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Stephen And Virginia Pearcy Update - A Letter From A Neighbor

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stephen_virginia_pearcy.jpg There are a few more things to add in the hanging soldier effigy fiasco that Stephen and Virginia Pearcy have attained fifteen minutes of fame for.

First, E-Claire has tipped me to Curmudgeonly & Skeptical, who took the pictures of the Pearcy's Porsche Boxster from my post here and modified it to show what he would do to the car if he found it.

Second, Riehl World View has tipped me to the photo at left of the proud Pearcy's in front of the hanging soldier effigy that has made them America's sweethearts.

Finally, we have this letter (below in full) written by a doctor and neighbor of the Pearcy's telling of the trials and tribulations the neighborhood has faced over the years at the hands of the peaceful Pearcy's. What it amounts to is leaving a bag of flaming crap on someone's doorstep everyday while you sleep peacefully far away in Berkeley not having to deal with the fallout.

I am writing this letter to explain to you the true story from the perspective of the next-door neighbor of the purported first amendment crusaders. This is not merely a simple story about first amendment rights. The story goes beyond the arguments surrounding the Ward Churchill debate. This is a story about angry, hateful words and symbols protected by the first amendment, directed not only at the general public but also towards those with names and faces.... human beings who walk out of their homes headed to work every day only to see what venom has been spewed that day. A few points......

#1 Did you know, in fact, that the effigy had been up for at least 3 weeks before the media got wind of it? Were you aware that events/displays of this sort have been going on for nearly 2 years? This is just the pinnacle of their offensiveness. I have lived next door to the Pearcy's over that entire period save for the last 6 months since they don't even live in that house anymore. The Pearcy's now reside in Berkeley and only come back to our neighborhood on weekends to change their signs (signs which are not present at their actual residence in Berkeley, by their own admission) [see more info and pics on some of the signs at my entry here - Digger]. This is a very key point. From the perspective of their nearest neighbors, this is not just a general political message, this is a personal attack also directed at us. We feel it is meant to antagonize and anger us. Why else would they not sell a house that has appreciated approximately $200,000 in value since they bought it 4-5 years ago? They haven’t even had renters for the last 2 months. (The last renters claim to have been harassed until they left shortly after the Pearcy’s learned of their differing political views). Keep in mind our ½ mile long street is a very quiet one with very little traffic other than those who live on our block. Their house is being used only as a stage for their offensive propaganda. We are a trapped and unwilling audience. One might then make the counterpoint that we should just move. But imagine what a prospective home-buyer would think when they see an effigy of a dead soldier hanging by a noose from the house next door. My guess is- "maybe we should make an offer on that other house next to the nice elderly woman with the pretty rose garden." Recently Mr. Pearcy claimed that this horrendous symbol was "meant to spark debate about the war". Has he not been following the national and international news? He must have missed that part of the presidential race over the last year and a half. If, however, the effigy was intended to spark debate on our street, then... Firstly, why wouldn’t they continue to live in this house to participate in the debate instead of rushing back to Berkeley after deploying their hateful symbols? We all know that the first amendment does not protect those who cry "fire" in a crowded room. Does it protect those who light the fire, cry "fire", run off to Berkeley while those whom they locked in are left without even a drop of water with which to fight? Secondly, we, the neighbors, did not want to debate the issue any further as we felt it would only lead to more anger and unhappiness. Shockingly, both have resulted.

It is very unfair to subject their neighbor's to this day in and day out. I'm sure the Pearcy's could care less though since they don't have to suffer any retribution for their actions since they don't actually reside there.

#2 How about the use of a noose? The soldier was hanging from the house by a noose wrapped around the neck (the head being a balled-up American flag). The question here is what is free speech and what is hate speech. Is it okay to hang anything from a noose, let alone an effigy of soldier?
This is a question I have been asking since I started covering this. As a matter of fact my weekly poll addresses this question directly. You can vote in the poll on the left navbar and make comments on the poll question here.
#3 Are you aware of the previous political statements that have been on display for us to see?
  • Sign - "no SUV’s". [see pictures of the Pearcy's Porsche with the sign on it at my entry here - Digger] Please note that the Pearcy’s Porsche was parked in the driveway all the while. To their credit, they did finally sell the car after the emissions report for their own vehicle and the hypocrisy was pointed out many times.
  • Palestinian Flag - [see pictures of the Palestinian and Iraqi Flags at my entry here - Digger] this generally wouldn't bother me as they had expressed a desire to show solidarity toward an oppressed people. My concern was why the flag would keep going up for a while and then come down again. Keeping up with the news as I do, the flag, interestingly, seemed to go on display after a "suicide" bombing of Israeli civilians.
  • Iraqi Flag - I have no problem with this.
  • Sign - "Arnold= {swastika}" at the time of the California recall. Perhaps the Pearcy’s are unaware of an entity called the Simon Wiesenthal Center.
  • Sign - "only an idiot will vote for the idiot", amended to "only idiots voted for the idiot" after George W. Bush's reelection. [see pictures of the sign at my entry here - Digger] These are general statements but keep in mind there were multiple neighbors very nearby (and the Pearcy’s tenants of the very same Marty Way property in question) with small Bush/Cheney campaign signs displayed at their homes. It seems to me at the very least inappropriate and an insult directed at us. The Pearcy’s cannot claim that this is a good way to spark a meaningful debate.
  • Let's review the definition of the word idiot...

    1. A foolish or stupid person.
    2. A person of profound mental retardation having a mental age below three years and generally being unable to learn connected speech or guard against common dangers. The term belongs to a classification system no longer in use and is now considered offensive.

    I hope that this letter confirms my having learned connected speech. Otherwise, you may have another great story to tell - That being how my wife and I were able to complete medical school with mental ages below three years.

  • Sign- "f___ Bush", "f___" the police, "f___" the US Government, "f___" Israel, "f___ SUV’s", "burn American flags". Of course the entire f___ word was spelled out on the sign. [see pictures of the sign at my entry here - Digger] Appropriate in a neighborhood with children? Likely to stimulate civil debate? Ironically, the Pearcy’s made a public plea for the very same police to protect them once much of the response to the effigy was negative. Also note that this sign was on their Porsche.
  • American flag hanging out of trash can on the street.
  • American flag hanging from a noose from a tree in the front yard. [see pictures of the noosed flag at my entry here - Digger]
I don't have pictures of the Arnold = Swastika sign or the American flag hanging from the trash. If there are any readers out there with pictures of these things or other Pearcy antics contact me and I'll tell you where to send them so they can be put on the website.

As for the letter writer above having no issues with the Iraqi flag, I'd like to point out what many of my commenters have noted on the website. The Iraqi flag the Pearcy's choose to use is that of the flag under the rule of Saddam Hussein with the Arabic writing across the middle, not the new Iraqi flag that has the writing removed. Whether this was deliberate on the part of the Pearcy's -- which I wouldn't find surprising -- or whether it was because that was the only Iraqi flag they had on hand, we will probably never know.

#4 Did you know that there have been heated exchanges between neighbors over the last 18 plus months resulting in the Police coming by on numerous occasions as well as the FBI being made aware of the case?

Please be advised that those most affected by this on a daily basis were neither the one's who contacted the media nor the ones who tore down the effigy. The last thing we wanted was for an ignoramus like this to get publicity and potentially somehow become seen as a victim. Based on the fact that the Pearcy's never sought a more public display to catch broader attention I believe that it is clear that these political messages were not originally intended for a widespread audience. I hope people can understand how we, the neighbors, who have to see this whenever we're at home, are completely tired of the Pearcy's antics. What ever happened to "love thy neighbor"? Does the first amendment trump all else at all times? How would you feel if you and your children lived next door to a man who knows how to tie a noose and then displays it in the way that he does? How is that not hateful speech? The last time I checked, nooses are used in executions, suicide, and lynchings; not by the boy scouts.

I write to you as the neighbor who never agreed with the Pearcy's ideology but respected their rights. For the first year my wife and I were on fairly good terms with the Pearcy's despite the conflicts that arose with others on the block. We either ignored the signs or laughed. The laughter occasionally from finding the signs genuinely funny, the rest of the time laughing at displays of utter ignorance from those who clearly know little of the world. Indeed, the Pearcy’s claim to have only left the US once... to Canada for a brief trip. I tried to act as peacemaker last summer when things seemed to be spiraling out of control. We talked in circles for about an hour and a half. I addressed several issues. 1) Pleading with Mr. Pearcy, I asked him to tone down his actions for the sake of peace on our block. I assumed since he apparently wants peace in the world (also an assumption) that he might understand my pleas for peace on our street. Unfortunately, the response I got over and over again was "but they are trying to suppress my free speech". If only Mr. Rogers were still alive to hear this! "Hey won’t you be my neighbor?". 2) I told Mr. Pearcy that I thought he intended to win people over to his way of thinking. He acknowledged this as the truth. We then delved into the nuances of personal interaction and how one might win over one's opponents. Mr. Pearcy did not agree that offending such individuals was not a particularly effective method to gain support. Despite much recent evidence, it seems I still have yet to win him over on this. 3) I suggested that since he wasn’t working he might use his voluminous free time to pursue his stated goals in a more constructive, less offensive way. 4) We then talked about why he felt the need to continue to get progressively more offensive. His response was that he felt some of the neighbors were trying to intimidate him by flying their American flags! Starting to feel very concerned at this point, I told Mr. Pearcy that I hope he did not consider me as trying to intimidate him since I was about to fly my own flag. Take note that this discussion was less than one week before Independence Day. I couldn’t believe that any American could be intimidated by the symbol of his own country, especially surrounding the celebration of the day of its independence. I can understand how it might have been intimidating to the Third Reich, Tojo, Stalin, Khrushchev, Saddam Hussein, etc., but an American? This concerns me gravely. 5) Finally, I tried to help him understand the irony of displaying the Palestinian flag and the Iraqi flag while hanging the American flag from a noose. The one hanging from the noose, the symbol of the very country whose Bill of Rights gives him the freedom to have such a disgraceful display. I assured him he would not have such luck doing so with the Palestinian or Iraqi flags in their respective territories. In fact, our troops are still fighting bravely in Iraq so that one day soon the citizens of Iraq may have a Bill of Rights of their own. All of my words did not fall on deaf ears, but ears which didn't seem to be connected to the same part of the cerebral cortex as mine or most other reasonable people. They appear to be connected to a seizure focus that keeps discharging the words "first amendment rights", occasionally giving way to a second focus that fires off "free speech" and little else.

Whether or not this ultimately is confirmed legally as "hate speech" one cannot argue that it is hateful speech. I hope we all agree that our neighborhoods are not the appropriate venue for such displays. What Mr. Pearcy failed to understand at the time of my failed attempt at reasoning with him last year is that just because his neighbors ask him not to put his signs up does not equate to his claim of "suppression of my free speech". He would still be free to make his message known in many different ways and possibly to a willing, or at least non-trapped, audience.

I feel sorry for all of the individuals who have come to express their support for the Pearcy’s "cause". They have come under the pretense that the Pearcy’s are just regular individuals who are being denied their first amendment rights. After having an opportunity to discuss respectfully the whole story with some of these people, they have realized that they have been duped. A vital point for these individuals goes back to the sign stating all those who would vote for Bush are idiots. Remember the three young renters? They signed a one year lease in approximately August of 2004. Why are they no longer there? I will let these women speak for themselves but I will mention a few facts known to me. The renters claim to have been harassed by Mr. Pearcy, receiving multiple e-mails a day and frequent visits. Shortly after he discovered the Bush/Cheney sign in the window of their now-rental property, Mr. Pearcy, they allege, became upset and threatened to paint the entire house with Kerry’s name among other things. Shortly thereafter, the tenants came home to find the five foot long "idiot" sign in their front yard and the Palestinian flag flying from the roof. When one tenant began to take pictures of the display Mr. Pearcy threatened litigation. Shortly thereafter there were no longer three nice young women living next-door. Apparently to Mr. Pearcy the first amendment only applies when it involves his words. Those who demand that all of their "speech" must be tolerated, no matter how offensive, while trying to intimidate those with a differing ideology could not be a better example of the word hypocrite.

The negative impact the Pearcy’s have had goes well beyond the few bordering homes on Marty Way, as we have all seen. It now has neighbors arguing and has inflamed much of the public to the point of causing mayhem and disorder. There are news cameras here every day and constant vehicle traffic on our once-quiet street. The Pearcy’s have created the mess and then disappeared to leave the neighbors to deal with the consequences. We have also seen people trespass on the Pearcy’s property. Regrettably, this just allows the Pearcy’s to position themselves as the victims. The real victims are the neighbors and, most importantly, those who have served in the military in defense of this country and the Constitution and Bill of Rights that are its foundation. I cannot believe that this is just an issue about Republican vs. Democrat or conservative vs. liberal. The latest displays are about right and wrong. Life is very complex and although the first amendment is one of the most vital instruments to protect our wonderful democracy, civil human interaction is guided by many more principles. To be an American and a good neighbor requires compromise and decency. Behavior by the Pearcy’s, such as I have described, certainly has a claim to neither.

The Pearcy’s have crossed the Rubicon, only this time they are not Julius Caesar and Marty Way is not Rome. We intend to win peace back on our street without succumbing to the misguided will of our "neighbor". Above all, we just want the Pearcy’s to take down their offensive displays or sell their house/soapbox so that we can get back to our lives... lives which, contrary to the Pearcy’s assumption, already include vigorous civil debate and constant critical appraisal of our government, Republican or Democrat. The anger on this street is temporary but the anger in Mr. Pearcy’s heart, I fear, is permanent.

Thank you for your attention. Hopefully this sheds some light upon the true story. If this story dies in the media, it would be a relief to many of us. If it doesn't, I beg you to tell the story as it actually is.

For those who would abuse the first amendment, I will leave you with a quote from its author...

‘Do not separate text from historical background. If you do, you will have perverted and subverted the Constitution, which can only end in a distorted, bastardized form of illegitimate government.’ - James Madison


(name deleted)
2734 Marty Way
Sacramento, CA 95818

P.S. Shortly after Mr. Pearcy announced to the TV cameras that there would be no more effigies, we had the opportunity to talk. I made all of the points to him that I have made above. He has no response to this and tells me that he plans to continue to bring other signs/symbols to our street as he sees fit. Apparently he thinks we still need to learn our lesson.

This neighbor has said it all and I can't possibly add much more to it.

For the latest and past news on Stephen and Virginia Pearcy be sure to see the Diggers Realm Stephen And Virginia Pearcy Archives

This entry is in the following archive(s):

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Posted by Digger on February 24, 2005 04:16 AM (Permalink)

» The Blog from the Core linked with Blogworthies LVI
» Pink Kitty's Scratching Post linked with Fashion Advice for the Leftist Set
» damnum absque injuria linked with Steven and Virginia Pearcy, Slumlords
» Knowledge Is Power: SondraK.com linked with Moonbats in all their Glory
» The Interocitor linked with "Hanging Soldier Effigy" House For Rent
» Dummocrats.com linked with Stephen And Virginia Pearcy Update - A Letter From A Neighbor
» Darleen's Place linked with Preeminent Post on Pernicious Pearcy Perfidy
» Yippee-Ki-Yay! linked with Fightin' Words
» Hyscience linked with The Strange Story of Stephen And Virginia Pearcy: Free speech or just a case of too much hate?
» Knowledge Is Power: SondraK.com linked with polling station
» Knowledge Is Power: SondraK.com linked with polling station
» Six Meat Buffet linked with More on Amerikkka's Sweethearts
» Cranky Neocon linked with First Amendment Expression - My Neighbor Is An Inconsiderate Scumbag

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I'm not a lawyer, but I do know there are different rules for business behavior than there are for personal behavior.

I seem to recall that in California a Christian landlord could not require his cohabiting tenants to be married, or in another instance heterosexual. Surely putting signs up with derogatory words for homosexuals would have been illegal.

Further, a lessee has a right to "quiet enjoyment" of the property during the lease term, and the lessor, in particular, cannot interfere with that.

Additionally, commerical signage laws may apply.

In short, the fact that the Percys do not live in the house, and have rented it, changes everything.

Posted by: Kevin Murphy on February 24, 2005 11:34 AM

Simply amazing. Great continuous work on this story Digger. The letter just confirms what many of us have said about those who protest in such a way. We must respect their right to free speech but when we disagree with them, they try to silence us.

Posted by: Chad on February 24, 2005 11:57 AM

Thanks. You provided a wonderful compilation of the situation.

Posted by: Ralph on February 24, 2005 03:07 PM

Seems to me that if I rented the house, I am standing as owner for the time I rent it and so long as I do not damage the house, the landlord cannot trespass without my permission except to check that all is well. I think the renters have a case against the landlord for what he did to the house while they rented it. I think it goes beyond the concept of "quiet enjoyment" in that case. Of course I may also be totally off the wall. Wouldn't be the first time.

I'm surprised, under the circumstances, that there has not been a case of arson (unexplained and unsolved) on this house.

Posted by: dick on February 24, 2005 07:44 PM

"fifteen minutes"

At this point it seems like more than that. Anyway, you're partly responsible.

I think it would not be all that difficult to find worse neighbors, at least in my experience. Landlords? Going by the letter, that might be tougher. Not that any kind of trouble a bad neighbor (or landlord) causes can or should be dismissed, as the letter shows.

I see here you don't call them "America Haters", which I found a little childish.

Posted by: eh on February 25, 2005 07:02 AM

You find me calling them "America Haters" childish, yet they are hanging an American flag by a noose, placing statements saying fuck the government and fuck the police all over their car. I'd say that is quite childish and America hating and I'll call them on it.

Their 15 minutes may have ticked past their alloted time and if I'm the cause of that so be it. I hope to make them have to take responsibility for the hell they are putting their neighbors through and the hate they are spewing. So, if that means keeping the roaches in the spotlight rather than letting them try and run off to Berkeley once again to hide, so be it.

Posted by: Digger on February 25, 2005 08:23 AM

Maybe it somewhat depends on how you define "America". Personally, I would not necessarily put "the government" or "the police", or what they do, at the top of my list of what "America" means. So therefore nor would I automatically label people who author epithets directed at them "America Haters". But that's just me.

A bit more personally, your use of the term reminded me of the very recent past when people who didn't think the invasion of Iraq was an especially good idea were called similar things, which to be honest I got more than a tad fed up with.

"the hell"

I think this is an exaggeration, isn't it? But perhaps this is mostly subjective, and surely I don't know all the facts, just as I am certainly not one of their neighbors. One of your links calls them 'inconsiderate scumbags', and considering that being inconsiderate enough probably does make one a "scumbag", this is hard to argue with.

"take responsibility"

What would you like to see them do? Besides stop the idiotic displays? Which is probably not going to happen.

"hate they are spewing"

I think it's pretty clear they take full responsibility for that. In fact they seem to pretty much relish doing it, no doubt partly because it seems to tick some people off so much. And childish definitely describes that.

Posted by: eh on February 25, 2005 09:03 AM

I guess you're right, eh. There are worse neighbors.

The "taking responsibility" *I* would like to see the Pearcys do is facing the response / reaction engendered by their displays. As they have demonstrated an utter and complete lack of tolerance for any view other than their own, and insisted on ramming their own down the throats of their neighbors, mayhaps a little of that same medicine is in order.

Posted by: Claire on February 25, 2005 10:00 AM

Rather than America haters I would call them really psychotic. Why would anyone move to another area and then go to all the trouble of making their previous home a showcase for beliefs that are totally against the tenor of the old neighborhood. It seems that if these beliefs are so strongly held then the displays would be in their new location rather than in the location they left. Otherwise the displays are there only to stir up the old neighborhood and poke a stick in the eye of their old neighbors. In any case this kind of behavior is not a healthy way to act and there should be some way to handle it. Why should the old neighbors have to bear the brunt of the controversy caused by these POS who used to live in their neighborhood. I would think that removal of the offensive materials to their new neighborhood would be the first line of defense to their actions. Put the stuff up where they are living now and let them try to explain to their new neighbors what their beliefs entail. In no case should be the old neighbors have to live with this crap. Isn't there something about being able to have "quiet enjoyment" of my home in the laws so that you can cover anything you do in retaliation to these scummy neighbors?

Posted by: dick on February 25, 2005 10:47 AM

The chairman of Orrick, the law firm which employs Ms. P, may be interested in hearing from this neighbor.

Orrick's website, under "community responsibilities" states: "Orrick lawyers and professional staff share a commitment and responsibility to enhance the communities in which we live and work."

The chairman's last name is Baxter, and his email is listed.

Posted by: Anon on February 25, 2005 05:21 PM

If that idiot live in my neighborhood and did that, I would tell him that the 1st Amendment does NOT protect fighting words, and he is clearly "protesting" in such a way as to provoke a fight. And I'd give him a fight that he sure as H*ll would be sorry he started. That is, if he were still around to regret it. Not only that, when he was at the property, I would drag my ladder over there and tear his chicken-$h** protest down.

Posted by: Wooba Gooba on February 27, 2005 07:09 PM

>>>As for the letter writer above having no issues with the Iraqi flag, I'd like to point out what many of my commenters have noted on the website. The Iraqi flag the Pearcy's choose to use is that of the flag under the rule of Saddam Hussein with the Arabic writing across the middle, not the new Iraqi flag that has the writing removed. Whether this was deliberate on the part of the Pearcy's -- which I wouldn't find surprising -- or whether it was because that was the only Iraqi flag they had on hand, we will probably never know.

Well, alert George Bush, 'cause he's been flyin' a nasty ol' Saddam-style flag at the White House!


And alert the Iraqis about that thar newfangled flag !



Posted by: camper on March 8, 2005 12:48 AM

If this is the same Virginia Pearcy who is on IMC, she is a Nazi, not a lefty...What they call a Paleo-Conservative (Pat Buchananites) They have havens at antiwar.com and Vdare.com and Lewrockwell.com and many of their posts also end up on former grand wizard of the KKK, David Duke's website!

Here is what the Jew Hater had too say:
"Not only Zionism, as the political expresion of the Jews, must be stopped. AIPAC and all other instruments of Jewish organizational world control, like the Rotary Club, the Masons, the Democratic Party, etc must be stopped. The Jews must all be identified and removed to somewhere they can't do any harm. It has become the task of the Left in America to accomplish this. The IMC network is a great place to start."

Just to let you know I am a Jew that hates zionism and AIPAC but I also hate much of the middle eastern governments because they are run by crazy fascists. I am truly anti war and very pro soldier (though not their mission but supporting them as humans and bringing them home with their friends and familys not sending them off to die anywhere) I am a rabid anti racist and do not take sides, if they are on the left or the right I will gladly go after them because I cannot and will not tolerate racism or fascism or sexism or any of those nasty-isms

Posted by: No to Racism Left or Right! on April 28, 2007 01:59 AM

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