Forward Thinking

Hath Not an Elmo Constitutional Rights?

By Jordana Horn

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Elmo haters — i.e. any one who has parented a 3 year old child — were vindicated on Monday, when a man dressed as Elmo was taken away from Central Park by police in an ambulance after making an anti-Semitic rant outside the Central Park Zoo.

The man, as yet unidentified, is apparently a recidivist racist who has donned the Elmo costume previously to spew anti-Semitic vitriol. In one rant, captured on video and posted on YouTube by witnesses, the not-so-cuddly creature implored passers-by to read Henry Ford’s “The International Jew” (no one ever said Elmo was ill-read) saying that “if you start your business in this city, Jews will harass you.” He also said that he was not making money because “the Jewish costume company is harassing me.”

According to some reports, parents complained that Elmo was making their children uncomfortable – children who perhaps expected hugs, rather than hate, from someone disguised as their favorite Sesame Street character – and that was why the New York Police Department responded, taking ‘Elmo’ to a hospital in an ambulance.

Some reports say that ‘Elmo’ was taken to Metropolitan Hospital for psychological evaluation, and is emotionally disturbed. While most reports acknowledged that Elmo was not arrested, the question of whether or not Elmo was within his rights to speak his mind – disturbed or not – in the park seems not to have been raised by anyone.

Does freedom of speech, one has to wonder, not apply to disturbed people, or anti-Semitic wolves in Elmo’s clothing? Yes, the utter incongruity of rants from someone in an Elmo costume are perhaps more disturbing than they might be otherwise. But hath not an Elmo Constitutional rights?


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