Green Light: Now Begin

Following a question by fer on IRC yesterday, I wrote a patch to add GtkFileChooserButton support to glade (and add a *.glade filter to the “Open Project” dialog).

On a different note, my landlord made me take down my black flag a few minutes ago… The exchange went something like this:

LL: What does the flag mean?
Me: Anarchism.
LL: Ok, the only flag you can fly is the American (U.S.) flag.
Me: Why?
LL: That’s the policy. [The lease requires I sign away something even the government says is my right]
Me: Okaaaay…
LL: I’m all for free speech.
Me: … (stunned)
LL: You can believe anything you want, but I own the building, so you have to take it down.

Wow, I get to believe anything I want, so long as I don’t actually express it, huh? Gee, thanks! I guess didn’t know that’s what free speech (which, again, the government itself has defined as free expression) really meant.

Just in case anyone is wondering, the company in question has a website, complete with contact information :-).

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11 Comments

  1. Jimbob says:

    Yeah, I’m planning on talking to the (fortunately free) student legal aid tommorrow about it.

  2. Tack says:

    Wow. I absolutely would _not_ have complied. I’d be quite surprised if the landlord had any legal power to force you to remove your flag, but I’d certainly have consulted a lawyer on principle.

  3. Jimbob says:

    Yeah, I guess I just hold the law to a standard it doesn’t hold itself to: self-consistency. In this case, the U.S. constitution is supposed to be the supreme law within the U.S., which means that contracts (which themselves are only sustainable within the legal framework) must recognize the supremacy clause, which therefore means that no contract can forfeit your constitutional rights.

    But, like the poet said “Understand that regardless of the lofty ideas ingraved on paper in such documents as the Constitution or Declaration the basic nature…” Oh, and anarchy is primarily useful to get and maintain the real-world justice/equality which is presently (and neccessarily must be) denied under the law. 🙂

  4. steve says:

    I doubt you have much recourse. You see, you don’t own the property. Your lease is a contract. You signed it and it protects the landowner/feudal lord. This is why anarchy is needed. 🙂

  5. Jimbob says:

    Well, the 1st Ammendment says “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech”, so it should follow logically (at the very least within the spirit of the ammendment) that Congress cannot make a law which would allow others to abridge that freedom for them. In addition, employers are not allowed to prohibit personal religious displays (the case in question was a woman who wore a cross to work), and the employer certainly has more privileges over an employee that a landlord does over a tenant (my landlord doesn’t have the legal ability to tell me what to spend half my waking day doing).

    For the record, though, I do realize that any potential legal fight may be pointless, but I’d rather at least look into it than just give up my human right to free expression. Particularly since the interaction in question was not the result of any complaint, but rather the landlord just seeing the flag when he was examining damage to the grass done by someone who wiped out on a motorcycle over the weekend (the guy wasn’t hurt, but left about a dozen large divots in the lawn).

  6. ed says:

    It’s a shame your landlord felt the need to restrict what political views residents could express. That seems very un-American to me.

    But as un-American as it may sound, it does also sound perfectly legal. The first Amendment, which grants unabridged freedom of speech, begins “Congress shall make no law”. True enough, Congress isn’t prohibiting your speech by law; your landlord is prohibiting it, by a contract you signed with him.

    I would guess (having rented a room to somebody before) that the law would be 100% on his side if you put up the flag anyway and he decided to evict you. If he’s at all competent as a landlord, he had a lawyer go over the contract to make sure it was all enforceable. (Having a room occupied but not generating rent means the landlord is losing money, so knowing how to evict somebody is something every landlord knows how to do.)

  7. Jordi says:

    Wow, it was a bit shocking to read about the flag thing.
    I agree with one of the first posters: see if you have something to do to workaround. And if you can’t restore the flag, I guess coming up with some clever substitute that the asshole can’t take down wouldn’t be hard… La imaginación contra el poder!

  8. ed says:

    That doesn’t follow logically, at all. It applies only to the federal government. 200 years of constitutional law says so. It means what it says, no more and no less. You can’t extrapolate law from what you think the “spirit” is.

    Courts have consistently upheld that States, for example, are not bound by the federal Constitution. (At least, so say my friends with government degrees, right after “If there’s one thing people should know about the government in this country, it’s that the Constitution applies to the federal government only!” 🙂

    This is probably why State Constitutions also enumerate your rights. (If the federal Constitution applied to the States, this would be pointless.) If you’re looking for a legal argument, BTW, this might be useful, since Illinois’ Constitution’s free speech section seems slightly stronger than the federal one (but IANAL — I just lived with a bunch of government majors for 4 years).

  9. Sean Middleditch says:

    I, for one, feel the land lord had the full right to request the flag to be removed. Remember, the landlord *owns* the building and property. You’re right to free speech was not in any way taken away; you have the full right to fly any flag you want on a building or property that *you* own. If someone comes by and sees a flag on the landlord’s building, that reflects on him. Your right to free speech does not trump his right to not have you put beliefs and words in his mouth.

    Yes, it would have been a lot nicer had the landlord been cooler about the fact and let the flag stay. But it’s his building, and his right to decide what goes on or in the property he owns. You haven’t had any rights taken away from you. You don’t even have the right to be on his property without his permission; and his lease states that he will give you that right only so long as you don’t break certain rules, including not putting up any flag but the American flag. He has, by letting you live on his property, given you more freedom than you have under the Constitution.

  10. Jimbob says:

    Shaun, dude, nobody is going to see a black flag hanging from an apartment’s balcony and think that Star Properties, Inc. believes in Anarchy. One need look no further than “La Vie Boheme” from Rent for proof of that :-).

  11. ed says:

    “…nobody is going to see a black flag hanging from an apartment’s balcony and think that Star Properties, Inc. believes in Anarchy.”

    I guess he knew there was only one way to be sure of that. 😉

Comments are closed.