What Would Mr. Rogers Think?

It’s the holiday season. Many Westporters hang wreaths on their doors. They string lights on trees or fences. Some place candles in every window.

Well, it’s also impeachment season. One Westporter has let his views be known. He lives at #1 High Point Road — the very first house, on the longest cul-de-sac in town. A neighbor writes:

Typically, this house displays a “God Bless President Trump” banner. Recently a new one was added: “Merry Christmas from President Trump.”

The  banners are an eyesore but harmless. The most recent one is offensive.

It says “Democrats, impeach this” — with an arrow pointing to a hand displaying the middle finger.

I drive past it no less than 6 times a day with my children. A neighbor has already talked to Town Hall. Their response was, “this is a civil matter. There is nothing that we can do.”

I know. It’s freedom of speech. But this has crossed over into being inappropriate and offensive.

“06880” wants to know: What do Westporters think? We all recognize and appreciate the First Amendment. Where does it intersect with neighborhood life? Is this actually inappropriate — or just aggravating, because the homeowner’s politics differ from his neighbor’s? Is the middle finger truly offensive, in this day and age? Westporters already display yard signs during election season — is this a valid extension of that, or somehow beyond the bounds of neighborly norms?

Feel free to weigh in on those questions. Please be civil, and do NOT veer into a discussion of the pros and cons of the impeachment issue itself — that’s not what this post is about. Comments not addressing the “neighborhood” issue above will be removed. And remember: All “06880” commenters must use full, real names. Thank you!

30 responses to “What Would Mr. Rogers Think?

  1. Charles Taylor

    You can’t legislate Taste nor Common Sense!

  2. Interesting times we live in, to say the least. While I have nothing negative to say about this resident’s political bias or their right to display signage in front of their home, there is the matter of the lack of taste and decorum as it relates to that middle finger image.

    It’s unnecessary and inappropriate, plain and simple. Let’s reduce the inflammatory rhetoric (visual and spoken) and we will all be the better for it.

  3. This particular sign is offensive. However, having had Trump election signs removed from my lawn several times in 2016! I think there are lots of other offensive political acts that are more offensive

  4. It’s probably legally-protected free speech. However, it is offensive, in appropriate for kids to see, and most important, divisive. There is no such thing as respectful disagreement any more.

  5. Impeachment is in defense of perceived violation(s) of the constitution. Free speech, albeit often offensive, is an integral part of that unique document, and one cannot pick and choose between what does and does not fit a particular political viewpoint .
    Unfortunately signs like this serve to further erode our civil discourse and sets a poor example for our kids.
    I would not ask the owner of the sign over for cocktails but we must all acknowledge his /her rights under the first amendment.

  6. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70 BA MA JDE

    I find it utterly deplorable.

  7. From seeing “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” I thin kMr. Rogers would say that person is in a world of pain and fear right now, about losing what he has or not getting what he thinks he deserves. Mr. Rogers would probably add him to his prayer list.

  8. Let them enjoy free speech while they still have it. Trump doesn’t truly believe in free speech any more than Putin or Mohammad bin Salman does.

    • Thank you, Ted.
      Your comment is both the most frightening and the most important of ’em all.

  9. What happened to the sign is disgraceful. We may disagree with each other politically, but must respect the rights of all individuals — especially our own neighbors—to have their own views, and express them on their own private property however they wish. As our country becomes more polarized and intolerant, why can’t Westport be the example of respect and decorum for others to emulate?

  10. Eric William Buchroeder SHS ‘70 BA MA JDE

    Ironic that the address is 1 “High Point” Rd.

  11. It’s hard to be upset about the middle finger and children being exposed to it when on their iPhone the middle finger emoji comes standard. The decline in decorum came long before our current President. Blame social media not the occupant of the White House.

  12. I wonder if the people clutching their pearls over a sign with a raised middle finger are also offended by the sight of a person wearing a “pink p-ssy hat”. Politics, throughout history, has always been nasty, vile, and brimming with hypocrites.

  13. It’s not what they are saying- it is how it is said
    Have pride in the party of your choice. Don’t make it ugly and embarrassing for all that love and have pride in where they live.

  14. It may be legal but it’s not entirely harmless to the neighbors. As a realtor I’ve driven potential Buyers to see properties on that street who have decided not to buy based on those signs.

  15. Anger; Public hostility like this display toward your neighbours is truly frightening. This is not a display about one’s opinion, this is a willingness to put neighbours on notice that a very hostile person lives here. Much is said about trickle-down effects. What does trickle-down is when a person in power enables and encourages anger & hostility. Ask yourself how mature & responsible could a person like this be.

  16. I think this house needs love and kindness. I’ll bring by Christmas cookies tomorrow. Maybe we all should?

  17. This person is entitled to express their political opinion however they wish as long as it is in a non-violent way. A yard sign as a platform for free speech is no different than network and cable news, Facebook, Twitter, college campuses and protests in the streets, all of which spew their messages in a similar tone and manner. Gone are the days when those on different sides of an issue would agree to disagree, but still respect the other’s opinion. Today, it’s I’m right and you’re wrong, along with a full dose of shade thrown in. Sad but true.

  18. John Terpening

    Maybe we should go back to colonial times in all aspects of dealing with this kind of situation. We collectively are a town, we collectively share the benefits (school system, beach, access to NYC, etc.), we collectively share the responsibility of raising of the children, and we collectively take responsibility of caring for our elderly. Hallmarks of a community, a small town. I would like to suggest that our Mayor (who represents the “collective” political community) and a group of clergy members (who represent the ” collective” moral and ethical community) visit the home owner, discuss all the various aspects of his or her signs and maybe come up with a creative solution to this where by the homeowner displays fifty American flags on their property ( which sends a message to those above the voting age) while not impacting the children in an adverse way. As a responsible adult community member we have a duty to uphold the values that protect the children. They are our future. They are watching and in twenty years they will be both voting and holding the keys to the “city”. Not to sound to “colonial” but we will only “reap” what we “sow”, from what I have seen in Westport and other places as well, if we plant weeds we will only get more weeds. Westport has always been the epicenter of creativity, artful problem solving, and invention lets see you do it again.

  19. A. David Wunsch

    I’m more disturbed by the predicament of a 4th grade teacher who tries to explain to a Black student, who brings in a newspaper article, why the President of the U.S. refers to the home of the child’s grandparents as a “shit hole country.”
    ADW Staples 1956

    • David J Loffredo

      We are less than a week away from 2020, so their 70 year old grandparents were born in 1950 – where exactly? Most likely here in the good old U S of A.

  20. Susan Feliciano

    I WISH THEY WOULD HAVE STUCK WITH THE “GOD BLESS PRESIDENT TRUMP” BANNER — and just end it there. But it obviously wouldn’t have gotten this attention … though still, not my cup of tea…

  21. Dan, Just curious why it’s okay to give the persons address but you choose to block license plates of parking offenders?

  22. Out here in the bluest of blue Portland, Oregon, what is becoming the norm is that similar signs posted here, like that in the photo, are shutting down what had been reasonable discourse. The D.T. has his advocates, but they seem less and less informed on and interested in talking about the issues at hand that are shaping — and mis-shaping — our country, and the government officials ignoring those issues in their blind-faith adherence to the D.T.’s Ts. (Tweets)

  23. Sandra Lefkowitz

    Why at this season of peace and joy would anyone want to be decisive? Makes no sense- but things don’t always.
    Happy holidays and a great year to all.

  24. James Sullivan

    The banner is offensive, and it’s hanger should see and hear the opinions from the community…but the banner should NOT be removed in my opinion.
    Also, I would argue (attn: Ted Friedman and Dan Katz) that sadly, colleges and universities have stifled free speech far more than this current president. Thankfully, RECENT legislation supporting free speech on campuses has been preventing students from grabbing mics from, assaulting, and shouting down people they disagree with, ripping down banners and signs, etc. And it was long overdue.