NAUGATUCK, CT -- Should freedom of speech and expression laws allow people to compare the U.S. President to a fascist dictator responsible for the deaths of several million people?
That is the question Naugatuck is grappling with after it became the latest stop on a tour by the LaRouche PAC, which aims to remove President Obama from office.
The national group draws attention by standing outside of public places in front of a several eye-catching signs, including one that depicts Obama wearing a Hitler-like mustache. (Read more about the group’s message here.)
That is what happened Tuesday outside of the . Two LaRouche PAC activists from New Jersey, who said they came to Naugatuck because it’s just another place to spread their message, talked to anyone who would listen.
Some were angry. Some were pleased. Others just went about their business without batting an eyelash.
The LaRouche PAC has been using the Obama sign with a Hitler-like mustache since 2009. Reviews have been mixed all over the country. A picture of the sign caused a firestorm of emotions when it hit the Naugatuck Patch Facebook page Tuesday afternoon.
Activist Chris Sare, of New Jersey, co-organized Tuesday’s demonstration in Naugatuck.
Of the Obama sign, he said, “Some people are offended but when we actually explain to them what we’re saying — it goes back to the health care plan where he actually said that we’re going to cut waste out of Medicare. And he was explaining that there were too many people who get tests and treatment, especially as they get on in their later years. So that’s exactly what the Nazis did in 1939 to save money. They said, ‘Well this person’s life is not really worth the money; it’s a life not really worth living.’”
Naugatuck Mayor Bob Mezzo, a Democrat, said he doesn’t care what kind of explanation is given: he believes that kind of disrespect for our president is despicable.
“I think Patch gave these individuals and their ridiculous and distasteful message exactly what they wanted, which was publicity,” he said.
“Of course, I’m offended by it," he said of the Obama poster. "I’m really saddened the more I age by the fringe on the left and the right that just have to sensationalize our national debate to a ridiculous point when the overwhelming majority of our nation would like to have a debate about the solutions to the challenges we face as a country.
"That doesn’t mean those with conservative or a liberal ideologies shouldn’t voice their opinions in a public conversation. But it's sad when someone demonizes the president of the United States by comparing him to a fascist dictator who is responsible for the deaths of millions and millions of people. I say that as a Democrat, but people in my own party are just as guilty of doing the same thing when there is a Republican president."