A court commissioner has dismissed a case against a singer/songwriter from Wisconsin who was facing a felony charge of “disorderly conduct with a hate crime enhancer” for placing feminist stickers throughout Madison.
Thistle Pettersen, founder of Women’s Liberation Radio News, was accused of placing the stickers along State Street in areas that she says already had other stickers and graffiti on them.
In a press release about the citation, the Women’s Liberation Front (WoLF) explained that the stickers included the slogans: “Woman = Adult Human Female,” “Trans Lie$ Matter” (a reference to Big Pharma support for the gender industry), “Everything is Transphobic,” and “TERF Collective.”
According to a report from the feminist website 4W, Pettersen was reported by Patrick Farabaugh, the owner of the LGBT publication “Our Lives Magazine,” for placing the “anti-transgender” stickers on their distribution boxes.
“Farabaugh told police that he felt ‘attacked and intimidated’ by the stickers, and advised that the readers of his magazine felt the same way,” the 4W report says.
Our dear sister @ThistlePetters1 of @radfemradio is to appear in court shortly in Madison WI to answer for a felony hate crime for allegedly placing a TERF Collective sticker. Send energy and solidarity. #FreeThistle #WomenWontWheesht #TERFCollectiveWontWheesht pic.twitter.com/b7Iq9eC3If
— TERF Collective (@TERFCollective) September 27, 2021
Due to the slogans, Pettersen was facing up to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
WoLF noted that it was unclear why the “hate crime” enhancer was warranted as gender identity is not a protected class in Wisconsin.
“Even if true, stickering feminist slogans in areas already full of stickers and graffiti is neither disorderly nor hateful,” said Lauren Adams, WoLF Legal Director, in a statement obtained by Timcast. “The pursuit of these charges is intended to chill the free speech of women’s rights advocates. If the police want to stop hate crimes, they should investigate the threats against Thistle instead of using tax-payer money to facilitate anti-woman bullying by extremist activists.”
On Monday, the case against Pettersen was dropped by the court commissioner without objection from the assistant district attorney.
— WoLF (@WomensLibFront) September 27, 2021
Pettersen’s attorney Sarah Schmeiser had argued that the hate crime enhancement was not supported by the facts in the complaint, which state that it was based on sexual orientation. The ADA conceded that this was true, attributing it to “incomplete language in the statute.”
Additionally, Schmeiser had argued that the disorderly conduct charge was unconstitutional because the First Amendment protects political speech, including stickers with a political message. The ADA did not object to this argument either.
“I feel greatly relieved that the charges were dropped but they never should have been brought in the first place,” Pettersen told 4W. “I have endured public humiliation and harassment from trans activists for years in my community.”
Pettersen said that she has been threatened in local Facebook groups, had activists petition to have her concerts cancelled, and that a community garden she volunteers at was vandalized twice by trans activists over the summer. She documented much of her troubles in an article for Uncommon Ground titled “How I Became the Most Hated Folk Singer in Madison.”
Despite the efforts to quiet her down, Pettersen has insisted that she will not stop fighting for her beliefs.