If you find yourself in Carpentersville, Illinois, be careful what you say. Town Trustee and Obama delegate, Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski, has been issued a citation for referring to kids in her tree as “monkeys” — a comment found offensive by the African-American family.
Carpentersville’s first constitutional crisis began innocently enough on Saturday when Ramirez-Sliwinski found two kids climbing in her small magnolia tree. Concerned about damage being done to the tree and the chance that they might fell, Ramirez-Sliwinski said that she asked the parents (who were watching) to get the kids down. According to Ramirez-Sliwinski, the father told her “none of her business.” Ramirez-Sliwinski said that she then “calmly said the tree is not there for them to be climbing in there like monkeys.”
That is when the mother called the cops and the Carpenterville police issued the $75 citation, saying that in Carpentersville it is illegal to say anything that “disturbs or alarms people.” For their part, the Obama campaign appeared to initially agree that she should not be a delegate due to the incident.
Putting aside the possibility that it was a clueless and innocent rather than intentional and racist insult, the actions of the city constitute a gross violation of the first amendment, which actually extends within the borders of Carpentersville. What is curious is why the police department does seem to know that.
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UPDATE: To the credit of the Obama campaign, they are not asking Ramirez-Sliwinski to quit as a delegate, calling the incident an “misunderstanding.” Now, we just have to wait for the Carpentersville to not only withdraw the charge but apologize to Ramirez-Sliwinski for the violation of her speech rights.