No Free Speech in Ohio

Zombie NativityIt’s times like this that I wish I still had time for the podcast, when good time-sensitive stories like this pop up and I’m already working on stories for February.  Ah well, plug it in on an empty day!

Just outside of Cincinnati, Ohio, Jasen Dixon put up a nativity scene outside of his home.  That’s probably like millions of other homes, but this was a bit different.  It was a zombie nativity scene.  Dixon runs a local haunted house and it ought to come as no surprise that he’d be apt to put up that kind of display.  Police came along and ordered him to take it down because, in theory, it violates a local ordnance and it also pissed off some of his neighbors.

Zombie JesusNow I’m not saying he might not  be violating the ordnance, but if he is, then there can be no outdoor nativity scenes in any yard in town.  If he’s been singled out, the police are just asking for a massive lawsuit that they cannot possibly win.  Jasen has the right to free speech on his property, just like everyone else.  If these officers had bothered to discuss this with their legal department, I’m pretty sure they’re lawyers would have beat them over the head with a law book for even suggesting such a thing.  It’s equal treatment for all or none, you don’t get to pick and choose based on the local dominant superstition.

Of course, Christians don’t get this and in much of the rest of the world, neither do Muslims.  They think they get to dictate what everyone sees.  In most of the U.S., at least, that’s simply not the case, although it never stops them from giving it the old college try.

Jasen has until Friday to remove the display, which means it makes it through Christmas, which I’m sure was the whole point in the first place.  That gives him time to take it down, then sue the city for abridging his civil rights.  I’d be out and about the town with a tape measure, making sure that every single other nativity scene and front yard display in the area was exactly the right size.  You can’t censor for content.  I’m willing to bet he’s not alone.  Ka-ching!

 

3 thoughts on “No Free Speech in Ohio

  1. "Now I’m not saying he might not be violating the ordnance, but if he is, then there can be no outdoor nativity scenes in any yard in town."

    I agree that the demand that Jasen take down his zombie nativity is wrong. But you are wrong to claim that if Jasen's nativity is a violation of Cincinnati zoning laws then all nativities on private property in the city are also in violation. Did you bother to read the actual zoning ordinance?. If you did, then it should have been obvious to you that your statement that "there can be no outdoor nativity scenes in any yard in town" is flat-out wrong. The zoning statute in question states "No accessory use or structure shall be located in the front or side yard and the total combined area of all accessory structures shall not occupy more than thirty five (35%) percent of the required area of the rear yard." (The remainder of the ordinance can be read at Jasen's Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/jasendixonofficial.) A correct reading of this ordinance clearly permits a nativity scene so long as it is in the back yard and occupies no more than 35% of the yard area.

    The ordinance permits a nativity scene in the front or side yard as long as the main house is at least 200-feet from the right-of-way and the "accessory structure" (in this case the nativity scene) is at least 100 feet from the right-of-way. You should have done a better job of checking your facts before making the statement that if Jasen's nativity violates the city zoning ordinance then all nativities erected on private property in Cincinnati must likewise violate the ordinance. This is clearly incorrect.

    1. That's why I said he should take a tape measure out and make sure that any of the other displays aren't likewise violating the ordnance. If he's violating the rules, he deserves the consequences, but they should only come because the laws are being equally applied to all, not because he's pissing off the dominant religious group. Next year, he should make sure that his display follows the letter of the law and see if he gets bothered.

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