Observations by Key Monroe~~Home of Right Opinions, Cynical Viewpoints, and TMI in Hefty Doses
|E-mail: keymonroe [at] alltel [dot] net

September 15, 2004

Creating Scandal Just for the Helluvit

Is it just me, or is it getting ridiculous? I've never seen so much barking about First Amendment rights.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love these rights, and I will, in fact, stand up for all of them, including the right to be stupid.

But some folks are acting like smart-assed ten year olds when they demand a literal interpretation, regardless of the situation.

I can't say that I appreciate the media's portrayal of the general populous, as they continue to lend airtime to hotheads - of both political affiliations - who have more mouth than brains.

First Amendment rights are not absolute. How can anyone be so naive as to believe that they are? Like any other rule, there are exceptions to this one...certain conditions must be adhered to.

Do you think you can waltz into a church on Sunday morning, scream profanities, and expect to stick around?

Think you can grab a mike in a courtroom just to tell your newest joke?

Wonder if you'd get away with standing in your own front yard at 3am belting out the Pledge of Allegiance through a megaphone...

The answer to that one is pretty simple: not if you live in a neighborhood.

This morning there was an older couple - the McHannons I believe - from Ohio being interviewed on Fox News. It seems their First Amendment rights were "violated" when their neighborhood association asked them to take down a yard sign that read, "Support your troops; Re-elect President Bush."

A few years ago, I lived in one of these neighborhoods. Good-sized houses, manicured yards, huge neighborhood pool, and the whole thing was held together with the almighty glue of a group that I affectionately referred to as the "neighborhood nazis."

As I am in the real estate business, I knew quite well what I was getting into. Folks, when you buy property, and you receive a list of restrictive covenants on that property, understand that these are not suggestions.

One of the previous owners of your property, most likely the developer, legally placed these restrictions on the deed to that property for a set period of time, typically 20 years.

If you want to let your weeds grow out of control, if you want to hang a window unit out of your garage window, if you want to park your R.V. in the street, or if you want to plaster your yard with various signs or even "yard art," DON'T BUY PROPERTY WITH A RESTRICTIVE DEED AND COVENANTS!

The day came when I could tolerate no more of it myself.

It came on a warm fall afternoon when I walked out to get the mail. The yard looked pretty good, I observed, as my husband had just mowed. He hadn't edged, since our edger had eaten something that didn't agree with it last time it was used. I had pulled the weeds, and my annuals were still thriving. I reached into the box and grabbed my mostly junk mail.

Oh, how kind...the neighborhood nazis sent me a letter. I was given a notice because my yard hadn't been edged. We would be given a ten-day grace period to comply with neighborhood covenants.

I walked into the house, put the letter on my kitchen counter, went out to the garage, grabbed one of my real estate signs, and stuck it in my yard.

I like Mr. McHannon's sign personally, but if he wants to display it, he needs to move. He may not have the right to change the covenants, but he has the freedom to move to a place that has no covenants.

Incidentally, during the interview Mr. McHannon merely touched on the one thing that could actually give him a case. And that's that there were cars parked on the street with Kerry bumper-stickers. Now, if a neighbor with a Bush sign is cited, yard signs being against covenants....And a neighbor with a Kerry bumper-sticker is not cited, parking in the street also being against covenants...then there's a case for bias.

There's no First Amendment case here.

(I was going to give another example, but due to the length of this one, I'll have to hold off until I steal another hour.)

posted by Key on 05:44 PM | Comments (9)

I once lived in a place like that. I learned three valuable lessons:

#1-- READ AND UNDERSTAND the covenants

#2-- If you can find ONE HOME that violated the covenants and didn't get prosecuted (such as installing a shallow well pump), you are free to do the same thing.

#3-- If you don't like the covenants, attend the monthly Neighborhood Association meeting and propose amendments. I did that crap a lot and actually got a few amendments passed.

But you are right about one thing, Key. Anybody who wants to be part of the Homeowner's Association is a closet Nazi.

Posted by: Acidman at September 15, 2004 09:54 PM

Neighborhood Nazi...Check...Know what you mean

Posted by: Sam at September 16, 2004 04:10 AM

Convenants are the brain child of realtors, they drive the price of the property up by pretending to be an exclusive neighborhood. I learned the hard way and moved my ex-yankee ass out of one such neighborhood, I will be damned if I have to beg a committee of idiots to do something with property I own. Realtors and Lawyers are pond scum.

Posted by: James Old Guy at September 16, 2004 07:29 PM


I may not be a practicing Realtor at the moment, but I do hold my real estate license, which I use particularly in my own business transactions.

But I'll agree that MOST salivate only for their bottom line. (I prefer to hang with the jeans & boots wearing, acreage walking, knowledgeable, but still down to earth variety.)

Posted by: Key at September 16, 2004 07:44 PM

Well, my license is active, if seldom used, and I knew damned well what the covenants were when I moved in here, and I rather like them. It enabled me to force my neighbor to haul off his junked out Jeep, and my other neighbor to get rid of her piece of shit RV.
Didn't Thomas Jefferson say "The Tree of Liberty must be watered with the Bloode of Patriots, and Bad Naybores, occasionally"? I may be paraphrasing, but I think that's the gist of it.

Posted by: Velociman at September 17, 2004 02:27 AM

You're quite right. No First Amendment issue there. As for the bumper stickers, case or no case, depends solely on the wording of the particulr covenant.

Posted by: Jim - PRS at September 17, 2004 04:00 AM

I didn't mean to infer that bumber stickers were against covenants; it is the parking in the street that is against covenants...

Point being, if Kerry supporters can get away with breaking the covenants, while Bush supporters can not, that is where this fella might have himself a case.

Posted by: Key at September 17, 2004 03:29 PM


Posted by: online casinos at April 6, 2005 10:27 AM

How would one go about getting rid of a huge RV that blocks the entire driveway as well as, causes visibitity problems for me getting out of the driveway and the children playing, the motorist can not see the kids if they ran out chasing a ball. There are restrictive bylaws but no association to enforce them.

thanks for your thoughts


Posted by: alison at June 13, 2005 02:16 PM
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