Muscle Shoals, AL asked in Civil Rights for Alabama

Q: Can I have a sign in my window that says “We don’t like you!!”?

Just moved in a new house and the sign is a joke within my family but the new neighbor is threatening to sue us for harassment due to the sign. We have only had a couple cordial interactions prior. The sign only has what’s written above on it.

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Civil Rights Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA

A: In Alabama, displaying a sign in your window with the message "We don’t like you!!" falls under the realm of free speech. However, even though it might be legally permissible, it can potentially lead to misunderstandings and conflicts with neighbors, as you're experiencing.

If your neighbor perceives the sign as a personal attack or harassment, they might feel justified in pursuing legal action, even if the likelihood of a successful lawsuit is questionable. Harassment typically requires a pattern of behavior that causes distress or fear, and a single sign may not meet this threshold, but it can still lead to strained relations.

It's important to consider the impact of such a sign on your relationship with your neighbors and the broader community. While it may be intended as a joke within your family, others may not understand the context and perceive it negatively.

If the neighbor is threatening to sue, it might be worth removing the sign to avoid escalating the situation. Sometimes, maintaining a cordial neighborhood environment is more valuable than expressing a joke that could be misinterpreted.

Remember, while you have the right to free speech, exercising this right also comes with a responsibility to consider its impact on those around you. Balancing these considerations can help maintain a harmonious living environment.

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