Speechless

Follow the signs

Buzz is going to keep it short this week because we have a whopper of a headache, thanks to one Larry S. Kilgore, Republican candidate for the Texas House.

It's not his fault, really. When we spoke to Kilgore about his problem--we'll get to that in a bit; hang on--he was perfectly friendly and reasonable. He has a legitimate complaint concerning some pesky free-speech issues, and working for a newspaper and all, we feel obligated to take his side, as much as we really hate his side.

Sigh...excuse Buzz while we down a few more aspirin.

OK, here's the deal. Kilgore is a hard-core, anti-abortion, family values conservative, and by "hard-core," we mean that, compared to him, Pat Robertson looks like a member of Queer Eye's Fab Five. And Kilgore is not one to hide his light under a bushel. Running for the District 93 seat in Tarrant County, he, like most candidates, placed campaign signs outside polling places on Tuesday. Only his signs were different; they included the words "The Law of The Lord Is Perfect," "Abortion Is Murder" and "Homosexuality Is Sin."

One of the polling places was at Sherrod Elementary in Arlington. Several parents were offended, so Principal Nancy Curl pulled up his signs. Just his. At first.

OK, that was dumb. A government employee censoring political speech solely based on content on election day? Do they teach civics in Arlington ISD? Kilgore complained, so Curl had all candidates' signs removed from the school grounds. Trying to be evenhanded, we reckon. Guess it's not really censorship if you cut everyone's tongues out. Kilgore points out that taking all of them up was still unfair to candidates like him, who have little money for ads and depend on the polling place signs to get the word out. "You take my signs down, you take my message down," Kilgore says. A while later, a school district official informed him that all the signs would be replaced.

An Arlington ISD spokeswoman confirmed Kilgore's story but noted that the district did call the Texas Secretary of State's Office while trying to figure out how to handle the issue. The district was told that if the signs were disruptive, it might be OK to remove all of them (we doubt that). But some voters depend on the gaggle of signs to tell them where the polling place is, so the district let them stay.

Now, Buzz sympathizes some with Curl. Maybe she just wanted to get through another school day without any needless hassle. Yet we suspect we'd have a lot less sympathy if we didn't find Kilgore's message so distasteful. If the signs had come from the other end of the political spectrum, Buzz wouldn't have such a headache right now. Kilgore, by the way, opposes all state funding for education and was booted from a leadership position with the state's Constitution Party after telling a reporter for a gay publication that he could endorse the death penalty for homosexuality. "Well, we know punishing homosexuals by death would be extremely hard in today's society," Kilgore told The Texas Triangle. "But we hope that we can help to drive it underground so in about 20 or 30 years, the punishment can fit the crime."

Of course, people can say any dumb-ass thing they want in America. Shoot, Buzz does it every week. Still, Kilgore posed us a pretty dilemma, forcing us to come out on behalf of his right to be so wrong. When we told him he was making us sweat, he laughed. "Thanks. That makes my day," he said.

 
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