Is profanity protected by the First Amendment? | The Tylt
Is profanity protected by the First Amendment?
After receiving complaints from Houston residents, a Texas sheriff threatened to bring disorderly conduct charges against a woman for displaying an obscene anti-Trump sticker on her truck that read "F--K TRUMP AND F--K YOU FOR VOTING FOR HIM."
“I have received numerous calls regarding the offensive display on this truck as it is often seen along FM 359. If you know who owns this truck or it is yours, I would like to discuss it with you. Our Prosecutor has informed us she would accept Disorderly Conduct charges regarding it, but I feel we could come to an agreement regarding a modification to it.”
The truck driver defended the sticker on her car, claiming she was just expressing her right to free speech.
"It's not to cause hate or animosity," Fonseca said. "It's just our freedom of speech and we're exercising it."
But experts argue profanity isn't always protected by the First Amendment.
Certain categories of speech are not entitled to First Amendment protection, including fighting words, true threats and incitement to imminent lawless action. If a person engages in profane fighting words or utters a true threat with profanity, those words may not be protected speech.
Furthermore, though you may have a right to curse on the street, don’t assume you have a right to curse at your public employer or at your public school. Context — as well as content — is important in First Amendment law.
Some believe that obscene and explicit images and language, when displayed in public, may actually violate the law.
But others argue profanity is in fact protected by the First Amendment. When Pennsylvania law enforcement began ticketing people for using curse words back in 2010, the ACLU sued the state police commissioner for violating citizen's right to free speech.
The ACLU is now suing the state police commissioner on behalf of several people cited for cussing, including a mother of three who called a motorcycle driver an asshole after he nearly ran her over while she was out walking. When she called the police to report the incident, the cops cited her for swearing. Such cases are apparently commonplace.
An ACLU lawyer told the Intelligencer, “We hope this lawsuit helps teach the state police an important lesson about respecting how people choose to express themselves.”
Many still argue using profanity in public where children can see or hear it shouldn't be allowed.
You can’t display in open view to the public profanity . It’s disrespectful and childish. Free speech bullshit has gone to far. These people should be ashamed of themselves
But other believe a commitment to free speech is a commitment to all speech, and profanity should not be excluded from that.
Sheriff Nehls clearly is a part of #Cult45. Charging the owner of the car with disorderly conduct is ridiculous, and it would infringe on the 1st Amendment. As the ACLU of Texas said, you can't ban free speech because it has a profanity in it.