Woman ticketed for bumper sticker.

March 28, 2006 9:31 am

by Buzz Brockway · 26 comments

Free speech or not?  I think not.

“The officer asked if I knew I had a lewd decal on my car and I thought, ‘Oh gosh, what did my kids put on my car?’ ”

As it turns out, the decal was an anti-Bush bumper sticker Grier slapped on her 2001 Chrysler Sebring last summer. The bumper sticker — “I’m Tired Of All The BUSH—” — contains an expletive.

The officer “said DeKalb had an ordinance about lewd decals and wrote me a ticket” for $100, said Grier, an oncology nurse at Emory University Hospital who lives in Athens.

Grier said she thanked the officer — and vowed to see him in court.

“This is all about free speech,” Grier said in a telephone interview Monday. “The officer pulled me over because he didn’t agree with my politics. That’s what this is about, not whether I support Bush, not because of the war in Iraq, but about my right to free speech.”

Bill Simon March 28, 2006 at 9:49 am

Buzz, congratulations! You just demonstrated you are a neocon, not a conservative.

The DeKalb ordinance is clearly unconstitutional as it applies to bumper stickers on cars NOT registered in that county.

There are lewd stickers of the type “How’s My Driving? 1-800-EAT-SH*T” on cars, vans, and trucks all over the place. Are people supposed to stop at the county line and cover-up these stickers on THEIR vehicles?

Buzz, really, remove your head from Bush’s rear-end, would you?

buzzbrockway March 28, 2006 at 10:12 am

So Bill, anything goes? Profanity, nudity, whatever, all the time all the place? Surely you don’t think that?

Skeptical March 28, 2006 at 10:15 am

I interpreted buzz’s comment “Free speech or not. I think not.” to mean that this is clearly a violation of that woman’s freedom of speech as protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution.

Methinks it’s that officer that needs to remove his head from Bush’s rear-end.

Skeptical March 28, 2006 at 10:16 am

By the way, the sticker in question did not have any profanity on it at all. So clearly this officer had an axe to grind with anyone who’s opinions don’t match his. God help me if he ever sees my car…

Rusty March 28, 2006 at 10:18 am

Buzz,
I would like someone to explain to me why “shit” is profane and “dung” or “poop” or “crap” are not. It seems like an exercise in moral relativism and/or craven political correctness to declare one worse than the other to me.

kspencer March 28, 2006 at 10:21 am

This case will get tossed. Cunningham v. State, 260 Ga. 827 (1991) is the precedent, where the Georgia Supreme Court ruled that the “anti-lewd” law was unconstitutional. FWIW, they relied heavily on Cohen v California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).

hmmm – my memory’s faulty and I’m not near the references. Wasn’t Cunningham in Dekalb also?

Kirk

Bill Simon March 28, 2006 at 10:57 am

Buzz,

Wel, unless Congress passes a federal law prohibiting the expression of what they deem profanity on people’s vehicles, yes. Anything goes because all it is is “words.”

Hvae you ever heard of the expression “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?”

I cannot imagine this woman’s bumper sticker doing any kind of damage to ANYONE unless they are an anti-anyone who doesn’t like Bush.

Mrs. Adam Kornstein March 28, 2006 at 10:57 am

What about those stupid Calvin and Hobbs characters “peeing” on Chevy and Ford logos? Those are offensive too…

Next the American Taliban will be after the Christian Fish symbols with “chips” and Darwin mophed into them, sheesh don’t we have actual crime to worry about…

Bill Simon March 28, 2006 at 10:58 am

Skeptical,

You misread Buzz’s comment. He opened-up with “Free speech or not?”, and then he answered “I thinknot.”

Buzz backs-up the officer’s ticketing of the woman.

Bill Simon March 28, 2006 at 11:01 am

Rusty,

For that matter, it seems to me that anyone who says “Gee whiz,” or “Gosh darn it” or “Golly gee” is actually substituting the real thought that is in their heads of taking the Lord’s Name in vain.

buzzbrockway March 28, 2006 at 11:03 am

Bill,

I don’t care about her politics. If the sticker said “F*** bin Laden” it would still be out of bounds. We have all sorts of obsenity laws in this country that are enforced every day. This women should take the sticker off her car.

Skeptical March 28, 2006 at 11:13 am

Thanks Bill for the clarification.

I find those god awful W stickers to be obscene. Can I start pulling people over for a citizen’s arrest. Until you Repubs finally get rid of the Constitution and Bill of Rights (which at the rate you’re going, should be any day now), the woman’s freedom of speech was infringed upon. And as I said, there was absolutely no profanity on this sticker. Calm down while I go put my “Bush is a f$*^ing moron” sticker on my car.

Bill Simon March 28, 2006 at 11:31 am

Buzz,

When you drive on the road, your attention is supposed to be directed at correct operation of YOUR vehicle and topnotch awareness of the traffic around you, in coordination with road conditions and traffic markings (i.e., signals, stop signs, etc.)

Your attention should NOT be on anything else but proper, and safe, operation of your vehicle. What someone has stuck on their vehicle should not affect you in ANY way because you shouldn’t have your attention focused in that direction at all.

buzzbrockway March 28, 2006 at 11:53 am

….and traffic markings (i.e., signals, stop signs, etc.)

So that’s why someone in Duluth put Dennis Kucinich stickers on a bunch of stop signs. He/She, knew people don’t look at them on cars. :-)

Bill Simon March 28, 2006 at 12:14 pm

There you have it!

buzzbrockway March 28, 2006 at 12:55 pm

Bill and others,

You might be interested in something I just posted on my personal blog. What is a conservative?

It’s been rumbling around in my head for sometime now, and this is my first post on the subject – prodded along by Bill calling me a neocon. ;-)

kspencer March 28, 2006 at 1:03 pm

Buzz, profanity and obscenity are two different things. Foul language is profanity, and it’s not against the law. It may be offensive but it’s protected. The exception – see the two cases I already cited above – is if it’s specifically directed profanity at which point it heads into “fighting words” territory.

I’m going to defend the right to profanity not least because what meets that label keeps changing. I got told – in all seriousness – that telling someone “shut up” was “foul language” (aka profane), and that mother chewed me up one side and down the other for daring to say such near her child. “Please be quiet”, not “shut up”.

I thought it was the left that was condemned for demanding Politically Correct Language?

In fairness, I don’t really want to sit near someone who uses s*** and f*** every third word. But it’s not illegal, and much as it grates on me I don’t think it should be such. And barring extraordinary changes in court performance, it’s not going to be.

Again, this case is going to get tossed. The law – or one very much like it – was already supposed to be dead, mooted by the state supreme court. See my previous post for the cases.

jacewalden March 28, 2006 at 2:09 pm

I usually side with the conservatives on this blog. But, it’s just a bumper sticker, man. Freedom of speech is a right. I don’t think the bumper sticker caused a panic (so you can’t call “fire in a crowded theatre” on it). And I’m pretty sure that a reasonable person wouldn’t consider the words on it to be “fighting words”, It just comes down to certain people being too thin-skinned that they want to take away the bumpersticking fun from everyone else…;)

spaceygracey March 28, 2006 at 4:19 pm

Gee. Guess I’d better not wear that rather form-fitting tee that reads “The Only Bush I Trust Is My Own” around that part of town. Thanks for the heads-up, Buzz.

And a Southern lady never curses in public anyway… let alone drives about in a motorcar with the “f”” word on it. And a lady’s hoop skirt should always be grazing the ground, no ankles showing…

Bill Simon March 28, 2006 at 5:01 pm

And, what about them going around barefoot all the time, Spacey?

Three Jack March 28, 2006 at 5:15 pm

Crunchy Con as defined by the NRO writer copied in Buzz’s link describes a very mixed up person. Almost like a Dick Morris triangulation gone bad where the Dick client gets lost in some vast middle wasteland. Did the writer seek to justify the existence of Lincoln Chafee, Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, et al as bonafide Republicans?

Anti business, pro ‘culture over economics / politics and isolationism appears as some form of new age conservatism to appease the left as if we need to do more of that. What is wrong with the basic conservative definition — smaller, less intrusive government supported by minimal taxation derived from a responsible citizenry striving to pursue life, liberty and happiness within the rule of law strictly set forth by the U.S. Constitution — no identity crisis there.

Why don’t we just get back to the basics, it worked to win the majority. Now start practicing the preach and watch the poll numbers increase.

shep1975 March 28, 2006 at 5:48 pm

I think with recent rulings the DeKalb ordinance will be overturned, at least if it makes it to the USSC. Profane speech is protected under the First Amendment. You can now say the “F-word” on broadcast TV as long as it’s during the “safe harbor” period (10PM-6AM).

Cohen vs. California in the 1970s protected profanity as “free speech” as Cohen’s conviction for wearing a jacket that said “F- the Draft” was overturned.

That being said, I will bring up what Ben Franklin said when he came out of the Constitutional Convention and a woman asked him what kind of government was created. Franklin’s response was, “A Republic, if you can keep it.”

We seem to forget that part of being part of a free society requires vigilance and self control on the part of the governed in order to maintain a free society. In a nutshell, just because you CAN do it doesn’t mean you SHOULD do it.

CAN you put a bumpersticker on your car that says, “F-” or “Sh-” or whatever? Yes

SHOULD you? No

Why? Well, even if I’m adult enough to read it, my children (and no Bill, none are on the way yet…I’m talking genericly) can read too and that may be not something I want to expose them to. If it’s in the public square, then I cannot control it.

I can turn off a TV. I can not go to a certain movie. I can control my own speech. I cannot control what someone puts on their car bumper.

Look at speech codes (a.k.a. political correctness). That is a loss of freedom. Although I am not sure of the genesis of speech codes, my guess it started with irresponsible speech by people who just cared about the CAN and gave no thought to the SHOULD. Now, liberty is lost.

However, we all know that the Democrats, like our nurse from Emory, will too defend to the death your right to say “The President is BUSH–“, as long as your politically correct about it.

Bill Simon March 28, 2006 at 5:56 pm

Okay, Jason, but if we’re going to start looking at “should we’s” in the context of doing things, how about applying more truth in advertising with those ridiculous “My daughter is a honor roll student at XYZ Elementary.” The concept of “honor roll” is pretty much crap with today’s education quality, or lack thereof.

spaceygracey March 28, 2006 at 8:51 pm

Dick Morris is the anti-Christ. Or is it Rove? Only Lee Atwater knows fer sure. Or maybe that wacky Three Jack dude who appears to know some weird stuff fer sure. He sounds like one of my ranting free market-worshipping relatives actually.

Beth March 28, 2006 at 10:00 pm

There are words that shouldn’t be on bumper stickers – the f word, the c word.

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