The tombstones referenced the petitioning neighbors by name, and each contained a date of death based on that neighbor’s address. For example, one tombstone referencing a neighbor named Betty Gargarz stated:
Bette wasn’t ready,But here she liesEver since that night she died,12 feet deep in this trench,Still wasn’t deep enoughFor that wenches stench!1690
The Seventh Circuit recognized the validity of the plaintiffs’ First Amendment claim. While the court noted that the tombstones were intended to elicit “an emotional response” from the neighbors, they were not “the sort of provocatively abusive speech that inherently tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace” such that they would be considered unprotected speech under the “fighting words” doctrine.
October 24, 2011
Just one section of an article — PDF — in the New York State Bar Association Journal about Halloween-related lawsuits. (Via ABAJournal.)