Good for Georgia Sheriff Mike Jolley. Rather than wait around for the first progressive chess move on the Christmas culture war board, he put others outside his county in checkmate.
Last week, Sheriff Jolley posted a large welcome sign that cautioned visitors entering the area: “WARNING: Harris County is politically incorrect. We say: Merry Christmas, God Bless America and In God We Trust. We salute our troops and our flag. If this offends you … LEAVE!”
Jolley, who is retired from the U.S. Army, was elected as sheriff and has served in the position for 23 years. He’s well liked and loved in his county. And he actually paid out of his own pocket $553 for the politically incorrect sign. He said he got the idea from a staff member who saw similar verbiage on the Internet.
Jolley has received positive responses about the sign from as far away as Hawaii, saying they have been “overwhelmingly, humbling positive.” In fact, some people in his own county are posting yard signs and making T-shirts to show their support. Jolley even plans to post more signs around his county, with residents covering the costs.
And what about those who oppose his sign, like the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia, which is investigating the situation?
The sheriff answered, “There are some people who don’t like it, and I respect that. That’s why I put on the sign that if you don’t like it, leave.”
He further explained on Fox News, “I spent 20 years in the army to give everyone the right to disagree with me or anyone else. Hopefully, if they disagree, they can voice that opinion. But if it offends them, truly offends them, maybe they’re in the wrong country.”
The American Humanist Association is demanding that the sheriff’s sign be taken down because, the group says, it is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment.
The organization’s legal director told WRBL, “The sign is openly hostile to those who don’t agree with the sheriff’s religious views. Even devout Christians should realize that such actions by public officials reflect poorly on the community, sending an ugly message of intolerance.”
Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of Freedom from Religion Foundation, responded about Sheriff Jolley’s sign by saying, “It reminds me of the ‘Don’t get caught in this town after sundown’ signs that used to go up in segregated America.”
Really? So “Merry Christmas, God Bless America and In God We Trust. We salute our troops and our flag” are now racial slurs?
Jolley knew someone would legally challenge his sign as a violation of the First Amendment’s alleged separation of church and state tenets, but to label his sign as racial bigotry is a new low.
And that’s what really chaps my hide. Of all freedoms of speech, sacred and patriotic sayings like “Merry Christmas,” “God Bless America,” “In God We Trust,” and “We salute our troops and our flag” should be the easiest to exercise.
I’m sure America’s founders are rolling in their graves over accusations that Jolley is violating First Amendment rights based upon his mere expression and exercise of them.
Let me repeat a few critical quotations from America’s founders that apply to Sheriff Jolley’s sign and situation.
George Washington said, “If freedom of speech is taken away, then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.”
Benjamin Franklin said, “Whoever would overthrow the liberty of a nation must begin by subduing the freeness of speech.”
Our founders cry out from their graves for us to remember what they established – a nation free from tyranny and oppression. Thomas Jefferson was particularly passionate and eloquent at this point with these words that are now indelibly inscribed on the memorial in Washington named after him. Whether to the prohibition of free speech or the dominance of religious sectarianism, his words apply: “I have sworn upon the altar of God eternal hostility toward any tyranny over the mind of men.”
So have I. Have you?
The sheriff explained to the Ledger Enquirer that he had the sign created to “stir people’s belief and patriotism.”
“I believe it’s time for the silent majority to stand up for our beliefs and not be ashamed,” he said.
I concur, Sheriff Jolley. I wholeheartedly concur. And my wife, Gena, and I salute you for standing up for America and all of our constitutional rights, especially as a public servant. You’re a model for others to follow, Sir.
My fellow Americans, when free speech is restricted or punished even in the public square, we can be certain that we’ve drifted from our roots. Isn’t it time we returned home to the Constitution? Don’t just fight for your freedom of speech – fight for others.
Have a Merry politically incorrect Christmas!