Evangelist Elmer "Joe" Christopherson of Oswego says Naperville violated his rights to free speech and freedom of religion when he was handed a ticket on Sept. 2 for unlawful display of a noncommercial sign within 10 feet of pavement. Who do you think is right -- the city or the preacher?
Those of us who work in the newspaper trade tend to have a soft spot for the First Amendment. But in this case, it sounds like the officer who handed Brother Elmer the ticket cut him plenty of slack beforehand. The account in Sunday's Sun says Ole' Elmer preached for several hours during Last Fling, and that a couple times officers even shooed away heathen souls who so callously harassed the good reverend.
C'mon, Elmer, don't be a Fudd(y Duddy). What are you challenging--the constitutionality of Naperville's ability to regulate and control how and where demonstrations may take place? Good luck, but don't think you'll win that one.
Naperville, after all, is fairly tolerant when it comes to street demonstrations. Remember the pro-life demonstrations with the graphic pictures of aborted fetuses that protesters held up along Ogden Avenue over the summer, anyone? Sounds like Elmer's suit is intended for the sole purpose of increasing the preacher's name recognition, and for smearing the reputation of Naperville by making it sound like an intolerant community.
Do you agree? What's your take on the city's issuance of a citation for an alleged sign ordinance violation?