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I love the first amendment, but I hate what you say with it

August 20, 2008 - Summer Wallace-Minger

So I am trying to get back up on the blog horse. I used to hate on people who didn't blog consistently (holler, Kirk). I used to think "how hard is it to set aside fifteen minutes on a regular basis, so I can read what you've written and waste fifteen minutes of my time?" Maybe not fifteen minutes. I read fast.

People are telling me they enjoy this blog and look forward to it. Okay. Other people tell me that they want that two minutes of their lives back. Okay. Conflicting messages. I will go with the people who love me, because they would never massage my ego or lead me wrong, right?

Anyway, the title of this blog refers to a t-shirt I saw. I was driving home with my kids, so I could drop them off with their father.

That sounds like we are divorced or something, but we aren't. It's the third week of the month. I have nine meetings to attend in four days, five interviews to do this week and a charity event to attend this weekend. Plus, I have to find time to write about it all. So I don't see my family.

Anyway, back to the original (or not so) topic of the blog. This guy's shirt. He was riding a motorcycle. I keep an eye on motorcyclists. My dad was almost killed in a motorcycle vs. car accident when I was ninteen. I don't need to visit anything like that on anyone else, so I watch.

I saw this man pull up, and on the back of his shirt was written a declaritive command. I can't even elude to what was written, it was so vile. I am told I can be "edgy" with this blog, but I suspect I can be nowhere near that edgy.

So this man is riding down the street, wearing this shirt, and I think "hey, buddy, my kids can read." I don't need to have that conversation with my six-year-old.

He has the right to wear that shirt and look like a misogynic tool. I have the right to pull up next to him, roll the window down and scream: "Put a jacket over that, jagoff!"

The first amendment protects us like that. I love the first amendment. I don't want any gestapo kicking my door down because I wrote an article about the water board, and they didn't like it. I don't civil rights activists to be sprayed with a fire hose. I don't want the government telling me I can't read Fahrenheit 451.

The first amendment also protects this guy. I love that. We can't start censoring people, because that's a slippy slope.

I do wish he'd exercise that right a little more judiciously. Thank all that is right and good my kids didn't notice this guy and his shirt. They still think babies come from the Island Where the Wild Babies Are.

This guy reminded me of those teenagers I see at the mall, who walk in big groups, laughing and cursing loudly. I don't mind the big groups or the laughing, but I do mind the cursing.

Can you not see my eight-year-old daughter? You have the right to curse, but don't I have the right not to have my child exposed to that? Again, where do we draw the line between public behavior and private? It feels like the separation between the two gets thinner and thinner. I don't want to impinge on your rights, but why aren't you worried about doing the same to me?

So, if you see me walking up to your teenage child and exercising my right to free speech by telling them what I think of their cursing, just remember: The same laws that protect your child's ability to speak like a vocabulary-impaired guttersnipe allow me to express what I think about it.

See you at the mall.


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