Saturday, February 28, 2009

Florida Bait Shop Fined for Displaying US Constitution


When Herb Quintero, owner of the Complete Angler, painted a game fish on his store, Clearwater, Fla. officials fined him for violating a ban on businesses that display a depiction of the product it sells.

So when they ordered Quintero to paint over it, he covered it with a banner instead. A banner that had the text of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution on it.

Quintero is now facing a $500 a day fine instead, instead of the $700 total he was already facing because the last thing Clearwater sign code enforcement officials like is a smartass. (Benito Mussolini is smiling from his special place in Hell.)

Now the American Civil Liberties Union is suing the city of Clearwater in federal court for violating Quintero's First Amendment rights.

“Only in Florida could a business owner be targeted and fined for displaying artwork; and then in protest of the fine, display the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution—and then be ticketed for that,” Howard Simon, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, told the St. Petersburg Times.

City officials said they were only enforcing their strict -- some might say unreasonable. No? How about Draconian? Nazi? Fascist? -- rules and weren't concerned about the content of the sign.

What about ironic? Failing to grasp the message? Idiotic? Unconstitutional?

I know. "Soon to change."

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