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The PJ Tatler

Stephen Green


June 27, 2013 - 4:49 am

News from the Left Coast:

Jeff Olson, the 40-year-old man who is being prosecuted for scrawling anti-megabank messages on sidewalks in water-soluble chalk last year now faces a 13-year jail sentence. A judge has barred his attorney from mentioning freedom of speech during trial.

According to the San Diego Reader, which reported on Tuesday that a judge had opted to prevent Olson’s attorney from “mentioning the First Amendment, free speech, free expression, public forum, expressive conduct, or political speech during the trial,” Olson must now stand trial for on 13 counts of vandalism.

It’s not often I find myself defending an Occupier, but the potential punishment, the judge’s restrictions… outrageous.

Stephen Green began blogging at in early 2002, and has served as PJMedia's Denver editor since 2008. He's one of the hosts on PJTV, and one-third of PJTV's Trifecta team with Scott Ott and Bill Whittle. Steve lives with his wife and sons in the hills and woods of Monument, Colorado, where he enjoys the occasional lovely adult beverage.

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At the very least, this is selective enforcement of the law. The water-soluble chalk is specifically manufactured for the purpose of scrawling messages and images on public sidewalks. How many little kids have they hauled in and prosecuted for this heinous offense?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
In a sane world, any prosecution for graffiti should have nothing to do with free speech. I don't object to graffiti because the "artist" is expressing his views about something, I object to the fact that he is doing it on someone else's property.

The back of my old mechanic's shop was extensively covered with graffiti which cost him a great deal to remove, costs that inevitably got passed on to his customers, even though they didn't do the graffiti. His shop was private property and the back of it wasn't in public view unless we want to define public view as anything visible to people who were willing to trespass on his property. There was nowhere else from which you could view it; it was NOT acting as a billboard that would be visible to large numbers of people.

My neighborhood is gradually getting festooned with graffiti. The walls of private buildings, mailboxes, fences bordering on public walkways and various other sites are being polluted with this nonsense. There is rarely a comprehensible thought presented in this "art"; most of it seems to be stylized initials of the individual taking "credit" for this alleged "art". It is almost uniformly ugly in the extreme.

The people doing the graffiti are not indulging in free speech, they are practicing the ancient crime of vandalism. Criminal charges should be based on THAT. Free speech is not even a factor.

If they did this graffiti on their own walls, fences, and garage doors and then got charged for it, they would have legitimate grounds for claiming a violation of their First Amendment rights. As long as they are doing the graffiti on OTHER people's property, they are indulged in vandalism, pure and simple.

Don't shelter these scribblers under the First Amendment's umbrella. They are destroyers of property, not speakers of truth.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
It was chalk.
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
Isn't da judge violating Jeff Olson's first amendment rights in ruling that he cannot mention "the First Amendment, free speech, free expression..." etc.

It's obvious that he is, I know, but there ought to be some justice in justice - ya know whatta I mean?
1 year ago
1 year ago Link To Comment
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