass outside the post office with anti-Bush placards.
They would have been run out of town on a rail.