First Amendment protects cursing, criticizing government on speeding ticket

Three years ago a Connecticut man was arrested, handcuffed, and jailed on charges of “aggravated harassment” for returning a paid speeding ticket with an expression of how he felt about the government of Liberty, New York. He replaced Liberty with “Tyranny” and added the phrase,“F*ck your sh*tty town b*tches.”

If this seems absolutely absurd to you, you are not alone. But this is what happened to William Barboza.

Thankfully, this week a federal court in New York vindicated Barboza by ruling his speech was protected under the First Amendment.

As Supreme Court Justice Harlan wrote in Cohen v. California, another case centered around the famous four-letter expletive: “One man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.”



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