An Independence Day incident, during which Del. Pat McDonough was apparently asked to observe long-standing July 4th parade rules forbidding the use and display of campaign signs, has turned into a full-fledged fiasco that played out on airwaves and email throughout the day Monday.
Del. Pat McDonough was first to strike Monday morning with his allegations of Independence Day “oppression.”
Bel Air Independence Day Parade Chairman Mike Blum responded that he was simply enforcing parade rules, which Del. McDonough refused to follow..
Del. McDonough, naturally, fired back a rebuttal letting Blum know what he thought of him and the July 4th parade rules.
The situation progressed throughout the day with Del. McDonough and Blum debating the incident via telephone lines on the Ed Norris Show on 105.7 FM. By nightfall, a letter-writing campaign was well underway.
What follows are a collection of those unedited letters, most of which support Del. McDonough and were also forwarded to Blum:
I cannot understand how this Mr Blum gets away with taking our free speech away. The constitution maintains FREEDOM OF SPEECH. I bet the “OBama” signs weren’t taken down. What is happening to this country. Our service men and women are fighting for our freedoms; where does that fit in??? The Government is becoming bigger and bigger and how could people over-look this. They will see this when its too late and all of our American liberties are gone.. Are they going to blame this on Bush too?? The Obama fans should be ashamed of themselves. And now, another stimulous pkg? More borrowing, more spending from Obama and his crownies?? How does this benefit the hard working people in the US? Please tell me? He has done NOTHING TO PUT PEOPLE TO WORK…
If my understanding of what occurred at the parade is correct, then Mike Blum is a criminal! If he “snatched” signs out of the hands of two children, I believe one little girl is 8 years of age, that is in fact an assault and robbery! I don’t know where the parents were, or the deputies for that matter, but what he did was an illegal act, and a violent one at that! If he is correct in his contention, that he had a right to keep those signs out of the parade, he should have notified the proper authorities, in this case a deputy, and had them retrieve those signs! He had no right to do what it is alleged that he did, that being forcibly taking those signs from those children, that is assault and robbery!
I am sorry I was not in the parade, carrying a big sign that said “Taxed Enough Already”, or “Bob Ehrlich Again!” and Mr. Blum attempted to snatch and steal my sign, he’d be flat on his back, wishing that he hadn’t done that! Maybe I’ll run into him at next years parade, I certainly hope so! And a word to Mr. Blum: “Your rules stink!” The 4th of July celebrates all that is American, including the right to peaceably exercise First Amendment Rights; those commie rules need to be changed, and, Mr. Blum should no longer have anything to do with that parade! I hope the family of those children file formal charges against this cretin! Are any “official” Republicans possessed of enough intestinal fortitude to do the right thing, and demand that Blum answer for his crime; I didn’t think so, and that is what is wrong with the Republican Party, they are far too willing to let anything slide!
Robert Di Stefano
Major (retired) Baltimore City Police Department
Censorship at the Bel Air Fourth of July Parade
The theme of the parade was “Patriots Then and Now”. A quick review of our history will recall that, in the years prior to 1776, England had instituted repressive taxes against the colonists to pay for their ongoing war with France. In response, the colonists protested by throwing Tea Parties — not only in Boston, but also in Cecil County and Annapolis. The protests eventually led to our independence being declared on July 4, 1776, the event which we were celebrating in the Bel Air parade. That was Patriots Then.
Patriots Now are fed up with government’s overspending, with paying taxes to bail out institutions, with government endangering our children’s and grandchildren’s future by monstrous debt. In response they are emulating their forefathers’ example. They are holding Tea Parties — in Boston, in Cecil County, in Annapolis, and all across the country. They are patriots determined to take our country back from the tyrants.
So, in the spirit of that theme, my parade signs read: “Delegate Impallaria says, Stop the Taxing,” “Delegate Impallaria says, Stop the Spending,” “Delegate Impallaria says, Support the Tea Parties,” “Delegate Impallaria says, Support the Constitution,” “Delegate Impallaria says, Happy Birthday, America.”
We carried these signs in the Kingsville Parade earlier in the day. As we approached the reviewing stand, the parade marshall read out each and every one over the loudspeaker, and then thanked me for supporting the positions of their community. So these signs represented not only my views, but the views of the Kingsville spectators, who voiced their agreement during the parade.
At the Bel Air Parade, however, my supporters and I were attacked by Mr. Michael Blum, the parade marshall, for carrying signs which clearly expressed the theme of the parade — Patriotism Then and Now.
If there truly had been objectionable material in anyone’s signs, the proper place for removal would have been the staging area, before appearing in public. But Mr. Blum stopped us on the parade route, ripping the “Support the Tea Parties” sign off our lead motorcycle, then stripping signs away from children as young as eight years old. Fortunately, my one niece, who is a true patriot, hid her sign, and for the remaining route we were left with “Stop the Taxing.”
As Mr. Blum and his cohort attacked the members of my group, the spectators were outraged at what they saw, and started booing Mr. Blum, calling him a “sign Nazi” and “a Communist”, and yelling “This day is all about patariotism and free speech.” It was obvious that the spectators were not offended by the signs, but were offended by Mr. Blum’s censoring of them.
Then, like true Nazis or Communists, they not only prevented my free speech, they attempted to confiscate my private property by refusing to return the signs. I was not about to stand for this. I repeatedly demanded they place the signs in my vehicle, and they repeatedly refused. All this was taking place in public, which was an embarassment to me, my family, and my supporters. When the van driver, my brother, got out and joined me, they realized that, in the famous words of Martin Luther King, Jr., “We shall not be moved,” and the parade would be held up even further, they finally returned the signs.
As one blogger put it, “he is sick and tired of *&%^ politicians walking in the parades.” I 100% agree with him, and that is exactly why we carried those signs. I believe it is the right of the people to know exactly what their elected officials stand for. If they do not support what I stand for, it is their option to boo or ridicule me. If they do, they have the right to support me for my representation of them.
Mr. Michael Blum’s actions are a total disgrace. He owes a public apology to every true American who believes in freedom of speech. He should also attend classes on the Constitution given by the Institute on the Constitution which are held at Boyle Buick. Or, he should just openly admit to his fascist/community beliefs which he so clearly demonstrated at the Bel Air Parade.
As for my family, my supporters and myself, we stand 100% behind the positions we have taken, and we proudly say that we will continue to support the patriots of the past by doing all we can to be patriots of the present.
Delegate, District 7
Dear Mr. Blum,
Friends in Bel Air have notified me of your despicable actions concerning the parade on Saturday.
Don’t you realize your actions are a violation of the US Constitution? Harassing people with English Only signs and snatching signs from children which support the Constitution–is an illegal act on your part. That parade is partially funded by area citizens.
Please uphold the Constitution in future parades. I would hope you realize by now that your actions were not appreciated.
I find Mr. Blum’s comments and actions horridly in opposition of what our Country is supposed to stand for. Our country is at a critical time where foreigners are invading the rights instead of proudly rooting themselves within them. Most politicians have made a career of being politicians thereby forgetting what it means to work with and beside the hard-working people of this Country. That is the right way to get your hands dirty…not by taking frustration out on children or parade spectators. A parade is about fun, pride, and a camaraderie each of us share as citizens of the USA. I cannot fathom behavior like Mr. Blum’s, along with his subsequent contriteness, passing as professional. I am gravely disappointed.
Rules of a parade! My gosh, it seems to me that for virtually all of my life parades have contained campaing slogans and the likes from every candidate or politician that participated. To suggest that these are prohibited seems to go against the grain of everything American.
Perhaps another “Czar” is needed. Expanding government is the obvious rule of thumb in today’s politics; maybe even a couple billion in aid to further devalue our econony!…that way the government could own the parade, and take us further on the horrendous downslide that we are currently experiencing. We will never recover from the debt that the Democrats are multiplying daily!
With regard to the Bel-Air 4th of July parade,I find the actions of Mr.Blum appalling.This self proclaimed “yellow dog democrat”, his description not mine,was out of control .Clearly his actions were politically -driven. The citizens of Harford County should be outraged considering that the Bel-Air parade is supported by their tax dollars. Oh, I forgot, dems don’t care about our tax dollars. They think its theirs to spend as they wish. Speaking of which, our Congressman from the 1st District did us all wrong on the his vote for the Cap and Tax bill. I emailed Mr. Kratovil , but have yet to hear back from him. On the other hand Delegates Impallaria and McDonough always keep me informed and reply to emails. From my perspective , Mr.Kratovil should be toast in the 1st in 2010. As for Mr. Blum , he should immediately resign as parade committee chairperson.
Michael A. Trush
Good evening Mr. Blum. I am writing to remind you of the 1st Amendment of the Bill of Rights. It states: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or PROHIBITING THE FREE EXERCISE THEREOF; OR ABRIDGING THE FREEDOM OF SPEECH, or of the press; OR THE RIGHT OF THE PEOPLE PEACEABLY TO ASSEMBLE, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
This is the law of our land and it is to be respected, no matter what our political party is or what anybody else’s political party or opinion is.
It is my understanding that you used your position in an attempt to censor the tea party people and their right to free speech and assembly in Bel Air recently. This is particularly egregious given that it was during the 4th of July Holiday.
I suggest that you call Pat McDonough on his radio show at WCBM on Saturday night and apologize for your behavior.
I would like to inform you that i am a registered Democrat. I do not necessarily agree with Rep. McDonough or his group on all issues, but i back their right to speak out and peacefully assemble and strongly oppose any effort by anybody to inhibit their Constitutional Right to do so.
I urge you to immediately take steps to right the wrong that you attempted to impose on those people. You may not agree with them, but they have a right as Americans to express themselves. CENSORSHIP IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA IS WRONG!
It has come to my attention that at the 4th of July parade at Bel Air this Sat past , the Chairmen of the parade committee ,has complained about a few signs ,even displaying moments of rage . This is not except able, especially coming from an individual that claims the parade should show no signs of partisan ship , yet he himself could not hold back on his own feelings about the matter. Taking signs from children at an independence day parade in an a front to independence it self . And he is a proud Democrat . Shame on him ,and if his Democratic party friends agree with that shame on them
Bob Driscoll Middle River Md.
Dear Mr. Blum,
I want to thank you for taking the opportunity to organize the Bel Air – 4th of July “Patriotism, Then and Now.” parade.
I also want to thank you for providing the outstanding “TEACHABLE MOMENTS,” as you removed signs you considered , while – apolitical [not reflecting either a democratic or republican promotion], none obscene, and none inflammatory – but none the less [according to your judgement evidently] offensive or harmful for parade spectators to view (Why?). I gather you also informed certain spectators (not bound by any contractual obligation or announced prohibitions) that they had to “put away” or otherwise hide their signage, which you had somehow found offensive for general viewing.
It is not often parade spectators and children get to observe the lengths persons who assume they have the power of authority will go to silence spoken or written speech they PERSONALLY find objectionable.
You have noted that your agreement for participating in your parade states participants “specifically agree not to display any signs promoting a cause or issue.” This language seems over broad and nebulous to me. Public gatherings to celebrate our “Independence” Day, our forefathers Boston Tea Party, our Constitution with its first amendment right to free speech clearly should support the delivery patriotic messages. While these reflections relate to our founding … they are of necessity also a topic of relevant concern today. Such reminders as “Support the Constitution,” “Support the Tea Parties,” and “Cut Taxes,” and “Speak English” are of vital importance and wholly appropriate messages today!
Your actions in trying to muzzle such messages implies, for all to see and particularly the children who will have to shoulder the damage occasioned by our current foolhardy legislative directions ….”Patriotism Now” is frowned upon and there are those who will stifle, oppose and potentially punished anyone who would fail to obey ALL COMMANDS relating to “Patriotism” as they elect to issue!
Your actions clearly demonstrate the dangers/threats patriots are facing today. Thanks again for your example!
Jean G. Turner
A Maryland citizen originally from Chicago and currently Howard County.
By the way I attended Bel Air’s first Tea Party and found it very patriotic and entirely exemplary. Had I not had to work from before dawn to after dusk would have joined the Tea Party in Bel Air again over the 4th.
Thanks for your letter concerning the events during the parade this past weekend. Sorry but other family promises kept us from attending. I am a true conservative and believe completely in the intent of our constitution. I hope that your description of Mr.. Blums actions are exaggerated. I would hope also that if indeed your account is accurate that not only was there shouting but charges of harassment brought to bear against these individuals. I know these are times of political extreme and that emotions are running high BUT that type of behavior must be dealt with quickly .
Unfortunately we as a people are becoming complacent in the face of this Marxist movement to ignore the constitution and its laws. I would be happy to join you and others in requesting the young man be apologized to, as well as have his sign returned. In addition to this I would hope the Aegis call attention to this incident and report accurately all that occurred so that ALL may be informed as to the type of individuals entrusted with such an honor as parade chairman. Again I stand by to assist in taking this individual to task if this an accurate account.
Brian T Clarke
Not everyone supported Del. McDonough and his claims, however:
To the Editor:
I was a volunteer marshal in the Bel Air parade. I didn’t witness the incident in question, but I strongly believe that although Mr. McDonough may be right in his criticism of the parade rules, he ought to find a better way to express it.
Perhaps the rules of the parade are wrong, too restrictive, or even unconstitutional. Perhaps the rules should be changed. But that doesn’t excuse rude conduct in public. Other politicians and private groups read the rules and chose not to bring signs advocating a cause or campaign. It would not be fair to them for the parade marshals to give Mr. McDonough special treatment at the last minute.
I also think Mr. McDonough should show some respect for the members of the Independence Day Committee and the parade marshals, who contribute huge amounts of time and energy to make these events happen and don’t get paid a cent for it. I find it pretty insulting that he called us a “gang” and a “hit squad” in his press release. We have to deal with all kinds of petty squabbles and obnoxious behavior before and during the parade, and we manage to stay polite and civil. Can’t we expect our elected officials to follow the same standards of behavior that their constituents do?
Mr. McDonough mentioned a “spirit of compromise” as a way to resolve this issue. This spirit is not engendered by throwing insults and personal attacks at hard-working volunteers who are just trying to help their town celebrate Independence Day. Although I note that the Delegate listed the “spirit of compromise” third, after legislation and lawsuits; maybe that means that those two are his preferred methods of solving problems.
David S. Blum