Saturday, January 12, 2008

We're So Free We Can't Swear in Writing

I hear a lot of politicians talking about how free we are.


Take for instance this story that Pennsylvania police filed disorderly conduct charges because a man used the "F word" on the memo line of a $5 check he used to pay a parking ticket.

Yes, yes, that's the sound of the First Amendment rolling over in its grave.

Seriously, people?

The F word?

Is this f*%$ing kindergarten?

A very large group of people need to read Thoreau's On the Duty of Civil Disobedience!
There will never be a really free and enlightened State, until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly (p. 388).
Luckily for this guy, he did not say "Don't tase me, bro" on the memo line.

Sadly, he caved and apologized before the case went to trial, so the cops dropped the charge.

I hope that a bunch of constitutionally minded young people are currently looking for expired meters in Doylestown, Pa., as we speak.



Anonymous Alan R. said...

There was a 1971 U.S. Supreme Court case called "Cohen v. California," in which a 5-4 majority ruled that wearing a jacket that said "F--- THE DRAFT" in a public building could not be criminally punished.

I'm not a constitutional lawyer, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night. Seriously, the recent Pennsylvania prosecution seems hard to square with Cohen.

A check seen (presumably) by only a very small number of individuals seems much less provocative than the situation in the Cohen case, and Cohen's expression was found to be constitutionally protected.

In the case of the check, after all, no vulgar expression was ever displayed prominently in a crowd context, where disorder could occur.

5:35 PM  
Blogger Samuel D. Bradley said...

Thanks for pointing this out. All great stuff. I vaguely remembered this from media law classes in 1996 and 2001, but it had slipped my mind.

6:11 PM  
Blogger IUAngelini said...

F*&$ing ridiculous!

6:46 PM  

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