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Free Speech? Middle Finger to the Wind

Posted on September 17, 2014 in General Criminal Law Issues - Northern KY

Middle finger to the wind, to quote the great KidRock.

Motherfucker!  Are all words protected by free speech or are there some words that are inherently “bad”?  Who defines bad words?

KRS 525.070 defines harassment, when with intent to intimidate, harass, annoy, or alarm another person, he or she: … (c) in a public place, makes an offensively coarse utterance, gesture, or display, or addresses abusive language to any person present.  

There is perhaps be enough ambiguity about that statement to raise a number of additional questions:

(1) Who determines the intent?  The actor?  The recipient?  A “reasonable man” (often defined by the jury)?

(2) What is offensively coarse?  What is offensively coarse to your grandmother is common language to a sailor.  (see also; a nun v. Andrew Dice Clay). 

(3) Does the gesture/utterance have to be toward a specific person?  If made to the world, does that apply?  Harassment is typically toward an individual, not society as a whole.  Typically the charge of disorderly conduct would apply.

These are but a few questions which have arisen in a current court case.  As counsel, I cannot comment on the case in question, however would encourage following in the media.

If you have first amendment questions and your rights, seek an attorney who has handled these questions and defends rights.  If you have been charged with a crime or have questions, consult with Michael Bouldin at mwbouldin2@gmail.com or call 859-581-6453.