Civil Liberties Elections '08 Free Speech Presidential Race

Yes, It’s Protected Speech….AND…It Should Come Down – UPDATED


UPDATE: After a long chat with WeHo Mayor Jeffrey Prang, late today Morrisette took the effigy down. Finally.


The fact that you can say or do something, doesn’t mean you should.

The Sarah Palin effigy that ChadMichael Morrisette put up in front of his West Hollywood home as a so-called Halloween display is deeply offensive.

Morrisette’s attitude of “Oh, it’s all just Halloween fun”—or whatever it is he’s been chattering to the press—does not wash.

Keith Olbermann had it right on Monday night when he chose Morrisette as his Worst Person In the World. “This is not the spirit of Halloween, sir,” Olbermann said. “It is the spirit of violence.”

Morrisette has assured media types who questioned him that he wouldn’t have done the same thing with an image of Obama because he knew that hanging a black man was a cultural no-no.

So-o-oooooo, let me get this straight. The image of a black man being lynched is bad. But the image of a white woman being lynched is….Halloween art?

We can’t force Mr. Morrisette (and his partner in poor judgment, housemate, Mito Aviles) to take the Palin effigy down. But it would be nice if the men had the good sense to do it themselves.

Instead, it seems that idiocy in this matter is being piled on top of idiocy: Yesterday, LA County Sup Mike Antonovich jumped feet first into the mix by calling for an investigation as to whether the bad taste Halloween decoration constitutes—yep, you guessed it—a hate crime.


We can save your county counsel guys the trouble, and I can give you the answer to your question right now:

NO. It’s not a hate crime.

“Had this stupid act been done to Senator Obama,” prattled Antonovitch officiously, “there would appropriately have been a national outcry.”

Well, actually, Mike…. an Ohio man named Mike Lunsford did just that. And we were really, really creeped out by his display too.

But we didn’t try to get it charged as a hate crime.

(And while we’re on the subject of creepy….)

Get a grip, people.


  • I’m surprised that you even posted this, Celeste, but you’re right about it. It’s a twisted view of justice when a kid can get expelled from grammar school under a zero tolerance policy simply for making a drawing of a gun, but a couple of gays in Hollywood get a pass for displaying the likeness of the murder of a Vice Presidential candidate and try to pass it off as art. The left is ruining this nation.

  • Halloween is a Pagan (aka Satan’s Christmas) holiday perpetuated by the American Dental Association.

  • “The left is ruining this nation.”


    Woody. Take off the blinkers. How in the world did you get there? The zero tolerance stuff with kids comes from the right as much as it does the left. (Particulary when, god forbid, they stop being little and cute. Then we don’t just want to expel them, we want to lock them up. In California if you tossed a baseball through a window, it used to be the kids just had to pay for the window. Now, thanks to our Propositon 21—all Republican driven—it’s a felony. And we’ve got a new and worse one on the ballot now—all Republican driven.)

    Oh, and the racist (by his own admission) creep in Ohio got the same pass as the WeHo guys. We call it the first amendment.

  • I’ve taken an unusual level of interest in this particular election; paying close attention to news accounts, compulsively following the campaigns, and poll results. And, I can’t remember an election cycle that I’m going to be happier to see end than this one. Maybe it’s the uniqueness of the candidates, but something has drawn out the absolute worst of the Americans with whom I share space.

    The effigy of Sarah Palin is wrong, wrong, wrong. It’s no good. It’s awful. If I lived anywhere near this individual I would risk arrest by cutting it down. At the very least I’d be having a serious talk with the homeowner. Because his choice invites this:

    via Andrew Sullivan

    Obama effigy found hanging from tree at UK [the University of Kentucky].

    It’s wrong. They’re all wrong.



  • There’s no doubt that if the Palin effigy had been Obama or a gay it would have been a “hate crime.” That extra penalty only applies when an act is directed towards a person “of color” or who’s gay, or a “minority religion” like Muslim or Jewish. We’ve seen how the Jamiel Shaw case got mired in whether it was a hate crime since a Latino killed a black person, but if the act was done because of gang affiliations and not race, it wouldn’t apply. Now this city is debating whether being homeless should be added to that list (after the horrific burning alive of a homeless man in Hollywood last month). This jerk in West Hollywood “knows” as much by saying he “knows” it would have been racist and hence a hate crime if he’d hung an Obama effigy. (Which of course he wouldn’t because that wouldn’t anyway.) So I can see what Antonovich is referring to with regard to the perceived hypocrisy here.

    Still, knowing Antonovich’s history, he’s using this as an excuse to pit conservative, suburban areas against the evil, liberal communities (where people are more likely to support Obama, or downright guaranteed to for fear of neighborhood reprisal), and is giving this idiot more attention and relevance than he deserves. The couple in question seem to actually enjoy the notoriety they’ve gotten, apparently figuring that any attention is better than none. They’ve done more to show that bigotry, intolerance and stupidity exists on both sides than anything Antonovich can do.

  • WBC, there have been similar things with Obama as the target (I linked to one), and they were not charged as hate crimes.
    But they are, qualitatively different from the person who spray paints swastikas on synagogues.

    And, as reasonable, people, we can see the difference.

    (For the record, I’m by and large, against hate crime laws, except for certain kinds of defacements, like the one I mentioned above, that are not covered adquately by existing law otherwise. But assaults and murders should be charged as assault and murders, not with a “hate crime” sentencing enhancements tacked on. Murder is quite hateful enough, thank you very much.)

  • Celeste, who is that man in the picture that appears to be coming out of the chimney? It looks a like Joe Lieberman, Senator from Connecticut.

  • Celeste, re: the case you linked to in Ohio: California has tougher “hate crime” statutes than the country as a whole and many states like Ohio, no? And there’s a different mind-set here, where people and officials are hyper-sensitive to race and gender-based crimes. So what I was saying is, IF a gay or black/ Latino were hung in effigy in this particular place, hate crimes laws would have been triggered.

    I think I agree with your take on hate crimes in general — an assault or murder on anyone of any race by anyone of any race should carry equal weight, no more and no less. (That seems to be the valid part of Antonovich’s comments, but then he pushes it to a divisive degree like he does most things, including his parochial opposition to Prop R/ transit tax for MTA projects.

  • That supervisor is an idiot – but my assumption is that as a woman Palin could get “equal protection” under a hate crimes statute. There’s a very simple way of dealing with this. Somebody needs – under cover of darkness – to just go cut the stupid thing down. It’s what we used to call “a Halloween prank” when I was growing up. Can’t believe nobody’s got the presence of mind or the balls to just unilaterally trash this piece of offensive junk. “Halloween fun” is surely fair game for…hu…”Halloween fun.”

  • As long as Bill O’Reilly blows hard on FOX, I’m all for Keith Olberman continuing his schtick as some sort of cosmic justice for cable junkies. But is that guy totally annoying or what ? What’s with the funny voice when he does his “Worst Person” routine – or when he imitates a rightwinger ? And the notion that some jerk who hangs a Halloween dummy in West Hollywood – or Bill O’Reilly for that matter on his worst day – is the “Worst Person in the World” when people are getting killed every day, trafficking in human beings exists, etc. etc. is just silly. Call them the most idiotic person or the biggest jerk or something. Olberman’s in-your-face persona doesn’t sustain much in the way of irony. He’s not as insane as the dimwits and blowhards on FOX, but his routine is insulting to any intelligent viewer IMHO. Rachel Maddow is also heavily tilted to “infotainment” and just as clearly coming from a fairly liberal,perspective, but she doesn’t make me feel embarrassed when I watch her.

  • AP
    LEXINGTON, Ky. – Authorities at the University of Kentucky are trying to find out who hung an effigy of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama on campus.

    College spokesman Carl Nathe said it was found hanging from a tree Wednesday morning. Police immediately took it down.

    School President Lee Todd says that he plans to personally apologize to the Obama family on behalf of the university and that he is “personally offended and deeply embarrassed by this disgusting episode.”

    It’s the second time an effigy has been found on a college campus recently. Earlier this week, George Fox University in Oregon said it was punishing four students who confessed to hanging a likeness of Obama from a tree.

  • It’s interesting that someone can be arrested for a “hate crime” for hanging a black person in effigy but not for hanging a woman in effigy.

    Celeste, Republicans in California must be very different than Republicans in the deep South. Just the same, the left is ruining the nation in most ways, including delaying the start of the World Series–truly an anti-American and selfish position.

    As a throw in, and despite your siding with the LAT on this, here’s what that liberal paper is doing.

    What is the L.A. Times Hiding?

    But there’s a video out there of Obama saying kind things about Khalidi, and on the general principle that information in an open society shouldn’t be kept secret and that the voters should make up their own minds about whether or not they trust certain candidates, this video should be set free. But a pro-censorship organization called the Los Angeles Times, which has the tape in its possession, is hiding it, for reasons it won’t fully explain. And it’s looking more and more ridiculous each passing day.

    There is another reason why the tape should be posted: It might actually create interest in the L.A. Times. From what I understand, the mainstream media is in a bit of trouble these days. Perhaps — this is just a thought here — the L.A. Times could better its position in the world by drawing readers to its website.

    Ahhh, let subscriptions keep dropping and the paper keep firing people until there’s nothing left of it.

  • Woody, how about getting back to us after you’ve had the surgery to remove your head from your boring ass. You’ve shot your wad and everyone is sick of you. Do you make a constant nuisance of yourself to family and friends ? Have you been this obnoxious since high school ? Because you seem like a too familiar adolescent character…

  • Re the World Series, John McCain has declared himself against both the free market and the First Amendment, with his latest idiotic pronouncement.

    “‘No one will delay the World Series with an infomercial when I’m president’,(McCain) said, in Hershey, Pa.

    (Fox executives have said that they, and not the Obama campaign, had initially asked Major League Baseball to move the start of Wednesday’s game to 8:35 p.m. from 8:20, to make way for his infomercial. But as it turns out, such a delay was not necessary anyway; none of the World Series games has started before 8:30, and two started after 8:35.)” NYT

  • News reports are clarifying that this incident isn’t a “hate crime” since there is no crime committed, but it IS “a hate incident,” something on private property which offends others, and an incident report is being filed by local and federal officials — that is, Sheriff’s Dept. and federal prosecutor’s office. Apparently to track these people in case of future incidents. (If the Palin effigy had been on someone else’s property then it could have been deemed “a hate crime” because vandalism would have occurred.)

    The bad taste of this dubious pair is evidenced by one of them wearing an Angelyne t-shirt in his tv interview, as though that will add to their credibility. (To those not from LA, she’s the ultimate self-promoting “star” famous for just self-promotion, pink clothes, pink car, stilettos and fake boobs… pink princess of the billboards for what must be decades now.) Sort of confirms my sense that this pair just wants to be famous at any cost and is enjoying this.

  • I dunno, WBC, the Angelyne T is so bad it’s possibly gone past the tipping point into good. Tough call.

    Listener, I love the high-heel race. Damn. And me stuck in the wrong coast for it!

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