Decoration or racism?

Ken David said it's no secret he is a Mitt Romney supporter. But that doesn't mean the lawn chairs hanging in his frontyard are an attack on President Barack Obama, or anyone else for that matter.
Becky Vargo
Sep 27, 2012

 

Area residents are calling the display racist and an attack on the Democratic president. They say the hanging chair is symbolic of lynching Obama.

David said it’s “absolutely not” an attack — it’s a decoration.

“People decorate their trees all the time,” he said. “We’re no different than anyone else.”

David and his wife, Judy, live at 15896 Comstock St., across the street from Peach Plains Elementary School. He strung metal lawn chairs from trees on their property on Monday. One of them is next to the driveway. The other one hangs next to the road, not far from a sign that says, “Take Back Our Country in November.”

David said he saw a police car with an officer shining a spotlight at the chairs on Monday night.

On Wednesday morning, Ottawa County Sheriff’s deputies stopped and talked to David about the chairs. A complaint had apparently been made by someone at the school, David said.

The homeowner said he has done nothing wrong.

“This is my property. I have the right to freedom of expression,” David said.

Some members of the Tri-Cities area think David has taken that expression too far.

“There are all sorts of incidences of this (chair hanging) happening across the country,” said Grand Haven Township resident Ed Ketterer, who has a child attending Peach Plains. “... I don’t buy it that the chair doesn’t have the racial connotation."

Just sitting on the ground, the chair would not be a problem, Ketterer said.

“It’s kind of funny — it’s mocking what (Clint) Eastwood did at the convention," Ketterer said, referring to a speech the actor made at the Republican National Convention in August, next to an empty chair representing President Obama. “When you hang it from a tree, you take it to a new level."

Ketterer said there is no way David would not know what the empty chair represents.

“To me, it’s not about rights, it’s about decency,” Ketterer said. “I wouldn’t condone it anywhere.”

In an e-mail to the Tribune, another area resident said she was also disturbed by the hanging chair.

“I’m all for freedom of speech," Donna Timmer wrote, "but when my granddaughter asked what it meant, it was hard to explain.”

Ketterer said he had the same problem with his third-grade son.

“We talked around the issue,” he said. “We said it was a political sign and that it was against President Obama.”

 

Comments

AtomicRooster

When God was handing out brains you thought he said trains and replied; No thank you. Don't like my comments? TOUGH!!!

Tri-cities realist

Labeling someone as "mentally disturbed" is a well known tactic of the Marxist left. Yawn.

Vast Right Wing...

Hanging a chair is racism? But, nothing is wrong when the liberals posted signed advocating the murder of Pres. Bush, picturing Pres. Bush as Hitler, using profane language to describe Pres Bush, etc? Michael Savage is right, "Liberalism is a mental disorder"

hodog999

Get a grip now vast........easy does it....you don't want your mental disorder to show

Vast Right Wing...

typical liberal, starting the personal attacks when the facts hit you in the face

Lanivan

Your disrespect and outright loathing for those who think differently than you is a shame. America has been made up of people of the liberal, conservative, and "everything in between" persuasion for centuries. Racism can be found in many areas of society. It doesn't make it right. Please don't take the easy and simplistic way out and just blame everything bad on "liberals" and our President. Actually, you might be surprised how many people you like and enjoy, perhaps neighbors, co-workers, or even family members, tend to be more liberal-minded on some issues or perhaps even plan to vote for President Obama. I personally know many Republicans who plan to vote for Obama. To accuse those who think differently than you of having a "mental disorder" is beyond the pale, and is offensive to those who do struggle with real mental disorders. And, sorry, your attempt to turn this commentary from racism to a rant on liberalism just doesn't cut it.

Tri-cities realist

Lanivan, if you know many RINO republicans who plan to vote for obama, please ask them to change their political affiliation to democrat or independent. We don't need any more pollution of the GOP from within. (and for some reason my BS radar went off with the word "many", but only you will know the truth)

Lanivan

It is absolutely true, and I am as surprised as you. The GOP began alienating me about 3-4 years ago when it became hijacked by the extreme far right of the party - no compromise, so much hate and disrespect for Obama and most everybody and everything else except their rich partners in crime, putting party before country, etc. I find Obama to be a very intelligent, thoughtful, and strong leader - not perfect, but very good for our times. As we get closer to the election, and see what a very poor candidate Romney is, how bizarre the Republican primaries were, the refusal to address economic issues but spending obscene amounts of money on the War on Women and proposals to cut spending on our indigent children while refusing to eliminate the temporary tax cuts on the wealthy.....well, many of my friends and family have decided they've had enough, and are voting for Obama.

Tri-cities realist

"refusal to address economic issues", you were referring to Obama, right? Romney has not been elected yet, so other than his proposals, he has little power to change anything yet, as opposed to Obama. And as for hate, the left is so lovable and cuddly to republicans, right? Have you watched MSNBC lately? (I know hardly anyone but the extreme left watch them anymore). And speaking of compromise, what has Obama compromised on? And please enlighten me why Romney is such a poor candidate. Is it because he was a successful businessman that created and protected many more jobs than were eliminated? Or is it because he was able to turn around the flailing Salt Lake City Olympics when others were failing? Or perhaps he was a governor and actually worked with Democrats in Massachusetts? No that can't be it because I thought you wanted a president who would work with the other party. So I'm confused, please help me understand your rationale. And as for tax rates on the "wealthy", how much of their income should we tax? 40%, 50%, 75%, or should the govt just take 100% of their income? Please help me understand, since they already pay the highest rate, which of course means they pay the largest share in gross dollars, of all income tax dollars. I eagerly await your response.

northernnewyork

I am not with him or against him. I am on the fence about it. But what you "all" fail to remember is that our President is not just an African-American, He is African-American/ Caucasian. Our President is a Milato. I think that's where people fail to remember, So I am not sure this is a "racist " act. Everyone has their right to "freedom of Speech " . You all out there that are quick to "judge" someone on what they believe in, are wrong. We all have different beliefs. Remember that one of these day's you all will be "judged" as well. But again, our President is a Milalto.

teach27

Just FYI.... it's "Mulato"

Zeke

Just FYI... It's actually "mulatto". If you're going to try making someone look like an idiot then at least be right!

Also FYI... most people of mixed ethnicity consider it a derogatory word.

wolfgang

:)

teach27

Actually, Thanks Zeke. You're right... it is spelled with two "t's." The DATED English spelling of the word is with one "t," which is also how it is spelled in Spanish, and being that I'm fluent in both Spanish and English, confusion arose. Thanks for "teaching" the teacher today :)

wolfgang

Why are there quotations where they do not belong? Why are there capital letters in wrong places? And periods belong inside quotation marks. And the word "day's," does not get an apostrophe. You should come to my high school English class. We can read The Autobiography of Frederick Douglass together, and I will hep you with your grammar. Maybe somewhere in between those two, you'll experience some obviously necessary personal growth.

GH Cyclist

Unbelievable

GH430

Oh the irony... "Those who judge others are wrong! Well, not "wrong" per se, because to say THAT would be judgmental, which is wrong, I think. But you know what I'm saying, right?"

Highlander

Do you call him a "milato/milalto" out of "pride" that our diverse country elected a president who is "diverse"? Or are you reffering to his bi-racialness to discount? And with our "freedom of speech" comes responsibility to practice that freedom- especially across from an elementary. Would you support the man if he would burn an American flag, hang the flag upside down (a sign of distress), or have a sign calling Bush a "murderer and war atrocitiesc" criminal etc., across from the elementary? If you would support that, then your argument for "freedom of speech" is valid.

teach27

First, NorthernNewYork... it's Mulato, not milato. Secondly, that has no bearing on Mr. David's decision. He is hanging them out of hatred, and I believe even you know that. Please don't hide behind his "decor" argument because you cannot come up with a justification that any person would declare to be decent.

I teach children... specifically children of many cultures and languages. I am so saddened, not that Mr. David is voting for Romney or a Republican, or believes that our "country is lost and must be taken back." I am saddened that our children are learning how people abuse their freedom of expression and right to free speech, in order to display hatred.

You are setting a bad example Mr. David. If our students at the elementary learn to create change through hatred, our country WILL be lost. Please continue to express your support of Romney, and disapproval of Obama. However, it was horrible for people to spit on veterans of Vietnam some decades back, and it's horrible what you are doing now. Put your chairs next to your signs. They don't have any place in the trees, other than to express the hatred in your heart. I hope you are not a bad person, and simply just misguided.

Zeke

Don't try to make someone look stupid when you're stupid too.

It's spelled mulatto - two t's genius.

teach27

Actually, Thanks Zeke. You're right... it is spelled with two "t's." The DATED English spelling of the word is with one "t," which is also how it is spelled in Spanish, and being that I'm fluent in both Spanish and English, confusion arose. Thanks for "teaching" the teacher today :)

Tri-cities realist

Teach27, if you want to see real hatred on display, watch MSNBC for a few minutes, you'll increase their viewership by a few percentage points. Mr. David's "art" pales in comparison to the garbage that is spewed on that network.

Bazz56

This fellow hangs chairs from the trees and you go nuts. What about the real threat in Detroit by muslims who are outright threatening the people of Israel? Are they a bad influence on America's what do they stand for mr karate man.

MR. WILLIAMS

Even though their may be an issue in Detroit, it has nothing directly to do with this story.

GH430

I say it's a great teaching opportunity. "Students, this is what freedom of speech looks like. This is also what ignorance looks like. Now go back to class so you don't become like this man." What a great incentive for the students to work hard and make something of themselves. Seriously, let the man have his display because this is probably all he has in life - well, that and his opinion.

MR. WILLIAMS

Quoting the Grand Haven Tribune; Area residents are calling the display racist and an attack on the Democratic president. They say the hanging chair is symbolic of lynching Obama. David said it’s “absolutely not” an attack — it’s a decoration.
“People decorate their trees all the time,” he said. “We’re no different than anyone else.” I’d almost believe the man with two first names, except for him saying, “We’re no different than anyone else.” I beg to differ. First of all, most people are truthful and second, if you are so intent on stating and displaying your Political and Other points of view, then why don’t you just come out and say exactly what the Red Chairs Hanging from the Trees really symbolize to you. I have no problem with people stating and standing up for what they believe in and how they feel about something, but to skirt your issue by saying, “People decorate their trees all the time; we’re no different than anyone else,” This caused me to see how people who I know are long time Republican’s feel about the “chair hanging.” Not surprisingly with a sarcastic smile on their faces they (4 people, 2 women and 2 men) all pretty much said the same thing, which was; Well, people do strange things sometimes for unknown reasons that others may judge and call him names which is what happened in this instance. I don’t think hanging chairs in your front yard is anything new or unusual, they’re just decorations. Yeah, and I see flocks of Pink Piggy’s flying in the sky every evening just before sunset. I will say this knowing some people will strongly disagree with me in that; from my personal experience, Republican’s in general will say something that they know is about 1% truth and 99% not true and build a whole story around the 1% as if it’s the complete account of the subject matter well knowing exactly what they’re doing and then go on to speak about their fabrication as if sanctioned by God. The thing is, that their eyes “tell” a different story, one of which also shows in their face, which simply transmits “emptiness,” not full or complete, and I don’t believe anything they say once I find they’ve lied, End Of Story.

Tri-cities realist

I think you meant to say "the left" instead of republicans when you wrote about 99 and 1 %. Liberalism is based on perpetuating lies... End of story.

msugal

Really? 99% of Republicans lie, huh? So exactly what percentage of democrats lie? (and if you say 0%, you're the king of denial & shouldn't throw stones). To make that statement is assuming you know everything about everything that's going on. I seriously doubt that. Are you aware that Moody's downgraded us again? Funny, that was broadcast on the news about 10 days ago at 5:30 in the morning & I never heard it again. My belief is that omitting the truth that frankly would paint our current administration in somewhat of an "unattractive light" is the same as lying, so in that regard, I'd say that's a bunch of democrats LYING. Secondly, are you aware that our current President is "too busy" to meet with the Prime Minister of Israel (our ally the last time I checked) but he's got plenty of time to go on The View. Are you also aware that he's too busy to sit in on the extremely important security meetings that discuss...oh, our SECURITY? I'm sorry Mr. Williams, I believe Mr. Obama is lying about being too busy, I believe the liberal media is lying about Mr. Obama, but if you want to stick your head in the sand & say 99% of Republicans are liars, I'd say "look in the current administration, they way to know their lying is that their lips are moving"

Highlander

The US being "downgraded"? Why was the US "downgraded" the first time? I'm sure you can find who was to blame. Compare how many times previous presidents raised the debt ceiling, compared to President Obama. And what exactly "deep six'd" the global economy, and put the US in the position to needing a debt ceiling raised. Let me remind you, gal, that it began before the present administration took the reigns. Most economists have discussed this. President Obama did not put the bills for two wars on a credit card. Facts. After the crash in '29 caused the Depression, and the US entered WWII, Americans paid higher taxes to pay for the 20 year climb out of economic disaster. Fact. The Gov't (us) paid for WWII, rather than passing it on to grand children. Fact. It was patriotic to sacrifice, to invest in our American society and civilization. It's a lie to put the crash of '08 at the feet of President Obama, just as it would be revisionsit history or a lie to put the crash of '29 at the feet of FDR, Truman or Eisenhour.

While the POTUS may not have met with Netanyahu in person, he did have an in-depth 1.5-2 hour conversation with him over the phone, maybe they "face-timed" or "Skyped" eachother. I'd imagine they re even "Facebook friends". [eyeroll] I'm sure he has reasons to not have met with scores of leaders. If you do not meet with one, perhaps this opens a sort of Pandora's Box? There are issues that pop up at times, schedules change. I'm sure that there were reasons that the public is not privy to. (rational reality)

Secrurity. Reports have shown that Bush knew about Al Queda's internet chatter pointing toward another US attack, and that he ignored reports, studies and rumors of impending intents from Al Queda; 9/11 and did nothing. Economic Security: Its a fact the the Republican legislators played the hand that created the "Down Grade", when everyone knew it wasn't uncommon to raise the debt ceiling.

Liberal media? Please. This is sophomoric rhetoric. The media mirrors it's customers; which explains why the media outlets in West Michigan are anything but "liberal".. Corporations own the media, influence perspectives and headlines. It's a business now, a profit maker which has less to do with truth than $. An American "Free Press" is a thing of the past. Some reporters and journalists may lean left because journalists tend to lean left. For every "liberal" columnist, I'll give you Malkin, Limbaugh, Coulter, O'Reily and Hannity, and all the the others from the highly conservative Fox News talking heads (FN who uses Palin while she was compaigning, and more recently, Romney staffers as reporters/commentators- there goes any modicum of impartiallity). Selling "Fair and Balanced" as truth, while practicing the opposite is....a lie.

biped

Look, the guy's just a nut job and this article is just more food for his twisted ego. Nothing he claims will convince me that his chairs hanging from trees are just decoration. Go to withoutsanctuary.org to see how hundreds of innocent people were killed as the result of racism in the Jim Crow south.

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