Give peace no chance.
A judge ruled against a resident of the historic Ansonia on Broadway and 73rd street who hung an illuminated peace sign in her window. The city had fined Brigitte Vosse $800 for hanging the sign, which violated rules against using illuminated signs higher than 40 feet up in residential districts.
Vosse had challenged the fine on First Amendment grounds, the Daily News reported.
In a ruling made public Friday, Judge Jed Rakoff ruled in favor of the city, noting the regulation provided Vosse with plenty of other alternatives to get her message across – such as not using an illuminated sign.
A lawyer for Vosse, Timothy Collins, told the New York Law Journal he and his client were weighing an appeal.
He called her sign “a simple and elegant personal statement about her desire for peace in the world.”
“The fact that it was illuminated made it an effective statement. Otherwise it would have been virtually invisible from her 17th-floor apartment,” the told the paper.
Photo of the Ansonia by Jeffrey Zeldman.
Our courts are busied by this? This is an outrageous overreaching by the city. Nothing commercial here, just a display of hope. Rather than peace, maybe we should all put signs in our windows encouraging common sense. And if this was a display of Christmas – um, I mean Holiday – lights, arranged in a peace sign pattern, troops of religious zealots would be demanding its acceptance and citing religious freedom. I suppose hopeful, peaceful citizens don’t get the benefit of that same protection. Maybe they should proclaim being Peaceifarians.
What if it were an advertisement?
Hey, Vosse…the law is the law.
If you’re so into peace, deal with it.
Yeah, that peace sign really ruined the neighborhood. Good thing those vendors are out there to make things look gorgeous.
Can’t you for once just leave them out of this? It’s a shame this woman has to take down something so wonderful, but your attitude towards the vendors outside is the same as the judge was towards Ms. Vosse. You have to walk by vendors on the Upper West Side, deal with it!
It’s called “perspective” Brandi.
The peace sign didn’t threaten anyone, didn’t leave trash around, didn’t curse at people, didn’t block the sidewalk, and didn’t play loud music.
Last I checked, two wrongs did not a right make.
While I agree with that statement, I don’t understand the context here.
Agreed, the vendors are awful.
Mark I agree with you. The vendors are an eyesore and awful.
Seems like a reasonable law that prohibits illuminated signs above 40 feet in residential areas. Just imagine having a giant “H O T E L” sign flashing outside your window when you are trying to sleep. I recall that there was an illuminated red umbrella on a Citi building on Greenwich Street. Was that okay?
Really? This sign was blinking into someone’s window?
I guess the “one size fits all” model is necessary for people who can’t make considerations on an individual basis.
Death, taxes and condescension from Mark. You just never miss an opportunity, do you?
Do you have a criticism of my point or are you just obsessed with me?
damn, yo. give peace a chance.
All we are saying is give peace no chance.
Wow. I agree this on the surface seems to be an overreaching of the court but I guess the “law” applies to the humble Peace sign as well as if were a neon sign for an electrolysis business.
I am not trying to be political here although I have seen the sign and liked it. Now, work with me on this one. As I read it, you cannot have an illuminated sign. Meaning a sign that generates it’s own light. What if Ms. Vosse were to leave the unlit sign in her window, covered the frame inside her apartment with frosted plastic and placed a red (or any other color)light bulb so it were to light up the frosted covering and thus create a silhouette of the Peace sign? That eliminates the issue of an illuminated sign, no? Anyway, I’m just saying. As JL said, “Give Peace a chance.”
Gee, I wonder what you would all be saying if this wasn’t a Peace sign but maybe something a little more objectionable. I don’t know….maybe a Swastica or something!! A Confederate flag maybe….Hmmm….maybe a large phallic symbol of some sort….ok, I think you get my point.
Listen, Lady….stop being a trouble maker and do something meaningful if you just have so much to say and you want peace, love, etc.. Hanging a symbol in your window is literally the least you can do. You are better and smarter than that. Go volunteer, write your Congressperson, help someone instead of spending a fortune on legal fees because you want attention and somehow feel slighted.
NYC gets it right sometimes…
You have no idea how Ms. Vosse has helped and will continue to help people and the community.
Completely agreed and was just about to make the same point. I loved the sign and thought it was perfectly situated on the building. A neon sign of hate would have been equally protected under the decision. Unless you want to turn every block into Times Square, it’s best to keep the residential zoning restrictions in lighted signs in place.
Ditto the above comment by “Witness”.
Again, here we have the “one size fits all” model to make life easier for people who can’t think independently or critically.
Interesting that you make the recommendations you make of how she should spend her time. Apparently you know her and you believe she doesn’t do anything constructive?
So, what about the neon Verizon sign that is seen from any residence close to the water in Brooklyn looking into Manhattan, completely and totally destroying the skyline? No, that’s fine, that can stay. You people who have a problem with this peace sign and no problem with that sign are hypocrites. Or maybe you just like giant UGLY corporate signs and hate really small, individual signs. That’s cool, I guess.
The Verizon building is commercial, not residential. Therefore it is not covered by the law.
And again. One size fits all mentality. I guess critical thinking is just way too hard.
If they allowed this another person could get a neon ISIS flag in their window using the same argument.
Exactly, John. If the law were to start making exceptions based on the character of the sign, it would become completely subjective, arbitrary and capricious. There would be endless dispute, contention and litigation that would tie-up the legal system.
Wow, so much drama with so little thought.
If she is an advocate for peace (and not just a phony), she should follow the law that is designed for ALL of us
Time to put the WAR sign up.
Ridiculous ruling by the court.
really? why? you’re obviously a communist.
the law is the law for all.
don’t like the law?? CHANGE IT.
I am obviously a communist?
Far from it old pubby boy.
Does anybody who does not like a certain law needs to be tagged a communist?
And BTW – what are you?
Sure sounds like a sad old boy to me.
I think the term “communist” is bandied about by many conservatives who have no idea what the word actually means.
In a similar way they throw around “political correctness” and even the term “liberal”. It’s rather charming really.
If it was a sign of hate it would be wrong to have it up. It is a sign of peace hurting nobody so having it up should not be a problem.
Having two different thoughts about two different situations is not so difficult. We don’t have to be robots about this.
“If it was a sign of hate it would be wrong to have it up”
Really? Isn’t the act of tolerating even speech we find hateful what makes America great? To me, that’s what proves what kind of people we are. That we support someone’s right to say things that we disagree with, not just what we feel comfortable hearing.
In this case I feel it’s just a matter of applying the signage ordinance in an even-handed away. I certainly do not want a judge deciding what speech is acceptable and what is not.
Quite correct, Eric, on both counts.
First, that it is the expression of unpopular and even repugnant ideas and sentiments for which legal protection is necessary; no one objects to speech that they find favorable. (Many people have made this point. Noam Chomsky perhaps most famously.)
Second, that the suggestion that an ordinance such as the one-in-question here be applied selectively, based on a determination of the character of the object-in-question– a determination that would, necessarily, be completely subjective, if not arbitrary and capricious– is entirely inappropriate and downright disturbing.
Reading a comment such as yours is encouraging.
This. 1000x. Whenever the courts have to do something along these lines there is trouble (like the “we know it when we see it” problematic sort-of-definition of obscenity). I can only imagine the litigation and general mayhem if in NYC it was “I know protected signage when I see it.” No. Just no. They got this one right.
I guess the judge missed out on the fact that the Vietnam War ended decades ago and we are no longer under threat of long haired hippie peace-niks.
Appeal! The intent of that law is presumably to guard against commercial usage, which this isn’t. That peace sign is needed more than ever and it’s a comfort to see while walking up Broadway.
I think we could use MORE peace signs
Illuminating the nation and fewer guns
Firing at will!!!!
In addition to the points I made in previous posts, I would like to add:
Regardless of the message or character that they convey, neon signs are, by their very nature, inherently inordinately bright, loud and distracting. (Many would go so far as to call neon garish.) As such, neon signage has no place on residential property that is clearly, widely and unavoidably visible to the public– at least not in densely populated areas, such as the one-in-question here.
Imagine if even as few as, say, 10% of all of the windows in a building such as the Ansonia had in them lighted-neon in one form or another. Imagine the light pollution and defacement of the visual environment that would be created.
From all of the information presented here thus far, I can only conclude that this ruling constituted an entirely reasonable and just application of a completely valid and necessary law.
Brigitte Vosse’s peace sign is not neon.
It was only red during the Christmas holiday
season. Other times it was white. The bluish white light was lovely.
Just like a poster above, I miss seeing it when walking north on Broadway.
On the W. 74rd St. side of the Ansonia, you see a red neon sign up in a window of a dentist that says, “Braces.” Granted, it is on a lower floor and covered by the law but
is Brigitte’s peace sign worse? I don’t think so.
I like the “Braces” sign in that it looks like something from a Sam Spade novel.
^^^ Correction: Dashiel Hammet novel featuring Sam Spade.
Dashiel Hammett. Cool your jets, Grammar Police.
Dashiell Hammett. Crap. I got it wrong and you had to “Witness” it.
UWR, Can we have an edit button?
Sounds like the classic issue of creating a problem where one doesn’t exist.
Lots of “what if”s there that don’t seem to happen in the real world.
I disagree with Independent’s point that no one objects to speech that they find favorable. It’s entirely consistent to favor the sentiment expressed in the peace sign and yet be opposed to the sign itself for the reasons underlying the city prohibition. As for those who argue that the sign should be allowed because of its message of peace, they need to brush up on their understanding of how the First Amendment works. The government cannot allow certain signs because it approves of the message while disallowing other signs if it doesn’t like the message. The First Amendment requires the government to be content-neutral.
I completely agree with everything that you have written above.
I’m not sure you understood the point of mine that you cited.
isn’t the weather sign on the apple bank apartments higher than 40 feet?