This sticker offended many sensibilities
There’s controversy brewing in one Texas county over a sticker that’s been applied to the rear window of a truck.
Fort Bend County Sheriff Tory E. Nehls posted a photo of a white truck in traffic, and the rear window was covered with a large sticker that stated, “F**k Trump and F**k You for Voting For Him.” He wrote about the response he’s been getting about the sticker in a now-deleted Facebook post, “I have received numerous calls regarding the offensive display on this truck as it is often seen along FM 359. If you know who owns this truck or it is yours, I would like to discuss it with you.”
But he made it clear that the person who owned it could face more than a tongue-lashing.
The Sheriff then seemingly threatened the owner of the truck with a misdemeanor charge, saying, “Our Prosecutor has informed us she would accept Disorderly Conduct charges regarding it, but I feel we could come to an agreement regarding a modification to it.”
Texas Penal Code 42.01 defines the crime of disorderly conduct, “A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly: (1) uses abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, and the language by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”
Commenters argued with the Sheriff and with each other over whether the truck owner was committing a crime. Facebook user KM MO stated, “This person is doing nothing to break the peace. They are merely speaking their opinion. They are responsible only for their actions, NOT how others choose to react to what is being said.”
One mother discussed the vulgar words used in the sticker, saying, “I’ve seen this truck, and I would be pleased if the owner of this vehicle was prosecuted for disorderly conduct. My children saw this, and I was infuriated they were subjected to this offensive display.”
“If I had to explain what ‘grab them by the p**sy’ meant to my kids, you can explain what ‘F**K Trump’ means to yours,” Facebook user Kasey Rose-Hodge replied.
Fight for the Right
Some commenters acknowledged that what the truck owner was doing was legal, but it was totally irresponsible. Arkiedog23 said on CBS News, “Free Speech is a very important right, and carries with it a lot of responsibility to be used properly. It also requires common sense and judgement. The owner of this truck doesn’t have any. The sheriff is correct, this guy is trying to stir up trouble, maybe even some road rage.”
The ACLU got into the fight explaining that they would fight for the truck owner’s right to keep the sticker. They reposted the Sheriff’s photo of the truck and said, “No Sheriff Nehls, you can’t prosecute speech just because it contains words you don’t like. The owner of this truck should contact the ACLU of Texas.”
As people got increasingly agitated over the Sheriff’s threat to give the truck owner a misdemeanor, he said that he wouldn’t take any legal action against the unknown truck owner. He said that he would like to speak with the owner about his “concerns” for the incendiary sticker.
He cited legal precedent as a reason to take back his threat of legal action — a 1971 Supreme Court Case ruled in favor of a man wearing a jacket with an expletive on it that was in protest of the Vietnam War.
The owner of the truck finally came forward to SFGate after hearing about all of the controversy over her sticker. Karen Fonesca explained that her husband Mike owns the truck, but she regularly drives it. He applied the sticker shortly after Trump was sworn into office. He has no plans to remove it “until the weather takes it down or [he] replaces it with something else.”
Both Karen and Mike have said that it makes some people unhappy, but there have also been some more serious consequences to it. Karen told KHOU11, “I’ve been stopped numerous times [by police], but they can’t write me a ticket.”
Karen actually used to work for Sheriff Nehls at the county jail. She said that she has a legal right to display the sticker in public, and she doesn’t mean to cause “hate or animosity.”
The Sheriff may have issues with the First Amendment, but he is a strong supporter of the Second Amendment. He made headlines earlier this year during the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey when he said, “I would caution those that want to come and prey on our people here in Fort Bend County that are suffering so much right now, you may want to stay out of Fort Bend County because you could leave this county in a bag.”
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