Freedom of speech. Exactly what is it? We all know the old standard about yelling, “Fire!” in a crowded theater. But, what about offensive language? And what defines “offensive.” Surely the standards are different from a biker bar and say, Holy Mary Catholic Church. And, how about slander, libel, or just straight up lies. Political truth. What is truth?
In point of fact you cannot define truth. You can explain your opinion from your perspective, but in the distance from your five senses to your mouth “truth” becomes subjective. My granddaughter loves beets. That’s her “truth.” I can’t look a beet in the face, so that’s mine. We are both right, but consider each other wrong as we both hold to our individual truths.
And then there’s the cops. I was once arrested for talking back. There was an altercation in my yard, and here come the Po Po. Now, I’m gonna tell you right now, Po Po in your yard is never a good thing. And, we were all drunk. Seems my brother had knocked someone in the head with a rodeo belt buckle. Hey, it’s Texas, ok? Here came the cutest little cop I’d ever seen. Short blonde. Looked like a high school cheerleader. She had the cutest way of putting her hands on her hips. I can see now that she had no intention of arresting anyone, and all us guys were enamored by her “command” of the situation. I had the right to remain silent, unfortunately after all those cocktails I didn’t have the ability. After several warnings she said, “If you say one more word I’m gonna place you under arrest!”
I leaned in close to her, making note that she smelled like baby powder, and said, “One more word!”
Well, Aphrodite turned into Wonder Woman and cuffed and stuffed me. Even though it was nice to be so close to her it was a bummer to spend an hour and seventeen minutes in jail. The jailer appeared and said, “Precious isn’t filing on you. You are free to go.” Precious! My arresting officer was named “Precious?” Exiting the police station she was in the parking lot, leaning on her squad car. She offered me a ride home and when I got out of her car she gave me the sweetest smile I ever saw.
Now, for all you legal eagles out there, I know you are counting all the mistakes in my arrest. But, you forgot one thing. Although Precious was an officer, she was also a human being, and a beautiful one at that. She had been dispatched to a Saturday night cowboy fight. Alone! Maybe dispatch knew more about Precious than we did.
A cop never knows what lies within an interaction with the public. Even walking up to an ordinary traffic stop is not routine. That’s why old school cops will touch your rear stop light. That way, if things go south, his (or her) fingerprints are on the car. You can never tell what someone is thinking. And, to be honest the officer is most likely not there to hand out a good citizenship medal. So, you have two opposing “truths” here.
America is trigger happy. I’m pro second amendment, but I can totally understand an officer’s apprehension when approaching a car at night full of drunken men. With that kind of tension the officer cannot be expected to examine freedom of speech when a Chief Justice ruling on a drunken argument over a beer keg (Yeah, and you’re paying these people, folks!) still couldn’t get it right.
Freedom of speech is counter balanced by the right to remain silent, which in and of itself is a form of that freedom. The problem with the Bill of Rights is that it was written by eighteenth century men in the light of their truths and it is being defined by twenty-first men (and women) in the understanding of truths the founding fathers had never even heard of.
The Butcher Shop