By The Progressive on May 14, 2007
Vet Prosecuted for Opposing Recruitment in Library
By Matthew Rothschild

May 14, 2007

Tim Coil served in the first Gulf War and now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

On March 12, he and his wife, Yvette, went to the Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library in Ohio. At 37, she is a student at Kent State and needed to study for a biology test. Tim, 40, was reading some books.

Then they noticed two military recruiters trying to enlist someone in a nearby room, with a large glass window.

She decided to take action.

She took out some 3x5 cards and wrote messages to the man being recruited and then put them up on the window sill.

His wife was putting up 3x5 cards on the window of the room used by the recruiters.

“Don’t fall for it! Military recruiters lie,” said one.

“It’s not honorable to fight for a lying President,” said another.

Then the police came.

“Don’t fall for it! Military recruiters lie,” said one.

“It’s not honorable to fight for a lying President,” said another.

She says she cleared it all first.

“Before I put those cards up, I went to a volunteer and I asked her if it was OK if I put those cards up in the window, and she said she didn’t have a problem with that but talk to someone who works there,” Yvette says. “The next person said it was fine so long as there is no confrontation. And she said, ‘Between you and I, I wish they weren’t here, either.’ ”

The recruiters were none too happy with the cards.

One of them came out and asked Coil who put them up.

When she admitted she had, he asked for her name, which she didn’t give him.

He told her that she and her husband couldn’t put the cards up.

“My husband asked him if he was trying to keep us from using our freedom of speech,” Coil says.

He didn’t answer that, she says, but he did tell her again to stop.

He took the cards and went to find the library director.

In the meantime, Coil put some more card on the sill:

“Don’t do it.”

“My husband is a Gulf War Veteran. He can tell you the TRUTH.”

“To the military, you are cannon fodder.”

“Recruiters: You’re fighting for my freedom of speech, too!”

The library director, Doug Dotterer, told them that if they put up one more card, he was going to ask them to leave, Coil says. He told them they couldn’t display things that were disturbing other people in the library. She told him that the Army had its brochures out on a nearby table, and they were disturbing her, she says.

“My husband said that the library was a public place and we are allowed our freedom of speech,” Coil says. “The director said it was his library, and so we would have to follow his rules.”

When he left, they knocked on the window and urged the man being recruited not to join up.

Soon the police arrived.

They asked the Coils to leave the building.

“We said, ‘Gladly,’ ” Yvette recalls.

But on his way out, Tim called the director a name.

“One more word from you and I’ll arrest you,” the police officer told Tim.

Then Tim shouted, “Don’t let the military recruit people in the library.”

Whereupon the police arrested him and took him to the station and booked him for disorderly conduct. A little while later, Yvette came and picked him up.

The district attorney did not return phone calls for comment.

Library Director Dotterer would not talk except to say: “I contacted my board president, who is an attorney, and he indicated that because this is an ongoing case we’re not going to comment. What I would refer you to are the official police reports.”

The police report says Coil was arrested for “causing a disturbance within a library.”

At an April 30 pretrial meeting, Coil was asked if he wanted to make a plea and settle the whole thing.

“No, I’m not guilty,” he said, according to his wife.

She explains: “We’re Mennonite. To lie about that would be wrong. I don’t want him to go to jail. Neither does he. He doesn’t need that. But I believe that God’s going to take care of it. We’re OK with whatever happens. The point is if we don’t stand for these freedoms and we don’t allow ourselves to be put on the line for those things, there won’t be an option anymore.”

Attorney William Whitaker is representing the Coils.

“If a statute punishes this conduct, then that statute is unconstitutional since it sweeps protected speech within its orbit,” he says. “They were engaged in protected First Amendment speech. It’s legitimate to use the public library in the same way that the recruiters were using it.”

On May 10, Yvette Coil says that her lawyer was advised that the state would drop charges if they would pay $100 in court fees.

“Tim said he should not have to pay for being harassed,” says Yvette. “No one has the right to take your freedoms away.”

The case is scheduled for June 5.

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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