Ernest Hemingway once said, “Oak Park is a place of broad lawns and narrow minds.” As a 35-year resident of Oak Park, I would never apply such a broad brush to all my fellow Oak Parkers, but it certainly applies to the miscreant who removed the Brady and Kirk signs from my front lawn the night of Oct. 27. No, they did not blow away as the signs promoting Claypool and Oak Park Clean Mind, Clean Spirit still remain. By the way, this cowardly, intolerant thief also stole my neighbors’ signs.

This is not my first brush with a lack of tolerance for expressing diverse political views. In 2008, my John McCain sign, flanked by signs expressing support for other Republican candidates, as well as Democrats and one independent, motivated a neighbor, a person I like and respect to say, “You sure are brave!” Now, I do consider myself brave, but I said to her that, in this instance, I was simply exercising my constitutionally guaranteed right of free speech.

Candidly, the visceral, aggressive side of my personality openly pleads with this thief to ring my doorbell so we can “discuss” free speech, while the reflective, analytical side of my intellect causes me to shake my head with sadness that in the village I love, there resides such a despicable, loathsome reprobate, someone so intolerant of the genuine diversity that makes this such a unique and laudable community.

James Gates
Oak Park

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