LEO unravels over sticker

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Tall Man, Jan 27, 2005.

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  1. Tall Man

    Tall Man Member

    Dec 30, 2002

    Sticker stuck in cop's craw
    He's subject of probe after coming unglued over bumper theme

    By Brian D. Crecente, Rocky Mountain News
    January 25, 2005

    A Denver police sergeant is under investigation for allegedly threatening to arrest a woman Monday for displaying on her truck a derogatory bumper sticker about President Bush.

    "He told her that this was a warning and that the next time he saw her truck, she was going to be arrested if she didn't remove the sticker," said Alinna Figueroa, 25, assistant manager of The UPS Store where the confrontation took place. "I couldn't believe it."

    Denver police have initiated an investigation into the alleged incident, said Police Chief Gerry Whitman. He declined to comment further.

    About 11 a.m., Shasta Bates, 26, was standing in the shopping center store in the 800 block of South Monaco Parkway when a man walked in and started arguing with her about a bumper sticker on the back of her truck that had "F--- Bush" in white letters on a black background.

    "He was saying it was very sick and wrong and you shouldn't be doing that," Bates said. "He was very offended by it. I said, 'You didn't have to take it so personally.' "

    The two argued for a few minutes, and then the man walked out of the store and stood behind Bates' truck. A few minutes later, the man flagged down police Sgt. Michael Karasek, who was patrolling the area.

    Rocky Mountain News reporter Katie Kerwin McCrimmon, who happened to be at the store at the time, walked up to the two and asked what was going on.

    The man pointed the bumper sticker out to McCrimmon, and then Karasek told her that it was illegal because it was profane, McCrimmon said.

    Reached late Monday, City Attorney Cole Finnegan said he didn't believe there were any city ordinances against displaying a profane bumper sticker.

    Karasek then walked into the store and confronted Bates.

    "He said, 'You need to take off those stickers because it's profanity and it's against the law to have profanity on your truck,' " Bates said. "Then he said, 'If you ever show up here again, I'm going to make you take those stickers off and arrest you. Never come back into that area.' "

    McCrimmon, who had followed the officer into the store, said Karasek wrote down the woman's license-plate number and then told her: "You take those bumper stickers off or I will come and find you and I will arrest you."

    Bates said she hasn't had many complaints about her sticker, which has shared the space on the back of her truck with many other stickers since August.

    She said she put the sticker on her truck because she disagrees with Bush's stance on homosexuality and "other issues."

    "I get some older men who pull up at the side of me and start yelling and cussing," she said, "but it's not a crime unless they take some action."

    Colorado ACLU Legal Director Mark Silverstein said that the alleged threat of arrest clearly violates First Amendment protection.

    "The Supreme Court considered a case about 30-some years ago where a person was prosecuted for wearing a jacket that said, 'F--- the draft,' on the back. The Supreme Court said states could not prohibit people from wearing such a jacket," he said. "They said, 'One man's profanity is another man's lyric.' "

    Ted Halaby, chairman of the Colorado Republican Party, said that while he finds the bumper sticker's message distasteful, he also realizes that it's probably protected under the First Amendment.

    "There are all sorts of derogatory bumper stickers that seem to be covered under the First Amendment," he said, "whether or not you find them personally distasteful."


    Now, I'm not fond of profane stickers, t-shirts, etc., of any persuasion. But my goodness, it just wouldn't occur to me to initiate a confrontation over the issue when my ability to avert my eyes and keep walking was not compromised.

    Tell me: Imagine yourself in similar circumstances. Now imagine finding yourself needing to leave in a hurry for reasons wholly unrelated to the confrontation noted above. Exiting the UPS store, you find Mr. Concerned Citizen standing behind your truck in a resolute manner, thus hampering your ability to back your vehicle out of its parking space. What would you do?

  2. Zundfolge

    Zundfolge Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Wichita, KS
    Well there's the problem right there. Denver PD has a history of jackbooted thuggery*. Although I must say I'm surprised this particular thuggery was done in defense of a *gasp* Republican!

    *(apologies to the good officers in Denver ... all 4 of you :p )
  3. JPL

    JPL Member

    Apr 3, 2004
    Why do I have a funny feeling he'll be promoted and hailed as a hero?
  4. cslinger

    cslinger Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    Nashville, TN
    Tasteless with no imagination yes. Nothing more though. Somebody needs to take a little leave time and maybe do some nice calm fishing or something.

    I probably would have told her that it lacked imagination and then told her some of my more favorite bumper stickers that I have seen regarding Bush. Hey humor is humor and I can take it just as well as I can dish it out. :D
  5. TheFederalistWeasel

    TheFederalistWeasel member

    Aug 1, 2003
    Some states have laws against the public display of profanity, aimed at young children, usually less than 14 years of age.

    GA has a provision under Disorderly Conduct for “using†profanity around a child under 14, which is an arrestable offense. It does not say anything about the “display†of profanity but I would not want to be the one to challenge that law simply because I wanted to show the world just how dim-witted I was.

    You can go to jail for saying F--- Bush around a child under 14, why not go to jail for displaying the same?

    Most children 13 and under can read, I hope…

    The lady is a senseless loon for placing the bumper sticker on her vehicle in the first place, regardless of what the first amendment says.

    Common sense is more or less a given that is implied or instinctively accepted by most courts and clearly she has none or refuses to utilize what little she does possess.
  6. orangeninja

    orangeninja Member

    Dec 4, 2003
    I don't know....I have seen people cited for profanity here in Texas for having the F-word on their shirt or hat or the like.
  7. Old Dog

    Old Dog Member

    Aug 11, 2004
    Back on Puget Sound
    Gee, another "rogue cop" thread, another opportunity for LEO bashing ...

    While I in no way condone the misguided actions of this one cop ... I can almost appreciate the fact that there is at least one person in Denver attempting to uphold some standard of public decency in the community (of course, one has to wonder who really cares about bumper stickers any more) ... A sticker on one's car with an obscenity on it is hardly a sign of a polite society. More a sign of the lack of class on the part of the vehicle's owner, and guaranteed to get more negative attention than positive agreement ...

    For myself, I always hated having to answer my six-year-old daughter's questions about bumper stickers while we sat at stoplights -- "Daddy, what's ____ mean?" "Uh, honey, it, uh, well ..."

    But "jack-booted thuggery?" Only "four good cops" in the whole city? Wow, guess we don't want to be visiting Denver again if things are that bad there ... if the cops there react to bumper stickers, what do they do when they see out-of-state license plates?
  8. SteveS

    SteveS Member

    Jan 3, 2003
    Tasteless, yes. Rude, yes. Unimaginative, yes. Still, it is most likely protected speech. IIRC, there is a case from the early 70's (Cohen v. CA?) where a man was wearing a jacket that said f*** the Draft. He was arrested and his case made it up the Sup. Ct. where they said that it was protected speech under the 1st Amendment. Here in MI, we had the cussing canoeist (sp.?) where a man was chaged for violating a law against swearing in front of women or children. I believe he was the first person charged under this law in decades. An appellate court threw out the conviction and said the law was unconstitutional.
  9. USP45usp

    USP45usp member

    Nov 7, 2004
    As for the bumper sticker, hey, it's a bumper sticker. I've seen the same one with Kerry instead of Bush. I believe that the same company makes both of them, just capitalism at it's best.

    Just remember folks, the 1st amendment does say Freedom of Speech and it doesn't have any exceptions. As we always point out that the Shall not be Infringed doesn't have an exception clause, neither should the freedom of speech. (And yes, you can yell fire in a crowded area, but that isn't the crime, the crime is inciting a riot/stampede).

    Cuss words were looked upon as coming from the uneducated back in our forefathers time (when used around women/children) but other then that, they had no problems with the words or else there would have been exceptions written in.

    So, I say that the law (if it is the law) is wrong. That if it is the law then the LEO was just enforcing the rule of that law (and if not then he was out of bounds on his authority), and that now since it's been brought forward and a lawsuit ensures and the use of such words are ruled free speech then all I have to say is:

    F--- Off :evil:


    *that was a joke folks, don't get sensitive about it.
  10. jsalcedo

    jsalcedo Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    I support the officers actions.

    I have kids and I don't want them exposed to the work F*** until as late as humanly possible.

    There needs to be some standard of public decency. She can have all the
    F*** the world stickers inside her home but don't lay that crap out there where kids can see it.

    What if someone had a custom paintjob on their van that showed explicit intercourse and parked it in front of a preschool? Would it then be ok for the cop to go after the van owner?

    I don't care if the sticker said F*** Kerry, F*** Hitler or F*** gun control it's just not acceptable.
  11. Azrael256

    Azrael256 Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    And there is. I avoid using profanity, particularly in public, as much as possible. This standard was enforced by my parents until I left their house, and I will enforce it on my children someday. When a person fails to live up to my standard, I see it as a reflection of their character, and I am not positively impressed. Obviously you and I share the same standard.

    The supreme court has long held that there are multiple types of speech. If a person were to use profanity in an advertisement, the courts would treat it as "commercial speech," and thus not enjoying the same First Amendment protections. A fine example of this would be a sexually explicit billboard advertising a "gentleman's club." While legal challenges to the advertisement might not stand up in court, the ad is still much less likely to survive the authorities' challenge.

    In this case, the "offender" is clearly practicing what is deemed "political speech." She is making a statement which is not threatening and does not have an obvious tendency to incite public disorder (yelling "FIRE" in a theatre) about a prominent public figure. That is basically the extent of the test. Therefore, the acceptability of her language is irrelevant. Tasteless as it may be, she needs to be left alone by the police.

    In that case, the police would be justified in certain limited actions. They cannot tell the owner to repaint the van, but the police would do fine to order the owner to remove the van under threat of arrest. Such an image, in its particular location, stands a high probability of inciting disorder. Furthermore, how likely do you think it is that such an event would not have incited a riot before the police arrived? Were the owner to park the vehicle in front of his favorite drinking establishment, the justification for demanding its removal would evaporate.
  12. HungSquirrel

    HungSquirrel Member

    Jan 14, 2005
    Alabama, USA
    I actually had the same thing happen to me down here in Alabama...for the same exact phrase! :neener:

    Here's the unconstitutional Alabama law against profanity:
    And here's the Supreme Court case that says public profane writings of a political nature are perfectly legal. (Cohen v. California)

    So :cuss: Bush!
  13. Sean85746

    Sean85746 Member

    Nov 7, 2004
    Mesa, Arizona
    Maybe a "little" off the subject, but a good point

    I have no problem with the display of the sticker, though the sentiment is not one I share. It is not one I would have on my truck, mainly because I personally don't go in for that kind of language around kids.

    Don't get me wrong...I have a potty mouth, but around kids, I really try to set a good example.

    My issue is this:

    What about the new fad of younger "hip-hop" types playing XXX porn on the DVD players in their SUV's, so they can be seen by anyone on the street?

    How much further have we slid down the slippery slope of plain old good taste and common sense?

    It seems like an awful easy way to remove any shadow of a doubt, in my eyes anyway, that you are not just a moron with a loud stereo, but you are also totally lacking in class, taste, decorum, manners, plain old common courtesy, and brain power.

    The local officer I spoke with said there is nothing they can do about it, even though displaying pornography to a minor is a felony.
  14. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

    Dec 24, 2002
    Idahohoho, the jolliest state
    Oh, gosh! Doesn't that Denver cop have any of those mean terrible wicked bad awful horrible dangerous homicidal so-called "assault rifles" to arrest?
  15. spacemanspiff

    spacemanspiff Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    gee, all the cop shoulda done is alter the sticker to add "MY" somewhere in there, and it'd be a-ok.

  16. jefnvk

    jefnvk Member

    Jun 3, 2004
    Metro Detroit, Michigan
    Some of us want to live a life without profanity.

    She wants to rephrase it, fine. Profanity is to be used in private. I am not reading the government supressing speech here, I am reading the government asking this lady to be decent.

    I would bet that if I pulled a billboard around town with a naked lady on it, I'd have someone come after me too.
  17. saltydog452

    saltydog452 Member

    Aug 1, 2004
    Way to go spiff.. :D
  18. Tory

    Tory member

    Aug 29, 2004
    A government "request" ?

    Get real.

    "I am not reading the government supressing speech here, I am reading the government asking this lady to be decent. "

    First, let's dispose of the disingenous analogies. This is NOT a case of public pornography a la billboards towed behind cars, parked in front of daycare centers or readily visible via DVD players in vehicles.

    It IS political speech, precisely what the First Amendment was designed to protect. Don't like it? Don't read it or get over it.

    "Requests" from the government? Like a "request" for identification? Your gun's serial number? Your Social Security number? THOSE friendly, compliance-optional requests? Get a grip. Or a job with the TSA. :scrutiny:

    So a COP who yells at someone AND threatens her in public with arrest because he PERSONALLY finds her flavor of politics not to his liking ISN'T a bully with a badge? What part of "intimidation" do you not comprehend?

    That cop is out of control and a Federal lawsuit waiting to happen. Check 42 USC 1983 and tell us how a police officer abusing his power to threaten a citizen with arrest in the utter absence of ANY crime is NOT a civil rights violation. I'll be waiting for that legal analysis.

    Some real "freedom fighters" on this thread. Fighting AGAINST the freedom of anyone whose thoughts they disagree with....... :barf:
  19. Sindawe

    Sindawe Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Outside The People's Republic of Boulder, CO
    Yeppers. "Freedom for me, but not for thee."

    I find the display of meat all nice and neat and clean in a plastic wrapper to be as offensive as some here find certain anglo-saxon curse words. In my view it sanitizes just where that meat comes from, and I don't want my kids* exposed to the dehumanizing influence of packaged meat for as long as possible. Can we have some decency and keep that stuff from public view?

    * I don't have kids, but I trust you get the point.
  20. jsalcedo

    jsalcedo Member

    Dec 31, 2002
    Free speech is conveyance of ideas.

    If you don't like a politician then have a bumpersticker that says "I hate so and so" or "John Smith is a bad president"

    Speech is regulated on all the airwaves. Rules abound regarding what you can and cannot say either by the FCC or self regulation.

    I think people should be able "say" anything they want.
    Even the NAMBLA people are allowed to say what they want they are just not allowed to advocate it.

    Plastering the word "F***" in bolt letters on the back of a vehicle where my 7 year old is going to ask "daddy what is f*** Bush" is beyond the scope of what I consider acceptable in our society.

    So then said 7 year old walks into class the next day and says "F*** Bush.
    not having any idea what it means and gets suspended from school. Then bumper sticker has then harmed someone.

    If you advocate letting people write "F***" wherever they want then we should allow it on Sesame street, public radio, billboards and school essays so we can just get it over with.
  21. Robert Hairless

    Robert Hairless Member

    Oct 11, 2003
    I haven't been 26 years old in far too long a time but I wonder how Shasta Bates, 26, will like it if people recognize that she has given them license to profane her, her parents, her siblings, and whatever else she might hold dear. My suspicion is that she might be incensed. But that's the most marvellous aspect of rudeness and lack of consideration: they beget rudeness and inconsiderate behavior. Young Miss Bates has an unnecessarily rough life in store for herself. She is creating it herself. I also suspect that she might insist upon receiving respect from other people. She doesn't seem to realize that one must earn respect.
  22. Erinyes

    Erinyes Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    Northwest GA
    I find it highly hipocrytical for some of you guys who fight so hard for our Second Amendment rights to say our First Amendment rights should be curtailed, especially in regard to political speech. I see so many complaints about how we're becoming a nanny state, and then see some of y'all say that we need laws restricting profanity.

    Profanity may be uncooth, uninspired, and rude, but the Constitution protects our rights to be uncooth, uninspired, and rude. What's the difference between banning curse words from any form of public speech, and banning, say, flash suppressors and bayonet lugs from civilian firearms? Neither serve a particularly useful function. Both have a tendency to offend those with fragile sensibilities.

    The Constitution guarantees many rights for us. Included in those are Ms. Bates' right to free political speech. Not included in those rights is the right not to be offended.
  23. thorn726

    thorn726 Member

    Dec 15, 2004
    berkeley, CA

    ahahahhahaha. didnt this guy have something better to do ????

    come on.

    any way as someone who should be on the side of the complainers,
    as one person put it, free speech is about ideas.

    also, i have the freedom not to have my life invaded by you.
    so while i am totally into saying all kinds of horrible things about
    Dubya, the SchvartzenYAnkitter, just about everyone driving near my vehicle,

    and being a NYer where i was raised on words , well my dad liked bad words for other drivers even more than i do, so the law in Georiga and elswhere makes me nervous, but should little kids really be exposed to these words?

    i think it should be up to the parents, not you or me, so plastering, or saying things loud in public, it invades peoples space.

    this collecting forum i am on, we cnat swear, they upgraded it to if you type a word that gets censored, youre banned. i never minded, i mean typing how hard is it not to swear.
    ANYway= THInk of this=
    whatever the word is , picture a very small, very sweet child saying it.

    does that seem right?

    and how many kids utter their first swear by accident, just repeating what they heard.

    people should have more class. F bush doesnt do anything productive.

    how about Bush gave me $300 and took away my dad's job?

    no swearing!
  24. CentralTexas

    CentralTexas Member

    Jun 2, 2004
    Austin Texas

    1- I'm against censorship so this is just food for thought
    2-if the FCC can fine for obscenity (for using the 7 words ban rule) on the publics airwaves because it might harm children- then why won't prosecutions of shirts/bumperstickers hold up to court challenges also?
  25. LaVere

    LaVere Member

    Jul 10, 2003
    Oh Well ?

    My young neighbor has a bumper stick that says " Buck Fush"

    I just don't let it bother me.

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