Wall scrawl: City censors image on free speech monument

Did the City recently violate the First Amendment that its own free speech monument was designed to honor? A prominent constitutional attorney thinks so. 

Last week, a rather Picasso-esque image of an erect phallus protruding from a nude female form covered the words of the First Amendment on the wall, and beside it an editorial advising people to "f**k the cops" lingered for several days. However, a complaint from a citizen prompted city officials to remove the sexual image.

"It’s one of at least three lewd images we’ve dealt with in the last two weeks," says City Manager Maurice Jones, who admits he asked a city parks and rec crew to remove the image after the citizen complaint. "I asked to have this image erased because of the graphic nature of the drawing."

However, when City officials endorsed the construction of the the community chalkboard and podium several years ago, they should have expected this, according to Constitutional scholar John Whitehead.

"Now, if the artist wanted to sue," says Whitehead, who runs a civil rights group called the the Rutherford Institute, "he or she would have a case."

Indeed, Josh Wheeler, executive director of the Thomas Jefferson Center for Free Expression, which built the wall in 2006, explains that the Center cleans the wall twice a week for practical purposes, but that the City, i.e. the government, is constrained by the First Amendment from removing messages there simply because they do not like the message.

Apparently, Jones didn't get the memo.

"If a city employee was ordered to take down an image, that action potentially raises a First Amendment issue," says Wheeler, adding that he'd been assured by city officials that they have no policy regarding offensive monument messages.

"What occurred here appears to have been a mistake," Wheeler says.

However, it may be a mistake that's been repeated.

"We don’t have a general policy concerning the removal of these types of images, although I believe we have responded to complaints in the past," says Jones. "In this case, the decision was made by me."

Charlottesville resident Kevin Cox, who walks by the wall on his way to work, also contends that the city violated the First Amendment– even though he was the one who complained about the image.

Cox has been a vocal critic of the wall, which he characterizes as a "glorified bathroom stall." He alleges that if he were to stand on the Mall with a drawing of a penis, or hold up a sign during a city council meeting that said "f**k the police," there's a good chance he'd be hauled off by the police.

Some time ago, citizen Cox armed himself with a toilet brush and began removing bawdy images on the part of the wall engraved with the First Amendment's text. Cox called on the TJ Center to somehow protect the engraved words, but Wheeler– while noting that citizens can remove anything– decided not to intervene.

"The purpose of the First Amendment is to protect the minority against the majority," says Whitehead, "exactly the kind of people who put up lewd stuff like that." Cox, however, insists that the wall trivializes the precious right to free speech.

"It's a failure in design, use, and management," says Cox. "It does not educate and provide a forum for meaningful expression."

Cox cites the recent jab at the police and an image of a five-foot phallus he recently saw drawn on the bricks.

"What does that say to tourists about our city when they visit the Mall?" asks Cox. Jones, too, says he found what was written on the wall "highly disrespectful."

While Whitehead and Cox might agree that the City violated the First Amendment, Cox thinks the incident makes the City and the TJ Center look like hypocrites for endorsing a bad idea, while Whitehead thinks it amounts to government censorship of a good one.

For Whitehead, the wall captures the true meaning of free speech: free, messy, provocative, controversial, and available to anyone. For instance, he thinks the recent jab at the police is a sign that the wall is functioning as intended.

"It's either a free speech wall or it isn't," says Whitehead. "If they're going to start censoring it, they should just bulldoze it."

Whitehead suggests there's a big difference between the wall and council chambers: the wall was officially designated to facilitate free speech.

"People like myself, Mr. Cox, or Mr. Jones might have no reason to be angry with the police," says Whitehead, "but others might have very legitimate reasons for hating the police."

And as for sexual images, Whitehead points out that art museums around the world are filled with them.

"If people don't like the images," advises Whitehead, "they should just turn away."

"That's the fun and risk of the wall," says City Councilor Holly Edwards, who takes a  philosophical approach to the controversy. "It's a blessing and a burden."

While Edwards wants people upset by such images to be acknowledged, she points out that these drawings are a larger reflection of where a person is at that moment.

"No one can control that," she says. "Each drawing has to be judged on its own merit.

"If I was walking past with my 15-year-old twin girls, I would say, "Oh my, that drawing is sexist and inappropriate," continues Edwards, "and we would have a discussion about empowering women. But if I walked past with my 5-year-old twin girls I would say, "Oh my, what a pretty flower, and we would have a completely different discussion about art and being creative."

Updated 2/15

103 comments

Well that's just stupid. People can't go around drawing obscene pictures in a public place. In a theater or a museum you have choice to go in and look or not.
If somebody wrote a racist remark on the wall I'm sure nobody would be complaining about First Amendment rights for that.

Isn't it also free speech to remove what someone else has written? If i remember correctly the wall was meant to emulate a similar online version, that allowed people to both write and erase from the free speech area. It is absurd to think that once something has been written on the wall it needs to live there forever. The great thing about this country is that people can say or write what ever they want, but that doesn't mean that i cannot speak over you or erase what you have written.

I am guessing that the Rutherford institute's main complaint is that the city was the one doing the erasing, and that is a slippery slope. I would counter that with the fact that the city only erased it after they received a complaint. Because there was no functional way for the citizen to erase it themselves, the city acted on their behalf to erase something they wanted removed. Personally, i think the city should provide both chalk and erasers so a true back and forth can occur. I know i would have removed things if it was as simple as adding them.

WWTJD?

Well, free speech is all very well, but only within the bounds of good taste.

I believe that what's needed here is a monitor, who will impartially judge what's offensive and what's not, and keep the free speech within sensible bounds.

I would be happy to serve in this capacity.

oh, go eat some babies, swift! :)

"A monitor to decide what is offensive and what's not"? Are you kidding me? Will that monitor be a southern baptist preacher? Or maybe a follower of Larry Flint? Two different perspectives there huh? So @j. Swift, who would you like to impose their morality on you? That would be a fun freedom of speech experiment. Frankly I find your post offensive and would like to have it erased.

Mr. Decider:

Yes, I quite agree with you: I don't think that either of those two occupations that you mention (preacher or pornographer) would be a good choice for the office of Free-Speech Monitor. I think we need someone with a balanced, sensible view about what's *tasteful* free speech, or art, or what have you.

Someone like ME, for example.

If the purpose of the First Amendment is to protect the minority against the majority, I think removal of the editorial advising people to "f**k the cops" was removed properly. In the past decade I have seen bank presidents, nurses, attorneys, doctors, teachers, firemen, magistrates, etc... echo this phrase more and more. It's not just a phrase that only the wannabe gangstas around town subscribe to nowadays. And the majority will continue to grow until the chiefs and sheriffs get their rookies and veteran loose cannons under control. And most upsetting to me personally, some of these veteran loose cannons now supervise the rookies.

Because there was no functional way for the citizen to erase it themselves?

Huh?

If a person is there at the wall reading it, why would they not be capable of erasing it?

NOTE: the editorial about the police was not removed by the city, only the image of the "pretty flower."

Dave

Oh goody, Charlottesville's self-styled hall monitor strikes again. Cox lives to kvetch. So he acknowledges he was the one that complained (no surprise there), but is now also complaining that the city violated the First Amendment in responding to his complaint? Now that's chutzpah!

If he doesn't like a message or image, he can always erase it himself, as can any person, at any time. Problem solved.

TJ is laughing at you (again), Charlottesville. The wall was dumber than a bucket of spit when it was conceived, and this sort of incident demonstrates why. The First Amendment exists to protect and promote public discourse without government interference. A public chalk board that invites vapid vulgarities and pornographic images is *not* public discourse.

And what's with Mr. Whitehead touting free speech zones? I thought he has fought AGAINST such zones at universities? Hmmmmmm?

The solution to this problem is to install a motion activated camera with built in graphic and lexical sensitivity to operate a green, yellow, or red light depending the offensiveness of the thought or image produced. When citizens with more freedom than judgment decorate the wall with questionable sentiments or images having no socially redeeming value, the camera could then snap pictures of those who keep writing or drawing when the light changes from green to yellow and then red and sends the miscreant a citation through the mail.

@Gasbag: am i wrong, are there erasers there? Most people are not going to try to erase the board with their hand, which doesn't work well with that kind of chalk to begin with or their clothes. To me the simple answer is to provide a simple way to erase items from the board.

@Wag:

Your suggestion makes perfect sense, and I see nothing that could go wrong with it. I retract my self-nomination for monitor.

Oops, has "the cult of personality", a.k.a. Saint Maurice tiptoed through his first steaming pile? Back off, because he gets upset when people don't like him.

So a grown man walks around with a toilet brush to scrub off images or phrases he finds offensive and we don't have a photo of this? Can we commission a photo of Mr. Cox with his toilet brush?

Is hate speech also covered under First Amendment? So if I wrote "Hitler is great" or "Holocaust is a farce" would that be protected?

Dave, thanks for the clarification. My reading finger must have been out of order yesterday, I thought the "f**k the police" image had been removed by the city as well.

AJ, your examples are indeed protected free speech.

A few clarifications:

GSOE: I've since found out that the editorial concerning the police appeared in several places on the wall, including the bricks. What is written on the bricks can be removed by the city.

AJ: Not necessarily. There are certain restrictions on free speech that might give the TJ Center the right to remove them; speech that incites violence, child pornography, etc. However, an important feature of the wall is that citizens can remove such things if they find them objectionable. But the main thing: the government is not allowed to removed things from the wall.

Col. Forbin: You're missing Mr. Cox's point. He objected not to the images themselves, but to images and text being drawn and written over the words of the First Amendment. That's what he used his toilet brush for, as a way to protest. As Mr. Cox himself says, "I'm all for the right of people to burn the flag, I just don't believe the government should be handing out flags and matches."

Col. Forbin,
My brush and I have already had our pictures in The Hook.
I was cleaning everything off of the engravings of the First Amendment and the quote from Thurgood Marshall so that people could actually read them. The content did not influence me. I cleaned the engravings so that they could be read. I have never removed anything else off of the chalkboard, including the pun, "Kevin sucks cox."
Cordially,
Kevin Cox

If city officials want things erased, what's to stop them from dropping by on their lunch break to "unofficially" do it?

Dave,

My point exactly. To say "Holocaust is a Lie" is not threatening violence or harm, it is an opinion, but it would offend certain group of people. Similarly drawing of an erect phallus from a nude female might offend another group of people. So free speech is either really free speech or it isn't. So either the TJ center/city/administration doesn't intervene at all in all forms of non-threatening related displays or it does. They can't pick and choose. They please all or they please none.

I understand that public can erase anything they want.

Thank you, Dave and Kevin. You made my day. :D

AJ: here's an excerpt from a more detailed story I did on the creation of the wall: http://www.readthehook.com/files/old/stories/2005/06/23/coverWritingOnTh...

Wheeler, however, explains that there are limitations to free speech. "It needs to be stressed that the U.S. Supreme Court has determined that certain categories of speech do not fall under the First Amendment's protection," he says. "Among those are threats of violence, expression both intended and likely to incite others to commit imminent illegal acts, and speech likely to provoke an immediate violent response from the person to whom it is directed. " That's the old "crying fire in a crowded theater" scenario.

"Anyone engaging in those kinds of expression at the monument or elsewhere could be charged and prosecuted," he adds.

Wheeler concedes that the issue of profanity on the wall is a legitimate concern. "But it's one we feel is far worse in the abstract than it will be in reality," he says.

Only in Cville-or like.Somewhere (maybe even cville) people have real problems,even real problems with expression (china). Meanwhile this waste time play, including the waste of time and money to build this adult blackboard in the first place,Cville - ville de idle rich. Write that up.

The free speech wall is a beautiful, ingenious monument to one of the cornerstones of democracy. When the weather is nice I take my two small children down there regularly to write and draw on it. They get a chance to be creative and learn something about civics at the same time. We bring our own chalk and rags and spray bottles full of water and we "go to town" literally and figuratively.

I can't remember ever having seen anything on the wall that I needed to shield them from, and -- given the limitations of the medium -- it's hard to imagine that I would. Stick figures in obscene postures? Dirty words? In my experience, they are far more likely to see these in bathroom stalls than on the free speech monument, and worst case, I get an opportunity to be there to give them some context or guidance. If, as a private citizen, you object to something you see there, you can express your objection yourself with one swipe with a chunk of chalk, conveniently provided.

This particular instance of censorship is hilarious. How can anyone even tell what that thing is? You have to have a dirty mind to recognize it as anything dirty. I asked my son what he thought it was, and he said "a rainbow apple." So there you go. I think it looks a bit like a cross section of a bell pepper myself.

I am sure that there are more objectionable images and phrases from time to time, but that is the price we pay for free expression. Until you understand this, you understand nothing. If you have trouble believing this, I recommend this excellent speech by Christopher Hitchens. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3Hg-Y7MugU

Here's some free speech that was delivered to UVA President Sullivan's office yesterday afternoon:

www.uvalies.org/initiative

James Turner and Leonard Sandridge need to resign.

It looks like the people have spoken regarding "the cult of personality's" autocratic censorship decision, and they're saying..."Rookie Move!"

Browning Porter's comment is spot on. And Sean Cannan really wants attention!

Yup, Sean's a close second to the nanoparticle dude in that regard (if they aren't actually one and the same). Wonder if his "initiative" has his trademark references to sharing his bed with coeds. Don't wonder enough to bother reading it though. Snooze....

As with the cover up of Planned Parenthood on Hydraulic Road being caught trying to pimp out 14 year old girls and share in the profits of child sex trafficking, the local C-Ville media will desperately try to keep the Human Rights and Scientific Honesty Initiative a secret also. They still somehow think that this will have a similar effect in the General Assembly, the office of President Sullivan, or in the courtrooms of Virginia. They don't really grasp their own irrelevance.

Too bad for them that the Albemarle County Police will not be changing their story with regard to the creeps at Planned Parenthood never contacting them. Nor will the Virginia Board of Medicine be changing any of the laws governing medicine in Virginia to bail Sandridge and Turner out for their two decades of disseminating woeful medical misinformation at UVA. Nor will the Governor, the Attorney General, or the majority whip for the State House of Delegates suddenly become different people.

So I suggest you get used to the idea of us winning here quite quickly, then moving on to VCU and futher afield. Even a tiny spark of truth can burn down a city of lies.

Dude, write it on the wall and see if anyone cares. I really doubt it. It isn't the media that is keeping your message a secret. Hell, you have gone on any number of off topic rants on any number of different Hook articles with nothing approaching censorship in response. It's both the message and it's deliverer that fail to interest the general public.

Sorry for the third apostrophe. I get flustered sometimes when I respond to idjits.

The Hook has been blocking Sean's posts for months, and that was after deleting several of them. He and Kelsey Hazzard delivered the Initiative yesterday to President's Sullivan's office. She was in Richmond lobbying - as was Sean a few days before - so her Chief of Staff Nancy Rivers accepted the document on her behalf during a cordial meeting.

There is no need for us to be writing anything on a wall anywhere. Consider our posts in this thread to be your public service announcement instead. And we have no need for any local media coverage either. With sources such as Live Action and Jill Stanek, we have our own media anyway. Just last week, we helped Live Action with the story they posted covering the details of the Charlottesville Planned Parenthood sting, and how there was no attempt on their part to contact local law enforcement following a visit from what they thought was a pimp running a local child sex ring. Live action and Jill Stanek both have a readership exponentially higher in numbers than all the C-Ville media outlets combined.

One of our Initiative's signatories is a former Planned Parenthood activist and employee. Our own local Abby Johnson, if you will. None other than Cecile Richards (national PP leader) asked her recently to help coordinate their "response" to the Live Action stings across Virginia. She referred Cecile to our Initiative instead. Later that day, she got a rather frantic message from Tarina Keene (NARAL Virginia) asking her what the hell her name was doing on our initiative. Apparently, these two didn't get the memo.. and their desperation was evident. They are running about like headless chickens at present trying to defend the indefensible.

Sandridge and Turner will also be getting their feet in motion soon enough.

It's going to be a great Spring here in Charlottesville.

Boo-ya!

Human Rights,

Since you say you don't need the press, can you please refrain from hijacking this thread with comments so loosely connected with the subject of this article.

Thanks

"The Hook has been blocking Sean's posts for months, and that was after deleting several of them."

Couldn't be because you repeatedly name-called, offended, or made ignorant, uninformed statements about a variety of subjects around town?

At least your initiative/research paper actually has some documented, scientific facts in it. Even then, it's not complete facts ("We also SUSPECT that UVA student health insurance funds are being used to finance elective abortions, and request clarification on this issue from UVA").

Yes, I actually read your paper. Interesting stuff. You know what would help your cause? Not verbally sparring with every single poster on a comment board who disagrees with you. Not picking fights with UVA students who write opinion articles for an amateur-quality college newspaper (on literally almost every article). Not being an obnoxious jacka$$ with anyone who disagrees with you. Not using incredible over-generalizations for the Charlottesville population/media/UVA students. If you actually spoke in a reasonable, cordial tone, people would be way more willing to listen to you.

The postings here, and the letter sent to the UVa president, by Human Rights (an interesting choice of on-screen names) illustrate well that the 1st Amendment protects the dissemination of propaganda and misinformation.

"If people don't like the images," advises Whitehead, "they should just turn away."

Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa!!! I got an issue with this...if at my workplace a "girlie" calendar is in my coworker's office, I can request he/she take it down because it is OFFENSIVE to me....if it's not done, then HR can MAKE him/her take it down. I am not a lawyer, but seems that if I walk by this wall everyday and that is ON the wall and is OFFENSIVE to me, then it is sexual harrassment....now I could really care less what they put on the wall, I would definitley not look at what I found offensive....but with all the law makers coming up with the gru-ha-ha they call laws, time for a recheck on the whole cassaba!!

So did the drawing actually rise, as it were, to the level of art? If someone took a picture of it maybe we could submit it to a respected local art critic for a writeup in the Hook.

Simoni,
Sure it's art. Whether it's art you like or would call good art is another matter. To see the image and decide for yourself click on the number 2 beneath the image at the top of this page.
Cordially,
Kevin Cox

The wall shouldn't have been built in the first place. Everyone knew the consequences. It was another waste of money, another unoriginal idea, an eyesore & just plain stupid. I found this on cvillenews.com regarding censorship of the wall...

Apr 20th, 2006 at 8:55 pm
I really doubt that there will be much censoring at all. Some people will erase posts to create space for their own graffiti but most people are just not going to be interested enough to care and they aren’t going to want to get chalk all over their hands. Who knows, it may get covered up with graffiti so fast that the center will actually provide erasers to keep things flowing. I think the chalkboard is really pretty damn silly and not worthy of being designated as a monument to free speech. It probably won’t survive the test of time.

It seems kind of strange though, that the TJ Center put so much time and money into it. It’s their money so they can do what they want to with it but aren’t there any worthwhile cases that need legal fees paid?"
Kevin Cox
http://cvillenews.com/2006/04/20/chalkboard-unveiled/

I don't get it. Why would anyone be offended by an "f" followed by two asterisks and then a "k"?

Boy, freedom sure is messy! But I wouldn't have it any other way.

Every media organization in Charlottesville can completely ignore the two biggest stories in town if they so choose. Won't affect the results one iota.

Charlottesville media actively defending the indefensible - child sex trafficking at a tax funded national organization, and institutional medical misinformation at a university medical center - is not going to affect the legislative or legal ramifications for those so involved. The sky will not become green and the grass blue because the Charlottesville media says so. Science and medical ethics will prevail regardless of how eager they are to cover them.

Every burned book enlightens the world. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
Our opponents are beginning this chess game with a king and a couple of pawns. We'll see who wins. All of us will.

Mr. Whitehead's a stooge. He even said he liked Bill Clinton. FNFOB

THIS is what the local citizenry chooses to blow out of proportion.

The people of Cairo were fighting for freedom. People upset over this tempest in a teapot are being petty.

There are far greater violations of our rights than this. Don't delude yourselves into believing that worrying about some chalk on a rock makes you a better American. Rather, you are finding a convenient outlet for umbrage so that more worthy causes can remain ignored.

Kevin: You go, guy! Let me know when your toilet brush wears out and I'll send you another one. (BTW, from an aesthetic approach, the wall is UGLY!)

The wall isn't ugly. It is, literally, a blank slate. It as only as ugly or as beautiful as we choose to make it. I thought it was rather beautiful this past summer when local children working with local artists designed their own mural depicting stories from their own lives and from the history of their community. http://vimeo.com/13924219 I wish it saw more use of this nature, but there is nothing to prevent that from happening more often. I think perhaps we haven't yet learned to make the most of it. That's why I started personally to try to do so. My kids and I have gotten far more enjoyment out of it than we ever did the unfortunate McGuffey playground. For us, the monument is a public playground for the imagination and the intellect, and it could be for anyone else who wanted it to be so. That, you might say, is the beauty of it.

Is it a waste of money? Sure. Like all playgrounds, and parks, and museums, and auditoriums, and libraries, and athletic fields, and public monuments are wastes of money. Perhaps if we could rid ourselves of these cultural parasites, then our lives of commerce and consumption could be managed much more efficiently, and we would not have to be distracted from our comfortable solipsism by the irritating presence of our neighbors. With a little luck, we might never need to see or think about them at all.

But if we must have monuments, maybe they could serve as something more than ignorable ornaments to our civic life. They might, for example, require us from time to time to think and talk about the very values they claim to symbolize. Such as: is the right to free speech worth having if it predictably results in our encountering speech that we don't like? Isn't it possible -- surely it must be! -- to have a free speech made safe by government who will only curtail it when absolutely necessary, such as when a squiggle of chalk might make a passerby feel angry or embarrassed? These are good questions, and it might even be useful for us to reconsider them from time to time. It might even be worth something.

What I find to be particularly galling about this is that despite being clearly in error, Jones hasn't been man enough to issue an apology yet and there has been no move to assure the public that his gaff in this instance will never be repeated.

@ cookiejar

If that's all it takes to "gall" you then you really need to get out of the house more often.

Typical exagerrated drama queen speak from what sounds to me like over 40, rich or upper middle class white people in Cville that have waaaaaaaaaaaay too much time on their hands.

Is it possible that the Hook could install and operate a webcam on the wall? It could be interesting.

I'm with Boo on this one.

Browning Porter has left a nice comment. But somehow the inadvertent removal of a chalk scribbling is a little too easily leading to this oh-so profound discussion of our civic values. Honestly, there are FAR greater injustices happening every day, right here in Charlottesville.

No one is for censorship. People have commented that they have seen far worse images and words on the free speech wall and the city hasn't washed them off.

To try to turn the hasty decision to swipe an insignificant drawing into a "legal morass" and demand that the city immediately issue a policy forbidding such hasty swiping or rather TEAR DOWN THAT WALL (as Waldo Jaquith laughingly does at cvillenews) is really over the top.

Maurice Jones would be wise to completely ignore this hullabulloo. Maybe don't be so quick to have the wall washed next time, but addressing this psuedo-controversy is beneath the demands of his office.

re:"Now, if the artist wanted to sue," says Whitehead, who runs a civil rights group called the the Rutherford Institute, "he or she would have a case."

And what would be the damages? What. A. Joke.

If in the stealth of the night someone wrote..."Blow up City Hall!" How long would it take for an issue of free speech to be debated by the local police?

"About this censorious instinct: we basically know already what we need to know, and we’ve known it for a long time, it comes from an old story about another great Englishman – sorry to sound particular about that this evening – Dr Samuel Johnson, the great lexicographer, compiler of the first great dictionary of the English language. When it was complete Dr Johnson was waited upon by various delegations of people to congratulate him. Of the nobility, of equality, of the Common, of the Lords and also by a delegation of respectable ladies of London who attended on him in his Fleet Street lodgings and congratulated him.

“Dr Johnson”, they said, “We are delighted to find that you’ve not included any indecent or obscene words in your dictionary.”

“Ladies”, said Dr Johnson, “I congratulate you on being able to look them up.”

They should put nano-bots in the chalk. When bad guys write bad stuff, the nano-bots could go to work and force the offenders to walk themselves to the police station and confess. It just makes sense!

"When bad guys write bad stuff". You should put get piece of nanobot chalk and stick it where the sun don't shine!

ok just to say i don't understand why this concerend person couldn't just turn around and walk away. people do not have to look at the image if they don't want to, it was that guys right to put down what ever he wanted.

Instead of all of you sitting here arguing about the issue why not go to the City Officials yourselves and do something about it?

I think that the whole point of the wall is to be able to say what you want, hence free speech. At the same time, the obscenities come with the territories. If you put up a wall where you can write/draw whatever you like, you must realize that someone will take it to a higher level and try to break the "rules." I dont think that the "flower" was necessarily a smart decision, but if they want to write it, technically, no one can stop them. If people are having many problems with it, simply take the wall down. But as I mentioned before, I dont think the obscene drawings and writings should be encouraged. I think giving the drawing all this publicity will probably fuel the fire; causing other people to follow in the artist's foot steps.

I AGREE WITH THE NANOBOT CHALK SAYING!! AND I LOVE TAHOES AND GAS GUZZLING CARS!! I DON'T LIKE WHOLE FOODS!! GO AMERICA!!

I agree with ridiculing nanobots,.. because hes funny... god bless america... i dont like whole foods... our priuses...

MHS i agree the person had a right to draw that, but im also sure a few people might enjoy that drawing, if you are not mature enough to look at the flowerd don't look

I think that if this is the worst we get for our freedom of speech, then its worth it. It's a heck of a lot of fun to draw on the wall and if dummys want to be immature then let them go for it.

I think that if this is the worst we get for our freedom of speech, then its worth it. It's a heck of a lot of fun to draw on the wall and if dummys want to be immature then let them go for it.

i eatz babies

i eat nazis

PENIS!

Heyy uhm, this is kinda stupid, i mean just go suck a bigggg DICKKK(;

I feel the drawing was unnessessary, but it's part of the human body... so why be ashamed??????

penis!

I mean if the wall weren't there. I might go 'nuts' and draw a wiener on the side of an office building. I think thats WAY worse. you cant wash that 'junk' off.

i believe that they had a right to wash the picture off the wall, because kids see that picture and it might disturb them, people might feel harrassed by the picture, or the downtown mall might have less customers than normal becuase of it. this picture even disturbs me, girl in highschool, because i feel harassed from what i see in the picture. i know that other people might think differently of the picture, but to me, its just wrong. i also know you guys might think that the only reason that i think its wrong is because im in highschool, and all hichschoolers are usually perverted, but really im a normal girl and this picture scares me. i think they did the right thing by washing it off the wall.

HEY MHS! I agree with you that the wall was built for the purposes of free speech but I doubt that ANYONE would ever encourage obscene drawings! And also "if people are having many problems with it, simply take the wall down" would NOT be a solution to the problem because this wall is a symbol of free speech! It is a way for people to artistically express themselves.

I agree with joyce. people should know better, since most of us are mature. However, some people have beahvior issues. Although, it could have been a flower, or even something drawn by a toddler.
Holly Urban

This article and its comments gave rise to some great debate in my ninth grade English classes today. We read the facts, followed by some finely crafted arguments defending each side of the issue. Some students posted thoughtful responses, and others goofed off -- and this is the way the Free Speech wall is used, on any given day. Giving free access to public expression does carry risks (obviously!). But the rewards -- feeling part of a larger community, being invited into a larger conversation -- are powerful as well.

This article and its comments gave rise to some great debate in my ninth grade English classes today. We read the facts, followed by some finely crafted arguments defending each side of the issue. Some students posted thoughtful responses, and others goofed off -- and this is the way the Free Speech wall is used, on any given day. Giving free access to public expression does carry risks (obviously!). But the rewards -- feeling part of a larger community, being invited into a larger conversation -- are powerful as well.

They're takin our jobs! Hell.

I completely agree with Mr. Whitehead, having worked at The Rutherford Institute with Mr. JW, The wall was put up for free speech intentions, and the city should have known, like Mr. Whitehead said, its messy, provocative, controversial and that is what free speech represents. Its your right as an american citizen to say what you believe and how you feel. The city of Charlottesville worries so much about its image and what out of towner's will think, then dont put the wall up! How about focusing on finishing the meadowcreek parkway!

It's the human body so get over it!!!!

dont forget the jesus comments on the wall and how much they hate god. i know some people are non-beleavers but have some respect.

well i think this discussion is stupid, if the wall is meant for free speech don't get mad when somebody makes something that you think is inappropriate, maybe you should have set some roles you dumb ass's

oops i spelled believe wrong

deleted by moderator

It looks just like a frickn flower!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

i love god and jesus.god bless. ps kiss it god haters

it was a flower, and anyone who mistakes it for a naked chick is ether stupid or perverted, and i don't think anyone is that stupid

it is a tropical flower you see um on tropical shirts ALL THE TIME!!! the guy just sucked a drawing.

it also looks unfinished

peace. god bless yall!!! .....bye!!

hay martha wanna suck my dick

There is no "case" against the city for erasing it. They didn't prohibit the artist's free speech, because they let him make his statement. He has no constitutionally protected guarantee that any statement he makes gets to hang in the air for a full week. That said, it's lame of them to erase it from a philosophical point of view. We all expected images like that to "pop up" aHEAD of the wall even being "erected", and our society beCOMES "engorged" with debate. I don't even think self-appointed morality police like COX (too easy) should be given the "shaft" for playing his role here, nor should the city manager be "sacked" for erasing it...just chastised, because it was only a minor "boner" on his part that does not stain the city nor open it up to legal liability. All of the images on the wall should be viewed with a certain amount of deferens, or we will all feel like weiners when the Constitutional revisionists arrive and press our doorbells with a big "ding DONG"!

Has Jones appologized yet or is he just pretending this didn't happen?

Not much of a free speech wall when every time I go down there and write something there's a cop waiting right there who reads the comment, decides if he likes it or not, and if not, calls another cop for a second opinion in hopes of garnering support for doing something he's not even sure is legal in the first place.

A lot of cops can not like what you say you only get detained and tortured if the seargent is offended.

But don't expect a trial of any sort. That would be illegal.

I could hardly bear to read that entire article. The entire premise of the wall was completely misunderstood and degraded. The First Amendment fully protects that wall and any message that is conveyed through the depictions on the wall. It goes back to the idea that just because something is offensive to one person, or in this case multiple people, does not mean that it is illegal. There is no sign of a clear and present danger, so there is no reason to remove anything from the wall.

I think that they wall pulls the community together and like one of the leaders said in the article, you see naked pictures in museums and you considered it beautiful and expressive. I just think that they put up a wall for people to express themselves and the do clean the wall off ever so often they could have just cleaned it off that day and not worry about a huge ordeal. I think that is what I would do. I mean, yes it is something that isn't what we see everyday and want to see but we don't limit ourselves to a straight line. We like to be challenged and want to see something bold because it keeps us talking about something. I think that their isn't anything that will harm anyone if someone saw this. I think that it would open up discussion about freedom of expression and how people view the world. I don't think they should be able to take it off unless it is the day for wiping the pictures off. I think you have to look at it as a whole and see who it is effecting because in reality it isn't since famous artist have done so in the past.

Grammar, Grammar...wherefore art thou, Grammar?

"I think that they (sic) wall pulls the community together and like one of the leaders said in the article, you see naked pictures in museums and you considered it beautiful and expressive. I just think that they put up a wall for people to express themselves and the (sic) do clean the wall off ever (sic) so often they could have just cleaned it off that day and not worry about a huge ordeal. I think that is what I would do. I mean, yes it is something that isn't what we see everyday and want to see but we don't limit ourselves to a straight line. We like to be challenged and want to see something bold because it keeps us talking about something. I think that their (sic) isn't anything that will harm anyone if someone saw this. I think that it would open up discussion about freedom of expression and how people view the world. I don't think they should be able to take it off unless it is the day for wiping the pictures off. I think you have to look at it as a whole and see who it is effecting (sic) because in reality it isn't since famous artist have (sic) done so in the past."

Yeah...let's keep cutting teacher salaries. Those greedy, greedy teachers...

...and I don't say it to be mean, either. Our educational system has become more worried about hurting a student's feelings than about giving them the tools they need to be taken seriously on a job application. The Wisconsin teachers are in the top half of the national teachers' salaries, and Wisconsin students score in the top half of national student scores in the nation. There IS a correlation. We can bail out dishonest and greedy bankers and start ridiculous wars under false pretenses, but as soon as we notice we've been out of money for a long time, the first thing on the chopping block is the money we allocate to teaching our next generation of Americans. We tell ourselves, 'oh, what's a few spelling mistakes and grammatical errors...the important thing is you can make out what they are trying to say, sort of.' Then OUR companies need an operator, and when they can't even decipher what an American is trying to say in his/her cover letter, outsourcing the job to India suddenly starts looking a lot more attractive. Pretty sad that english is spoken and written more correctly in countries where it is not even the primary language. I don't point it out to make fun of the student. I point it out to point out that we let the student down.