Diane McFarlin, Publisher of the Sarasota Herald-Tribune (SH-T), gave a platform to Caren Lobo (pictured) to attack the free speech rights of Mike Fox. Mrs. Lobo wrote a guest column titled, “A Sarasotans' negative sign”. The column is solely about Mr. Mike Fox who put up a DEFEAT OBAMA IN 2012 sign on his private property. Mrs. Lobo does not like the sign. Mrs. Lobo, whose husband is a political appointee of President Obama, has failed in her efforts to have it legally taken down. So she must now vet her frustrations and anger in a local newspaper.
Why is Mrs. Lobo so angry about a simple sign on Mr. Fox’s property?
Mrs. Lobo’s efforts to have the sign removed by the Sarasota City Commission and city attorney were unsuccessful. Her efforts failed because the City attorney ruled that the sign is not political and falls under Mike Fox’s inalienable First Amendment Constitutional rights. It is a personal statement, neither hateful nor harmful to anyone. It is a personal opinion.
However, Mrs. Lobo’s column has had a reaction, a very negative one. “We have received numerous crank calls as a result [of the Caren Lobo column], I can handle it but my wife is finding it all threatening,” states Mr. Fox in an e-mail.
Is Caren Lobo inciting others against Mike Fox?
By writing the guest column Mrs. Lobo has created an atmosphere in Sarasota that is counterproductive to a peaceful and lawful community. Mrs. Lobo uses politically charged words to portray Mike Fox as “the investor class” and the “envied 1 percent”. We know that the Occupiers are energized to action by such words. You and I have seen the Occupiers violate local laws, attack the police, cause extensive property damage and even deaths in other communities. Is Mrs. Lobo inciting the Occupiers to take action?Click here to read the Federal Law against incitement.
Mrs. Lobo is inciting others when she asks, “How did he [Mike Fox] become so blinded with rage toward President Obama that he spent the time, energy and dollars to create a design, pull a permit and have a giant hate message slapped on the busiest public highway in the city at the entrance to downtown?” [My emphasis]
Hate message? We all know that President Obama is half-black. Is Mrs. Lobo energizing minorities to attack Mike Fox and his family? Is “hate message” code for racist or bigot? Is that not inciting?
Mrs. Lobo then accuses Mike of wanting to make Sarasota “the meanest city” in the nation. If that is not inciting I don’t know what is. One man’s sign determines the tone of an entire city? Mrs. Lobo needs to look in the mirror for that one should her column incite others to action!
Finally, Mrs. Lobo uses her guest column to promote President Obama. Take out the incitement and it reads like the Democrat Party strategy for the Obama campaign. It is for all intents and purposes a political ad for Obama. The title could have been "RE-ELECT OBAMA IN 2012". I wonder if the Sarasota Herald-Tribune will offer this as an in-kind contribution to the Obama campaign.
My fear is that Mrs. Lobo by her hateful and harmful column is inciting others to take violent action against Mike Fox, his family and his property. She single handily is putting a chill on free speech in Sarasota. Mrs. Lobo is attacking Mike’s free speech rights under the First Amendment by incitement. That is the bottom line.
History tells us that if Mike Fox's sign is taken down with it goes your and my First Amendment rights and with it the entire Bill of Rights. We are all Mike Fox!