It is getting to the point in America where no one can say anything without it being a legal matter. Everyone is aware that calling a lady pretty or noticing someone’s skin tone is all but a mortal sin in the eyes of many, but now it seems that simply observing that something stinks can land a person in court, as Newser reports was the case in Iowa.
City officials got involved when the city’s website got a posting from Josh Harms that spoke his mind clearly. He claimed that Sibley, his hometown, has the scent of “rancid dog food,” which he had the right to opine. City leaders did not seem to understand the concept of the First Amendment, however, and felt differently. The ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) represented Harms and they “filed suit in US District Court earlier this month asking a judge to block Sibley officials from suing him.”
With demands that no official should ever have the authority to force on anyone, Harms was facing lawsuits for refusing to stop talking to reporters and complaining about “the odor problem from an animal food processing plant.”
With those facts being known, it can be reasoned that the big plant is paying a nice bunch of taxes and employing a lot of people, so they are getting a pass from officials who likely live nowhere near the blight.
The common man and woman are expected, as the threatened lawsuit implies, to simply be quiet or else!
On Thursday, a judge decided that no “harm” had been done and “approved a permanent injunction prohibiting city threats.” The city took this one on the chin and has to “pay Harms $6,500 in damages and $20,000 in legal fees.”
It seems that in some parts of America, violating a person’s free speech rights and then forcing them to pay in court to protect those rights is quite costly.
The city must also teach “free speech training” to those who work there. Those who tried to accuse the free speaker as a slanderer (or something similar) may not prevent Harms from opening the site, “www.sibleystinks.com,” either.
For the amount of money changing hands in courts, it can be reasoned that changes could have been made to prevent the plant from smelling so dreadful, but that was not to be.
Instead, even if the website proclaiming the horrid stench does go up, those living there are going to have an awful odor to deal with. At least now they are free to talk about it.