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Nevada
01-27-2005, 06:02 PM
I beg your ever livin' pardon...this is ridiculous

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."




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Lady Sarah
01-27-2005, 06:12 PM
I've seen these. I myself find them distasteful.

Would I like to march up and peel them off the car? hell yes.
Would I actually do it? No. Why?

Because my parents served in the military that fought to defend that person's right to express their opinions - no matter how distasteful and offensive it is.

My only complaint is that these sticker bearers cannot seem to find a more eloquent way of expressing their dissatisfaction.

Magdalene
01-27-2005, 08:41 PM
To be blunt, I rather hope she gets fined or something for the profanity. I don't care what she thinks of Bush, but I am sick and tired of seeing "F*** (insert whatever) on bumperstickers, t-shirts, etc etc etc.

Just because you have the right to say a certain word doesn't mean you should. There's a time and place.

And if people aren't going to use the common sense God gave 'em to realize this, then they have no right to be mad when those of us tired of it start suggesting laws against this stuff be passed.

Nevada
01-27-2005, 09:09 PM
While I don't appreciate the profanity I would never support any law that censors or restricts a persons right to use it. It is an individuals right to express themselves. Personally there are more eloquent ways to do so, but some others prefer blunt and direct. For the police officer to try to use his shield to initimidate a person into removing something he personally deemed offensive is appalling and cannot be tolerated. If he truly thought it was illegal then he needs to be retrained in the local laws he is trying to enforce.

Eric McTavish
01-28-2005, 09:21 AM
this cop should be reprimanded (and possibly charged!)


"You take those bumper stickers off or I will come and find you and I will arrest you."
Terroristic Threat...Threat of stalking

"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.' "
Violation of civil rights...

Who does this cop think he is??? That state AND town HAS NO Ordinance against "profane" slogans/stickers...

"[O]ne man's vulgarity is another's lyric."
-- John Marshall Harlan, Supreme Court justice, 1971

Sorry this thing really ticks me off..

daBaroness
01-28-2005, 11:23 AM
I've personally become blind to profanity - written or verbal. It's so prevalent that I guess I just turn a deaf eye and ear to as much of it as possible. Frankly, when I hear someone who can't speak a single sentence without dropping the "F-bomb" or other cuss words about three times (yes, it is a verb, noun, adjective, etc.) I just think they're either low class and trashy or are vocabulary-challenged. Either way - to me they're just plain stupid and I do my best not to associate with stupid people.

That said - my real beef in this situation is the cop. Too many times in my own experience with my 20-year-old son's run-ins with officers of the law it seems many of them either have delusions of being a member of the legislative branch or very vivid imaginations ... they have a tendency to manufacture laws out of thin air to either intimidate or impress the law-challenged citizens; they trump up some flimsy probable cause in hopes of really finding something they can get arrest points (or generate revenue) for; or randomly enforce stupid little ordinances (like curfew violation) because they couldn't find anything else and they just HAD to be the big, bad cop.

Sounds to me like the cop in this situation was doing exactly that - stroking his own dic... er ego by flapping his gums and thumping his chest just to salve some personal power trip. Don't get me wrong - there are some terrific cops out there who are more concerned with helping people than getting their own rocks off. But the ones who misuse or abuse the small amount of authority their badge (but more often their gun) gives them tend to spoil the reputations of the whole lot.

My mother calls most cops rednecks in uniform. And serious studies have found that the personalities of some of those gung-ho cops and those of criminals are very, very similar. I think it's the adrenaline-junkie, thrill-seeker types who are separated only by the side of the law they come down on. And sometimes that doesn't apply - there are certainly a number of dirty cops in just about any law enforcement agency.

I never thought of cops as anything but Officer Friendly until my son became a target because of his age and his mixed racial heritage. From his first run-in he was labeled black by the cops - and this legacy along with blatent racial profiling has made him a target in our county. His attorney, other attorneys, acquaintances, our doctor and others who wouldn't normally cry wolf have told me I need to move out of Clay county because the cops and the courts are notoriously harsh on people of color. I know one cop (who looked more like a skinhead than a copy) had to pick his jaw up off the floor when he saw/met me. He was goading my son and the other boys he'd arrested when I walked up, asked who he was and then having overheard what he said to them replied, "Officer XXXX, I think it would be prudent of you to distance yourself from these young men. I'm sure you wouldn't to give even the appearance of impropriety on your part, especially with the number of attorneys and witnesses present." The asshat about choked up his gonads, mumbled something unintelligible and slinked away. We got a continuance and the charges were eventually dropped because Officer Klan never showed his face to testify again.

The best defense against these types is to have some knowledge of the law - especially your rights. Cops will often employ any tact they think will suit their purposes. They're not above lying. And there are myriad ways they can manipulate paperwork and processes to cover their less-appropriate activities. Police reports come up missing or were never filed (because the computer were down). Evidence comes up missing or is destroyed when it conflicts with reports and officer testimony. The worst part is there is little to be done to stop this rampant, borderline illegal activity.

I'm glad the office is being called to task in this situation. There are a number of officers I'd have loved to exposed as dirty.

Emrld
01-29-2005, 02:47 PM
I respect and understand Freedom of Speech
But there is a time and place for everything . . . .
Parents (if the choose to) may attempt to limit their childrens viewing of profanity, pornography, etc.
Bumper Stickers in plain site on a vehicle or certain movies playing in car DVD where other vehicles can see in, truly effects a parents ability to protect their child.
Public ads campaigns are not allowed to use profanity. Only cable is allowed to leave it in the script.
I don't see why it should be allowed for a person to make a judgement call for other peoples children.
I am not agreeing with how the officer handled the situation but I can see where his frustration comes from.
The election is over. . . . Bush was elected . . .this is where my broken record statement comes in. If you don't like something in the government find out what you can do to change it. Putting a bumper sticker on your car doesn't fix anything. All this sticker does is invoke anger, support indiferance, or have a like minded person like it. . . .it doesn't change the issue the woman wants changed.
Yes, people have rights and I am glad that I have the right to say what I want on this board. I also know that for the most part people will read what I have to say and it will cause them to think. That does not mean agee with me but, they will at least look at this from a different point of view. I also am aware that people looking on this site know what they are looking at and are not of an age that their parents are watching / protecting them.
Basically there is a time and a place for things. . .car bumper stickers are not the place for profanity.

Dedeley
01-30-2005, 08:20 AM
I don't see why it should be allowed for a person to make a judgement call for other peoples children.

Exactly. And that same rule applies to abortion protesters who run around with signs with graphic pictures of partial birth abortion on the main street of my little city, and other places across the country. This practice led to a very interesting conversation with my 9 year old little boy, much sooner than I wanted to have that conversation.

As others have said, I totally support free speech and first amendment rights, but there has to be some sort of thought regarding the appropriateness of it.

Our local political commentator (a kid who writes slogans on a sheet and hangs it from his porch) manages to express himself well without resorting to improper public displays. The sign currently hanging there? "The antidote to despair is action."

Magdalene
01-30-2005, 02:27 PM
I respect and understand Freedom of Speech
But there is a time and place for everything . . . .
Parents (if the choose to) may attempt to limit their childrens viewing of profanity, pornography, etc.
Bumper Stickers in plain site on a vehicle or certain movies playing in car DVD where other vehicles can see in, truly effects a parents ability to protect their child.
Public ads campaigns are not allowed to use profanity. Only cable is allowed to leave it in the script.
I don't see why it should be allowed for a person to make a judgement call for other peoples children.
I am not agreeing with how the officer handled the situation but I can see where his frustration comes from.
The election is over. . . . Bush was elected . . .this is where my broken record statement comes in. If you don't like something in the government find out what you can do to change it. Putting a bumper sticker on your car doesn't fix anything. All this sticker does is invoke anger, support indiferance, or have a like minded person like it. . . .it doesn't change the issue the woman wants changed.
Yes, people have rights and I am glad that I have the right to say what I want on this board. I also know that for the most part people will read what I have to say and it will cause them to think. That does not mean agee with me but, they will at least look at this from a different point of view. I also am aware that people looking on this site know what they are looking at and are not of an age that their parents are watching / protecting them.
Basically there is a time and a place for things. . .car bumper stickers are not the place for profanity.

Agreed....and y'know something? Even those of us who *don't* have kids don't want to see the profanity coming at us at all times. Yes, I swear, but usually around people I know well who won't be offended. I try very hard not to do so around perfect strangers. It's just not done.

I remember when I was on a bowling league a few years back, and a woman came in wearing a t-shirt that said, "Go F*** Yourself." And I just snapped. I'm in there to have fun, have a good time, and every time this woman goes up to her lane, I see that. Turns out everybody in my entire group (who like me, may swear but chooses their audience carefully) was annoyed by that. So we complained to the management. He initially said, "I can't make her do anything," but after a threat that we would pull the league out of his establishment and go elsewhere, he approached her and told her that she would have to either change her shirt or turn in inside out. She did the latter, and complained loudly about how, "Some people just can't be adult and deal with bad words," whereupon I got annoyed and said, "If some people were truly adult, they'd know when to leave the bad words at home." (For once, my brain provided my mouth with a great comeback in a timely manner!) She shut up after that, but c'mon--this woman was about my age. Did she really think that was appropriate?

Maybe there isn't a law against it here in Denver, but to be honest, speaking as somebody living here, I'm glad somebody said something. I'm tired of seeing that nonsense from everyday quarters.

saphoenixsilver
01-30-2005, 05:22 PM
I have to agree there is a time and place for everything including swearing. I will be honest. I swear, a lot, but I do not do it at work unless I am in the back talking to a co-worker who doesn't mind, nor do I swear in front of children if I can help it. Do I slip, yes, but I do not intentionally try to warp the minds of the innocent. I definatly think that bumperstickers like the one in question should be limited to someone's collection at home, where it can be viewed by that person, and people who share the same ideas. They should not be forced apon the general public where people who might get offended will, and where children can see them. I am not a parent, I have no children myself, but I do have two adorable nieces who I know I would not appreciate being exposed to something like that. Does the woman have the legal right to have the sticker on her car, yes. Morally should she, no. That is a problem though. We have a lot of rights gaurenteed to us by the constitution and laws, but morally should we exercise them at all times, no. There is a time and place for everything, including freedom speech and expression, and profanity around kids is just not a part of it in my opinion. But as we know, Mine is just one opinion and it is my right to express it, and for that I am grateful!

Jessa
01-31-2005, 03:59 AM
To those who are saying that there is a place for everything, but not always in public, i have a question. Are you advocating that so-called inappropriate speach should be limited or defined by law, or simply lamenting people's serious lack of manners?

I agree that offsensive material is, well, offensive at times. But, its a slippery slope to go from passing decency laws, to restricting ideas based on politics or religious or phylisophical expression.

Emrld
01-31-2005, 10:49 AM
Well if someone pays for a billboard they are limited as to what they can put on it.
If someone buys advertising time on TV (not cable channels) or radio they are limited.
I would think the same rules and regs should apply for public forums.

Nevada
01-31-2005, 11:17 AM
But then you get into areas of who decideds what is acceptable.....I agree profanity runs rampant and have had a couple of interesting discussions with my 7 year old niece because of her over hearing some swearing from a couple of construction guys....and a t shirt she saw someone wearing at walmart....kids are going to be exposed to vulgarity no matter where they are, either in written or oral form....is it right...nope..is it a fact of life...yup...I put my mom through the same thing around the same age.....course having an older brother and his friends around didnt help matters :D ....but for an officer to threaten to arrest someone over a bumpersticker he deemed offensive is going too far....

Cyranno DeBoberac
01-31-2005, 12:45 PM
but for an officer to threaten to arrest someone over a bumpersticker he deemed offensive is going too far....

And if I had to guess, I'd say the officer's personal objection was less about the verb in the sentence than it was about the object (i.e.: a "Fuck Kerry" bumpersticker probably would have gotten the driver out of a speeding ticket).

Now, I'm not debating the merits of the sticker itself, I'm just saying that if profanity was the only issue, the cop probably would have been a little more professional about it.

Drea Beth
01-31-2005, 02:57 PM
I agree that offsensive material is, well, offensive at times. But, its a slippery slope to go from passing decency laws, to restricting ideas based on politics or religious or phylisophical expression.

My grandpa once told me that swearing and profanity was the tool if the ignorant, only demonstrating the lack of vocabulary to express oneself in a more eloquent manner.

I have not desire to squelch anyone's thoughts or ideas. I just wish that sometimes those thoughts could be expressed in a slightly more gentile manner in public.

There was a time not too long ago where swearing and other such profanity were not acceptable period. Where a group of teens in the mall would be asked to either stop with the language or leave. I have a 13 year old and fight the battle of what I consider acceptable vocabulary every day. I even think I'm gaining ground! :star: