Free speech or public indecency? Where do your rights end?


Tim Cushing

What to say? Is there a limit to free speech? It's become increasingly harder to determine what is free speech. "Anything is considered free speech today," states senior Ben Parks.

Austin Mendenhall, Reporter

Earlier this month Karen Fonseca of Texas was pulled over and threatened with a disorderly conduct charge. The reason for this charge, she had a window decal that said: “F*** Trump and F*** you for voting for him.” After being pulled over Fonseca had another decal made which read, “F***  Troy Nehls and F*** you for voting for him.” Nehls was the officer who pulled her over. Fonseca says she is considering filing a civil rights lawsuit against Nehls citing her first amendment right was violated.

The first amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment, of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

This is where the problem stems from. Is it alright to use profane language in public and say that it is your right to do so? Profane language is protected under the first amendment…partially. Fighting words, words used to incite a riot or threats are not protected. Most people when they get swore at, tend to become violent thus possibly inciting unlawful action. Contempt of cop is when a certain behavior is perceived as disrespectful by an officer. The officer may issue a citation or attempt an arrest due to a lack of compliance, whether the disobedience is legally protected or not.

Remember though, Fonseca was using this vulgarity towards the president. It is illegal to threaten the life of, kidnap, or make any attempt to injure the president. Personally, I don’t think that Forseca’s decal falls into this category. Many people make fun of the president everyday through social media and other outlets with little to no repercussions.

Ben Parks, a senior, says, “I don’t see it as misconduct. Swearing in public isn’t a crime.” Free speech is free speech and free speech is guaranteed in the Constitution.”

Swearing in public isn’t illegal, is it socially acceptable? Mostly not. What you say is protected, for the most part, but always choose your words carefully.