Arrow-right Camera


Rights lawyer recognizes bright side to doo-doo on the lawn

I don’t make a habit of openly agreeing with lawyers. That’s a surefire credibility killer for a guy in my line of work.

But I must suspend policy today and shout “Bravo!” at the wisdom Norm Gissel uttered the other day.

The North Idaho attorney was asked by a reporter to comment on the decision by Coeur d’Alene prosecutors to NOT pursue criminal littering charges against a trio of neo-Nazi knuckleheads. Police gave the three misdemeanor citations this summer after residents complained about finding racist propaganda deposited in their yards like dung from some stray mutt.

The prosecutor’s decision didn’t anger Gissel. Instead he looked at the bigger picture.

“That is such awful literature that it’s almost a net gain for civil rights to have it out there,” he observed in our news story. “The message is so grotesque and outrageous.”

How true.

Gissel’s point of view carries weight when the subject turns to racism.

He’s the guy who orchestrated a civil lawsuit that in 2000 bankrupted the Aryan Nations and its head tarantula, the now-deceased Richard Butler.

The point being that Gissel loathes these latter-day goose-steppers as much as anyone can.

If there were a legal way to ship these Adolf-loving fools to some remote island, I’m betting Gissel would gladly chip in to help cover the moving expenses.

But this is America.

This is a rare country built on high-minded principles like free speech and free assembly. Which is fine and dandy most of the time.

The flip side of that grand compact is that America gives its loser citizens a lot of leeway to make complete and utter asses out of themselves.

Anna Eckhart, Coeur d’Alene’s deputy attorney, explained in our story that courts regularly side with the dissemination of religious and political material “over maintaining a litter-free community or protecting private property.”

That may be bad news to some.

But Gissel has faith in humanity’s ability to discern crap when we see it, and I couldn’t agree more.

Anyone with a flicker of IQ would be repulsed by the content of the Coeur d’Alene fliers. They depict a Caucasian woman with the message: “Love your white race.”

Think about it. How lacking in common sense or a meaningful life would you have to be to read that vile foolishness and be persuaded to dial the Aryan Nations’ contact number?

There’s a certain satisfaction to sticking these clods with littering. But prosecutors no doubt were correct in dropping charges against Paul R. Mullet, Kevin B. McGuire and Todd N. Weston.

Mullet, a veteran racist activist, reacted to the decision as if he had won White Supremacist of the Year.

“We know we were in the right and that the Coeur d’Alene Police Department wasted time, money and resources … .”

Gag me.

Mullet is so lucky to live in such a tolerant nation. If being ignorant were a crime, these racist mopes would be doing life without parole.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by e-mail at


Top stories in Spokane

Before the falls: Spokane and the history of river cities

The falls are beautiful, they’re powerful and they’re the reason for the city. Spokane is one of a small number of American cities that have falling water in their hearts, and it’s no accident. The reasons for a city are many, but chief among them is water – for drinking, for transportation, for industry and, most recently, for beauty.