LAKEHURST – Tenants renting a house on the corner of Route 70 and Orchard Street voluntarily removed a profanity-laced political flag from their residence last week.
According to Robert McGlyn, 44, his live-in girlfriend took down the flag after a visit from the local police department.
“The chief and another officer came to the house and asked me to remove the flag,” said McGlyn. “They didn’t order me to take it down. My girlfriend just didn’t want any drama.”
McGlyn said he purchased the flag from someone who set up a stand across the street from his Route 70 home. The banner bore the message “F**k Biden” and offered a similar directive to everyone who voted for the sitting president.
Those traveling on Route 70 could easily see the flag displayed from the front of McGlyn’s residence. One of the issues that surfaced during McGlyn’s conversation with local authorities was the concern that schoolchildren walk past the flags on their way to Lakehurst Elementary School.
A flag advocating for Trump in 2020 adorns the fence on the Orchard Street side of the home.
“The main reason I bought the (Biden) flag was because of the dumb sh*t he did in Afghanistan,” said McGlyn. “The police were really gentlemen when they explained they got a couple of complaints about the flag.”
“I’m not even sure schoolchildren did see it,” McGlyn shared. “Words shouldn’t be offensive to anybody or their kids. I see it as an infringement of my rights.”
McGlyn saw no issues with children using or seeing profanity. His ten-year-old daughter lives with him in the house where the flag flew for a short time. He would have no problem with her using the “F” word if she accidentally fell and shouted it out, for example.
In a social media post, McGlyn reiterated his right to fly the flag and wanted to know who called the police to report him. He suggested that denying his right to do so was akin to living in a communist country.
When asked for commentary on the issue, Lakehurst residents presented a variety of views. Some agreed with McGlyn’s position, while others found the flag inappropriate.
“I do believe it is freedom of speech no matter where it is,” said Sean Carman. “..A display of profanity was fine, and his way of showing how feels about the puppet we have running this country into the ground and his sheep.”
Decades ago, George Carlin did a comedic bit on what he said were “The Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television.” Not surprisingly, the “F” word made the list. While the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) continues to regulate what happens on the air, their jurisdiction obviously stops there.
A Roselle Park woman faced fines earlier this year when she refused to remove a sign similar to the one displayed on McGlyn’s lawn. The small Union County borough had an obscenity ordinance in place.
In late July, ACLU-NJ announced that a superior court judge dismissed the Roselle Park woman’s case. The civil liberties advocacy organization also issued a statement concerning their participation in the case.
“The First Amendment exists specifically to make sure people can express strong opinions on political issues – or any other matter – without fear of punishment by the government,” stated ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha. “Today’s decision confirms that our position was correct: Roselle Park had no grounds to issue fines for a political sign, and the town’s use of its obscenity ordinance infringed upon fundamental rights protected by the First Amendment. It was an uncomplicated case.”
Bobbi Johnson-Pratt has lived in Lakehurst since 1974. She worked as a school crossing guard at the intersection of Route 70 and Orchard Street for approximately four or five years. Johnson-Pratt said the sign was easily visible from a couple of directions and added an unnecessary distraction.
“Some people who call themselves Republicans like to say they stand for family values,” Johnson-Pratt said. They’d be screaming their heads off if someone displayed an ‘F’ Trump flag.”
“There is freedom of speech, and then, there is your moral compass towards others,” continued Johnson-Pratt. “It’s a shame there are Republicans out there trying to do the right thing and are being run over by their own party.”
One of the issues is that what constitutes morality may well be in the ears or eyes of the beholder. Like McGlyn, not everyone seems to think children need to be sheltered from what some consider obscene speech.
“Most kids are already cursing while out in public with their friends anyway,” posted Matty St. Germain. “Most parents refuse to acknowledge it or believe their own precious angels are a part of it.”
As far as Scott Neuman is concerned, the whole thing comes down to a lack of class. He provided his views on people who used the word to make a point.
“You can say it, but you get the same mentality agreeing with you,” Neuman wrote. “Loud and classless and clueless supporting a guy that lied to the voters (and still does to today with the big lie) 30,000 times in four years. At least Biden is trying and not living on the golf course.”
Lakehurst Police Chief Matthew Kline did not respond to a request for comments on this matter. The Lakehurst governing body is all-Republican.