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  #1  
Old 07-05-2011, 10:38 AM
pmandra pmandra is offline
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Is cursing / threatening by my neighbor 'free speech'?

Hi,

My neighbor has been a royal pain since I asked him to please turn down the volume of his music outdoors. Now, he swears/yells at me from his backyard whenever I am outside (whether I am in my own backyard or walking the dog on my sidewalk).

The cop I spoke to last night claimed that although the neighbor wasn't being 'nice', they did nothing wrong and have a right to say such things. However, I am inclinde to believe, at a minimum, the neighbor is disturbing the peace or harassing.

Last night was the 4th of July - maybe the cop was too busy to care? But what are you thoughts on how to handle?

Last edited by pmandra; 07-05-2011 at 10:39 AM..
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  #2  
Old 07-05-2011, 10:42 AM
Colibri Colibri is offline
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Since the OP is looking for advice, this is better suited to IMHO than GQ.

Colibri
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  #3  
Old 07-05-2011, 10:55 AM
Azeotrope Azeotrope is offline
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I'd consider it verbal harrassment, since it's directed at you. You asked him to turn the music down, so he's finding new and better ways to be a PITA.

I'd recommend you keeping a log of exactly what he says and when he says it, so that if you have to call the cops again or file a complaint you'll have proof that this wasn't just a single incident. Don't get into a slanging match with him because that's what he wants.

It's entirely possible that between DUI's and illegal fireworks and everything else the Fourth brings, the cops were too busy to care. If you can show he's got a pattern of acting this way they won't be able to dismiss it as "not nice" or an isolated incident.
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  #4  
Old 07-05-2011, 11:21 AM
ExTank ExTank is offline
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What everyone else says. A few winters back, a snow/ice storm hit where I live, and I couldn't get my car out one Saturday morning, and instead worked to get my work truck out.

A neighbor offered to help, and I politely declined as it was my employer-provided work truck; I didn't want him to get hurt, or damage either my truck or his vehicle in the attempt, and open my employer to liability.

The second time he offered help (after I'd been chopping at ice for 10 minutes so I could get some tire-on-pavement traction), I again politely declined, thanked him for the offer, and told him about my concerns about liability.

After another 10-15 minutes of shovelling snow and chopping ice, he again offered help, and I did tell him "NO!" in a kinda snappish tone of voice. He threatened to do this, that, the other, and told me "No one talks to me that way!" Yada-yada. I called the cops, who had words with him, and he continued to be a PITA towards me until he was evicted that spring.

He later tried to corner me in the laundry room and threaten me. Little did he realize that the landlord had video surveillance in there due to vandalism, so when I again called the cops on him, I had at least a video of him to back up (at least somewhat) my version of events.

You might consider getting your neighbor on video doing his stuff, in case of escalation.
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  #5  
Old 07-05-2011, 12:17 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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Logging the harassment is a very good idea. It's no guarantee, but you would probably look a whole lot more credible if you show up in court with a written log of what he's said and when he said it, instead of just saying, "Well, you know, he says mean things to me." I think it's harassment, too - looking up harassment in the legal sense, this is what I find:
Quote:
Criminal Harassment Definition: Unsolicited annoying, alarming or abusive conduct or words which are threatening.
Are you both renters? You might be able to use your harassment log to work on getting him evicted as well.
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  #6  
Old 07-05-2011, 02:22 PM
Quercus Quercus is offline
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Absolutely keep a good record. Just buy a cheap notebook, keep it by the door, and write down what happened when (resist any inclination to vent here; keep it to only facts).

You might want to check out wiretapping laws in your state to see if you need his consent, or at least inform him, in order to record him.

Of course attempting to obtain his consent to record your conversations may accomplish the larger goal of ending them, as he probably doesn't really want to be on tape cursing at you.
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  #7  
Old 07-05-2011, 02:33 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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Hmm, so it appears it isn't actually criminal harassment until he starts uttering threats. Well, that sucks. Does he actually threaten you, or just shout rude names at you (not to diminish someone shouting rude names at you - there's no excuse for that).
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  #8  
Old 07-05-2011, 02:50 PM
YogSosoth YogSosoth is offline
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This requires revenge! Say exactly what he says to you back to him, only include his wife and kids too.
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  #9  
Old 07-05-2011, 03:07 PM
AntiCoyote AntiCoyote is offline
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If he says "you're a jerk" it is rude, but it is just an opinion. If he says "I have a knife with your name on it," well...
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  #10  
Old 07-05-2011, 03:09 PM
Cat Whisperer Cat Whisperer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YogSosoth View Post
This requires revenge! Say exactly what he says to you back to him, only include his wife and kids too.
Ooh, ooh, tape what he says, and play it back at him, on a looped tape directed right at his yard, when you leave for a long weekend. If it isn't harassment when he does it, it shouldn't be harassment when YOU do it, should it?
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  #11  
Old 07-05-2011, 03:26 PM
Ca3799 Ca3799 is offline
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I believe my ex-BIL got a ticket for cursing a neighbor once. The little old lady he cursed at made a complaint and there were other witnesses. I don't have any other details, though.
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  #12  
Old 07-05-2011, 09:08 PM
mac_bolan00 mac_bolan00 is offline
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unjust vexation.
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  #13  
Old 07-05-2011, 09:14 PM
ExTank ExTank is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YogSosoth View Post
This requires revenge! Say exactly what he says to you back to him, only include his wife and kids too.
And release the squids!
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  #14  
Old 07-05-2011, 10:51 PM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cat Whisperer View Post
Ooh, ooh, tape what he says, and play it back at him, on a looped tape directed right at his yard, when you leave for a long weekend. If it isn't harassment when he does it, it shouldn't be harassment when YOU do it, should it?
Nah. Just have someone set off a burglar alarm while you leave on a long weekend.
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  #15  
Old 07-11-2011, 05:36 AM
JBDivmstr JBDivmstr is offline
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Well, if you really want to go the "tit for tat" route, I can tell you from experience (not my experience, mind you... A "friends" experience. ) how to really get his "panties wound up tight".

Every time he makes an ugly comment... Smile real big, wave and say "Hey, thanks. I'm really glad to know that!" and go on your merry way.
(Trust me, if he can't "get a rise out of you", it won't take very long at all before one of two things will happen.)

The guy will either A. Think you're a loony, and lose interest in trying to "get your goat". or B. He'll prove without a doubt that HE'S a loony, (and possibly a dangerous one!) and somehow "escalate" things.

Before trying this, I would advise setting up some type of video surveillance recording, so that any further incidents or escalation can be documented.

Before I go any further, I should say... IANAL, nor do I have any "law enforcement training". However, I do have a friend or two that are lawyers, and I know more than a couple of LEO's... And their unanimous concensus is that your neighbor is, at the very least, "disturbing the peace" and/or exhibiting "disorderly conduct". Your problem is that, without video documentation or eyewitness testimony from reliable and (preferrably) unassociated sources, that corroborate your version of the incident(s), it boils down to a "he said, she said... no I didn't, yes you did", type of situation.

But I would be willing to make a very large bet, that this man cannot legally, "use abusive, demeaning and/or insulting language in public", and especially, if it's directed at you, specifically! He doesn't have to make specific threats, in order for his actions to constitute illegal behavior.

Now with all of that said, I've got to point out that we've only heard, "your side of the story".

Like I've already said, IANAL. But if all you did was, "I asked him to please turn down the volume of his music outdoors." Then you should be able to have the local LEO's "discuss the issue" with your neighbor. Which brings to mind, this point... Do you know any of your other neighbors? If you do, (or even if you don't) talk to them and find out if they've witnessed, any of what you've described. (Try to get a feel as to "which camp they're in", first, though. It might not help matters if you inadvertently "tip you hand", to parties that were sympathetic to him!)

All in all... I sense that you're dealing with a very trying and exasperating situation.

You certainly have my sympathies, and I wish you luck in obtaining a peaceful outcome.

Above all though, "Hope for the best, but be prepared, for the worst!"
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