But just when does nastiness become a crime? When a judge says that it does.
And we like Teaneck's Judge James Young. We think he is level headed. At first we thought he went too far in allowing this harassment accusation to go to trial. He should have sent the warring parties off to reach a settlement, we felt. But on further review we realize the context here. A man claims to have been subjected to several acts of aggression due to his expression of support for Palestinians by displaying bumper stickers on his car.
Let's put an end to this right here and now, the judge must have thought. Yes, let's hope that lessons are learned in Teaneck and that nastiness turned into bullying stops.
But then again, let's expect that it won't.
The Mondoweiss blog has the not-so-dramatic story of Trau v. Siegel, the crux of which we paste and link below, "Teaneck harassment trial involves pro-Palestinian bumper stickers," by Philip Weiss.
...Siegel believes in the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes. He decided to get his views out there in a very assertive way by putting four bumper stickers on his 13-year-old gray Honda Civic. His wife was OK with it. Two of the stickers said, "Free Palestine, End the Occupation." Another said, "Stop US Aid to Israel," and another said, "We refuse to be enemies. Christians Jews and Muslims working for peace and justice."Update: Trau apologized to Siegel and the matter was resolved outside of court as reported here.
The bumper stickers got attention. A lot of people give Siegel the thumbs-up, or honk approvingly. But Teaneck/Fairlawn are a hotbed for Gush Emunim-land-of-Israel types, and many people get ticked off by the Honda and give him the finger. He's used to that. Some have vandalized his car.
On the afternoon of April 20, Siegel noticed a Toyota following him a little too close as he was headed home down River Road in Teaneck. The car followed Siegel after he turned on to one side street and then another, traveling into his neighborhood. Siegel says the driver followed him right up to his house and then pulled up alongside his parked car and gave him the finger. Then he drove to the end of the block and turned around and drove slowly past Siegel's house again.
Siegel had the presence of mind to record the man's license plate number and decided to file a police complaint against him. The driver was Bernie Thau, who is active in the Jewish community of Fairlawn, New Jersey. After a probable cause hearing a couple weeks back, at which Thau appeared and denied his guilt, Judge James Young of the Municipal Court found sufficient evidence to hold Thau for trial for harassment..more...