Shining a Light on Government Bullies

Last winter, Deltona, Fla., imposed a fine on Corey Marion’s Happy Tails pet grooming business. What dastardly deed had Cory committed to incur the wrath of Deltona’s code enforcement officers? She ran afoul of the city’s sign code when she posted a sign to let other Good Samaritans know that her business was a Toys for Tots drop-off site. The city leaders dug in their heels and ordered Corey to take the sign down, but she refused. The city also prevented at least one other small business from posting a similar sign at all.

This sparked a flurry of media attention condemning the city’s callous attempt to chill speech. You can read IJ’s op-ed on the controversy in USA Today here.

Under the national spotlight, the city bureaucrats quickly came to their senses. In January, Deltona agreed to allow signs like Corey’s Toys for Tots sign. The following month, a local judge also threw out the citation Corey had received. Now, Corey and Deltona’s other Good Samaritans can rest assured knowing that their local government officials will no longer attempt to prevent them from giving gifts to children during the holidays.

If you see the government assaulting liberty in your own community, you should say something, whether that means reporting abuse to the Institute for Justice, writing an op-ed or letter to the editor, starting your own activism group or making your voice heard at a city council meeting. It is important to remind those with power that they are accountable to the public. As the saying goes, sometimes sunshine really is the best disinfectant.

— Justin Pearson
Justin Pearson is the the executive director of IJ’s Florida Chapter

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