Lafayette, California is as close small town America as it gets in California. However, this town of 24,000 has come into the media spotlight because of a controversial display. On his own private property, Jeff Heaton has placed 400 crosses and an 80 square foot sign. The sign reads, "In Memory of 2,867 U.S. Troops Killed in Iraq." And Heaton is feeling the heat for this display. For some reason people in Lafayette and some city officials are pissed-off about the memorial. Their reason seem to vary between ridiculous laws and hatred of liberals in general. The memorial needs to stay in place and grow because it is a sobering reminder of the cost our country has paid for a madman's war.
Heaton's town has taken the memorial the wrong way. Apparently someone complained about it. Their problem was not with the crosses but with the sign. According to a ridiculous city ordinance, "the size of signs must be 4 square feet." I have always thought it was stupid for towns to have such ordinances. They limit a business' ability to advertise and they also limit the freedom of expression that is constantly being limited in this country. Fortunately, their are people in city government that agree. The city council is talking with attorneys to determine, "whether the sign ordinance conflicts with freedom of expression and expects to take the matter up in about a month." But the real reason for the uproar seems more sinister. The real reason has nothing to do with ordinances and more to do with differences in opinions. The real reason is a group trying to silence others based on their opinions of current events.
It is no secret that Lafayette is a mostly conservative community. And like every conservative community, their are people who disagree with the conservative viewpoint. Jeff Heaton is one of those people. He is a member of a local peace group and he was a conscientious objector during Vietnam. And it is for that reason that people are trying to silence him. Even the mayor of the town agrees. He stated, "if this had happened in San Francisco or Berkeley or Oakland this would be a dog bites man story." "When it happens in a quiet suburban community that is generally more conservative, then it's more like man bites dog." Because of Heaton's political beliefs, many feel that, "it is an affront that uses personal grief for political ends." A notion that is as ridiculous as the city sign law.
The town of Lafayette, California has clearly fallen victim to another case of minority opinion silencing. Differing opinions from the current government are unpopular in small, conservative towns. For this reason, people like Heaton are suppressed. Their efforts to make a statement are squashed. Their freedoms are taken away. As for Heaton, he says, "The crosses speak for themselves." They are a sobering reminder that this country has paid dearly for a useless war. The sons and daughters of America are fighting for nothing in a country far away. And they are dying everyday. Displays like this should be everywhere. We need to be reminded. We need to make this war as unpopular as possible. But at the same time we need to keep the troops in mind. This war is not their fault. It is the fault of idiotic leaders who will not stop with their arrogant attempts to rule the world. Freedom of speech must be upheld. It is one of the only things still good about this country.