Supreme Court Declines Profanity Case
Every now and then, someone gets charged with a crime (usually a version of disorderly conduct) for uttering a naughty word in public. Courts often find that language common in locker rooms, high schools, and HBO isn't entitled to constitutional protection if, uttered publicly, it disturbs someone, or might have, particularly if the profanity falls upon the tender ears of a minor.
The Supreme Court declined to take a case that tested the limits of the government's ability to criminalize foul language. Malachi Robinson, a candidate for Stupid Criminal of the Week --
was walking down the street about midnight four years ago when he called the Missoula county deputy in a nearby squad car a "(expletive) pig." The deputy got out and confronted Robinson, who uttered another expletive at the officer.
It should come as no surprise that Robinson was arrested. But, unnecessarily obnoxious and offensive as Robinson was being, didn't he have a right to express his opinion about public employees? He didn't cause a confrontation; the officer could have stayed in the squad car. Police officers aren't children; they might not like what they hear, but this probably wasn't the first time the officer had encountered abusive opinions about law enforcement. Shouldn't the first amendment protect the right to be publicly disrespectful?
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