Tis the season for holiday display litigation. In Sycamore, Ohio, Jasen Dixon has been cited for putting up a Nativity scene in the front of his house. Dixon’s vision however has a zombie baby that many find offensive. The citation raises serious first amendment questions in the application of a code provision barring “accessory structures” in a front yard. That seems a vague concept and one that is prone to arbitrary or capricious applications. The question is whether other, more conventional holiday displays have been allowed.
Dixon has already been fined $500 and has removed the roof of the decoration to see if it will comply with the regulation.
Dixon insists that this is art and free expression. He has a plausible case if he can show that he has been singled out for this treatment by the city. I fail to see how a holiday decoration would be defined as an accessory structure or the basis for prohibiting such decorations given their political, religious, or artistic content.
What do you think?
Source: Washington Post