Editor of the Reformer,
Dan DeWalt's letter of Sept. 11 ("No right to spew anonymous hate messages") calls into question whether political opinions expressed as graffiti are considered free speech; this is in regard to graffiti in the road in Newfane this summer. The letter writer believes that speech must be attached to a person's name in order for it to be worthy of being protected speech.
In fact, the Supreme Court has frequently found that anonymous speech is protected by the Constitution. A frequently cited 1995 Supreme Court ruling in McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission reads: "Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. ... It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation ... at the hand of an intolerant society." (Citation from the Electronic Frontier Foundation eff.org).
Calling a large corporate movement racist is not a threat against an individual. It's an opinion about the philosophy of the organization. When employees and public figures are sent to re-education camp or fired from their jobs for expressing the opinion that all lives matter, surely we can understand why people might fear retaliation at the hand of an intolerant society.
The act of writing graffiti may well be illegal. Therefore, just as the authorities may be urged to find whoever painted "BLM is racist" on the road, they may also be urged to find whoever crossed out "BLM" and painted in "Trump" to change the graffiti to read "Trump is Racist." No one seems to be complaining about that graffiti. I know of two stop signs in Newfane that have the name "Bush" carved into them to read "Stop Bush." Isn't this the same sort of defacing of town property that happened in the road? It is certainly the same sort of political speech. Yet there they stand, nearly 20 years later. The Constitution covers all of us, not just the people we agree with.
Newfane, Sept. 11