Thursday, May 24, 2012

Are t-shirts protected speech?


The shirt in question is pretty hardcore. Too hardcore for American Airlines, who booted an unnamed passenger off a connecting flight for wearing it, according to Think Progress.

Interestingly, the post points out, the phrase was coined by an actual Senator, Oklahoma District 11 State Senator Judy Eason McIntyre, who Jezebel says showed up with it at an Oklahoma rally against the (since-struck down) "Personhood bill".

Via Jez
And that raises interesting questions about the evolution of everyday language. On its own, I'm not surprised a shirt that said "fuck" in big letters rattled the staff at American Airlines. They're scared of fretful parents causing a fuckstorm of bad press.

But when a democratically elected Senator has used the same words in a political statement, does the "fuck" become part of a protected right to free expression? If the dreaded F-bomb is now so commonplace in the conversation of educated and mature people, can we really claim a right to protect our children from it?

Things are getting passionate down there, while the election heats up. I expect to see and hear many more fucks to come.

You can read the original (second-hand) story at RH Reality Check.

7 comments:

  1. To answer the question in the title, yes, t-shirts (and items of clothing in general) are protected speech, according to Cohen v. California. AA could argue that they have a right to restrict speech on the plane, but it probably wouldn't hold up under the law as it stands today.

    Yay for learning something useful in law school.

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  2. Images are really impressive. I think images play important part in articles and blogs. That’s what making this post more attractive and interesting.

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  3. sorry, but i am bothered by the use of the eff word, both on the tea shirt and in the blog.

    if you cannot make your point w/o using cuss words, then you really ought to reconsider your own development and skills. and then maybe development them some so you can come up with better words than cuss words.

    I-)

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  4. mellowyel, what's the lawyerly difference between protected speech and being offended by someone's 'protected speech'?

    I-)

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  5. > Whatever the f

    exactafreakinf0cktamentally, dear sir or madam, as the case may be! :-)

    I-)

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