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

SrqDude

I'm asking pertinent questions and getting extremist nonsensical remarks. Perhaps you might take a look at yourself to see who is trying to dialogue and learn and who is just taking up space. I disagree, the problem is, you think you had something to say but when your mistake was brought to your attention you can't defend your mistake so you lash out. It's a common action usually taken by the defeated. People who learn from their mistakes admit when they are incorrect.

PeopleAreAmazing

I'm sorry, but you're wrong. If you go to the very top of the thread - you'll see my position very clearly. The rest is responding to people like you - who wallow around in the fringe - trying to demonstrate your amazing intellect - yet, all the while - failing to make a coherent point. I realize that you've joined 14-15 hours ago, and that's fine - but I've yet to see you actually state a solid point that we can evaluate. If you think that by bringing poetry forward from the early stages of the 20th century you're going to fulfill a requirement to influence thought - you'e silly. I have absolutely no problem stating when I'm wrong, but this isn't an issue for right and wrong. It's an issue of belief. And, while you might like it for me to give you the positive strokes for your position over mine - you'll first have to give one to see if that might happen.

SrqDude

Mr./Mrs. Amazing, perhaps you should wake up and follow along. You asked me to find facts to justify statements you said I made. When I asked you to show where I said those things, you couldn't. You made up some sort of story that fulfilled your agenda. When you realized YOU had made a mistake you became dismissive and retorted with something to the affect of me not saying anything. Now do you understand? Again, YOU stated I said something or implied something that I didn't, therefore you are WRONG!

\\\\(used to show paragraphs)Usually a person gains a better understanding of something when they learn it through experience. I don't call people idiots, liberals, racists or other derogatory or inflammatory names. Zealots and extremists usually use words of hate to instill fear. They use them because they don't usually have a valid point to their extremist views. Therefore they think that if people fear them then naturally the fearful will attach themselves to the fear-ed's ideology. I prefer not to make points but rather provide thought provoking words and questions so that you and the other readers can experience the point yourself and come to your own understanding. It seems however that I give people far too much credit.

\\\If you must, my objective in including some poetry by Langston Hughes was to perhaps evoke some empathy. Please look empathy up if you don't clearly know the definition. I don't know if this guy who likes to hang chairs from his tree is a racist. However what I do know is that clearly many people DO consider this a form of racism in its context. What's more concerning to me isn't these politically charged words like "racism", but rather the real people and their feelings that are hurt because of actions like the chair guy. To be clear, these hurt individuals do not have to be people of color. For example, if my grandfather were to do the same thing I would be so embarrassed, ashamed and hurt to know that my grandfather couldn't express himself in a clearer more educated way. My point was for a little self reflection. To think about the person's we are, who we think we are, and who we want to be.

\\\A couple asides, history has influenced EVERYONE'S thoughts; whether it is poetry, finance, politics, art, religion, et cetera. So to your last quip, yes I do think Hughes poetry could effect peoples thinking. However, is it a requirement? I don't know, you said that not me. I never mentioned anything about fulfilling a requirement.

Funda Mentally

The connection is simple, there was a time in our coutries history when black men were lynched, brutally beaten, murdered in a horrific manner, and hung from trees. Now we have chairs symbolizing our first black president, hanging from trees. It is recognized as a racist statement, because that is the intention. When you hang your bird feeder this winter, your intention simply put, is to feed and care for birds.

truthhurts

there was a time in this countries history where the white man was lynched as well. The chair symbolizes what you want it to symbolize...you made the racial connection, are you repressed?

Lanivan

Good point. About 3.446 black people were lunched between 1882-1968 and 1,297 white people were lynched in the same period - mostly, Mexicans, Native Americans, and Chinese.

Lanivan

haha...."lynched, not "lunched"....

truthhurts

what about before that? what about during the civil war or prison camps? were did you get your numbers? The fact is, white people have been lynched as well...you guys have just made the correlation that only blacks have been lynches which is not true...so how can it be racist?...its only racist if you make it racist. When something dies, its the end...they symbolism is of hanging a chair is the end of his term..not the president life.

LessThanAmused

Maybe things have changed since I was in school, but as far as I know....Mexicans, Native Americans and Chinese are NOT members of the white race.

Lanivan

Good point....I should have said "non-black". In other words, that figure includes whites, and other non-whites. I'm happy to clarify.

justthink

It seems clear that this "decoration" is a metaphor for lynching the President. It has been reported as such in the National news. This is not the first instance. As a lifelong Republican I find it offensive and as a resident of Grand Haven I am saddened to see it. I do not believe that Mitt Romney would welcome this as an expression of support, and indeed I do not view it as an expression of support for Gov. Romney. It is a hateful gesture and those defending it, or pretending it is not what it is, are not convincing. It has nothing to do with conservatives or liberals, it is one man making a statement. He certainly has every right to do so, every American would defend that right. That doesn't make it less offensive.

truthhurts

i understand what you are saying. However, your side of the argument has not convinced me that this man or anyone else who has protested in this manner are racist or have a racial undertone... because you can't. Interpret it anyway that you want, it is merely opinion and nothing will become of all this. I may hang a chair as well, symbolic of support to this guy...at least that is how I will interpret it.

Mr. Conservative

lol, look at Zeke's comments

PeopleAreAmazing

Ladies and gentleman! - We have a much more serious issue here than Mr. David! I just googled "hanging chairs as decoration"......and what resulted was 8,440,000 entries on the web.....all racially charged! There are major retail outlets that sell these items - unacceptable! There are examples where people self-designed hanging chairs under the guise of being.....CREATIVE......oh, my. Come on - those of you who are so sure that this reeks of racism have truly gone too far. If you try hard enough - you can use anything as a means to justify a conclusion. But, until you have FACTS - it's only an opinion.

justthink

Hmmmm I googled too, and while I also found a plethora of entries, they were all for hammocks, porch swings, and the like. Chairs that were meant to be suspended for use by occupants in a recreational or restful manner. I didn't find a single lawn chair by a rope in a tree.

PeopleAreAmazing

Who knows.....perhaps his might be considered.....a more simple design? I guess the point is......unless he tells us, or tells someone else, or writes it.......we just won't know. So, all the conjecture is meaningless.

John M

Unfortunately, America has become a sick society of brainwashed ignorant drones. The left hates the right hates the gays hates the Christians hates the Muslims hates the Americans hates the immigrants, to infinity. This is all done on purpose. Our country was taken over a long time ago. Your real enemy, is the federal reserve. They are the ones who control the costs of everything. Their minions in the media keep you all hating each other, while the FED rapes you all. Please turn off your television. Ron Paul, an American Doctor who has delivered 5,000 babies, tells you exactly how it is. He offered you a real chance to change your country. Yet you laughed at him. Enjoy your endless debt, warfare, and slavery. 9-11 WAS an inside job. The US, Vatican, British, and Israel governments are the biggest terrorists, drug dealers, war mongers, and human traffickers on the planet. Everything you think you know about history and our leaders is wrong. msnbc, fox, cnn, and all major media is not news. It is propaganda. The TV teaches you to hate yourself, hate your family, and hate others. TV is a cancer, and after decades of eating at our society, we have become a sick nation. Your enemy is the financial elites who control every aspect of your life. They are not left or right. The left and right is an illusion to keep you diverted so they can rape you and your family. Voting for Obamaromney isnt going to change squat. This is the tragedy of my beloved country. TRUTH IS TREASON IN THE EMPIRE OF LIES

brodennel

Show me how a chairs hanging in a tree ia racist

Mr. Conservative

nobody can put forth legitimate reasoning for how this is racist.

LessThanAmused

Why should anyone here have to show you? Do your own research. Go to a library (We've got a nice one here in town on Columbus Street) or simply Google . Here's a couple links to get you started.

http://www.yale.edu/ynhti/curric...

http://sweetauburn.us/rings/lync...

If you really want to learn about what happened in the world before you got here, educate yourself, it's easier nowadays than ever before and you're less likely to forget if you do the legwork yourself.

Goodluck

horst

Darn, now I can't hang my deer in the tree in my yard this fall because a bunch of hypersensitive pin heads in west Michigan with overactive imaginations will find some racist reason for it.....CUT ALL THE TREES DOWN...PROBLEM SOLVED...sounds stupid doesn't it...right up there with hanging chairs as racist

LessThanAmused

Oh good lord, please stop with the ridiculous attempts to correlate your silly comparisions with the topic at hand. I'd be willing to bet that no one on this forum would think that hanging a deer in your backyard or a bird feeder for that matter is racist, or even out of the norm. If you can't discern between normal behaviour and someone's pathetic attempt to incite then you should stay in your fenced-in backyard. Until this spineless **** stirrer with the two first names is willing to speak out in public and tell us all exactly what those hanging chairs mean to him, it's an exercise in futility for the community to try and reach a consensus. If the man can't stand up and stand behind what he says then he's just another publicity whore who's looking for his 15 minutes of fame. The attention he's getting from the article is much more important to him than his convictions and any political statement that he may be trying to make, otherwise there would be no reason for this debate on why he did what he did and what it means.

Zeke

Those who don't see any racism in hanging these chairs from a tree are quite culturally ignorant at best, or perhaps just downright stupid.

The symbolism is clear. The discussion should revolve around whether he is able to keep them there, not around what he is trying to say.

If you do not see the racist implications please don't bother commenting on this site any more. You're just wasting everyone's time, including your own. Please, by all means, spend the time reading a book or doing something to learn so you can actually contribute intelligently someday and move the dialogue forward rather than wasting everyone's time like you're doing now.

Wingmaster

Is the display stupid, yup. Is it racist? Maybe. He says not. Is it free speech? Your damn right and in this country everybody has the right to it, even if its stupid. Mr David is not hurting anyone and is just making a statement in his own strange way, get over it people. And Zeke, if you think this should be banned think about how long it will take before the thought police come after you for calling someone ignorant!

Zeke

How did you conclude that I thought it should be banned? Read more carefully. And don't assume.

You highlight my point, which was the discussion should not revolve around whether it is a racist comment, which it clearly is, but whether it is to be tolerated. That many have clearly interpreted it as racist is enough to move forward in the discussion with it being established that it is at least offensive to some in the community as such.

Discussions around the limits of our freedom of speech are nothing new, and are necessary, particularly when we have recently seen things like movies made here in the U.S. incite violence and murder abroad. I am fully in favor of free speech, though recognizing there are also laws to bring appropriate civility and balance (though they should be minimal - ex. not yelling "Fire!" in a movie theater when there's no fire).

Again, my point is simply that the discussion would be most productive if we moved past whether it is racially charged and discuss how to handle it as a community when some interpret it as racist and offensive.

Wingmaster

Banned or not allowed/tolerated are pretty close to the same thing. It is offensive to some people but until it demonstrates eminent harm (yelling fire in a movie theater) it is part of our protection of free speech. Really don't want to digress into the discussion about a movie supposedly the cause of violence because it will further disrupt this thread, I'm sure we will not agree there. Lets just agree that a discussion about tolerance needs to ensue out of this discussion!

Zeke

I agree with you actually. I do think this clown should have the right to share his ignorant views in the way he has, however, I also think that the community needs to come together to show support for those who are antagonized by such demonstrations, similar to the way counter-protesters met the hate monger protesters at the military funeral in Holland a few months ago.

Wingmaster

It boils down to respect for each other. We can all have our point of view, and if someone finds it offensive we should at least listen to why but allow the expression without demonizing either side.

Mr. Conservative

Wingmaster, this is one thread in which i disagree with you.

Mr. Conservative

Moderators have removed this comment because it contained profanity. Discussion Guidelines

Pages

Post a Comment

Log in to your account to post comments here and on other stories, galleries and polls. Share your thoughts and reply to comments posted by others. Don't have an account on GrandHavenTribune.com? Create a new account today to get started.