A judge has ordered a homeowner in Roselle Park, New Jersey, to take down several anti-Biden flags from her fence. Some of the flags contain profanity, which the judge said was obscene and violated a borough ordinance.
NJ.com reports, Judge Gary Bundy of the Roselle Park Municipal Court ordered the homeowner to remove the profanity-laced signs within a week or be subject to a $250 daily fine. The judge stated, “this is not a case about politics. It is a case, pure and simple, about language. This ordinance does not restrict political speech.” Democrat Mayor Joseph Signorello III said the home was too close to a school and has upset some residents.
Patricia Dilascio owns the property, but her daughter, Andrea Dick, owns the flags. Dick lives in the home with her husband and looks after her mother. She believes the signs are protected under the First Amendment.
In June, a borough code enforcement agent issued Dilascio a notice of violation. She was issued a court summons days later when the flags were not taken down. The Borough ordinance bans the “display or exhibit any obscene material, communication or performance or other article or item which is obscene.” Obscenity, in the ordinance, is defined as anything an average person would consider “depicts or describes in a patently offensive way sexual conduct” and “lacks serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”
Dick told New Jersey 101.5, “I have until next Thursday to decide. Then they’re going to hit us with a $250 a day fine. It could be up to $500, but they’re starting off at $250. If I don’t take them down, it’s at the judge’s discretion to bump it up. And my mom could do 90 days in jail.”
Dilascio’s attorney, Michael Campagna, has argued that the “standards of obscenity have changed over the years.” He stated, “using the f-word towards someone no longer has a sexual connotation in society and is simply a colloquialism.” He went on to draw comparisons to Nazi Germany, saying, “When Hitler didn’t like something, they burned the books, and then they burned the people. I don’t think we want that to happen in Roselle Park.”
The borough attorney, Jarrid Kantor, argued that “freedom of speech is not an absolute right since some forms of unprotected speech may be subject to reasonable limitations.” Of the six flags displayed on the fence, the judge only ordered the ones with the f-word to be removed. Mayor Signorello believes the decision was a “win for the borough.” He said, “While we respect the views of our residents, there’s no place for profanity by a school and school children.”
Dilascio has 20 days to appeal the decision to Superior Court. The three profanity-laced flags remained up as of Friday, July 16th.