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The Knucklehead of the Day award

Today's winner is South Carolina State Senator Robert Ford. He gets the award for the following-

S.C. Senator Robert Ford has introduced a bill that would make it a felony to communicate a profane term in public.

So, yes, the would-be governor Ford (yes, he's running in 2010) wants to make it a state responsibility to arrest and penalize folks $5,000 or 5 years in jail for cursing in public.

His bill says:

It is unlawful for a person in a public forum or place of public accommodation wilfully and knowingly to publish orally or in writing, exhibit, or otherwise make available material containing words, language, or actions of a profane, vulgar, lewd, lascivious, or indecent nature.

A person who violates the provisions of this section is guilty of a felony and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than five thousand dollars or imprisoned not more than five years, or both.

If swearing became a crime, most citizens of South Carolina would be felons.

Eugene Volokh of the Volokh Conspiracy writes-

To begin with, of course, this is unconstitutionally overbroad under Cohen v. California (the Fuck the Draft case), even if "profane" is read to mean "vulgar" rather than "characterized by irreverence or contempt for God or sacred principles or things." It may also be unconstitutionally vague; see Reno v. ACLU, which suggests that such terms are potentially vague when their scope isn't narrowed by other provisions of the statute (compare Hamling v. U.S.).

But beyond this, what's shocking is how ridiculously broad this proposal is, even to people who I take it would disagree with Cohen:

1. If you say "fuck" or, I suppose, "damn" or "shit" around your own teenager, you're a felon.

2. If you give, lend, or sell a book, newspaper, or movie to a minor that contains any such words, you're a felon.

3. If you give the King James Version of the Bible to a minor, knowing that it contains the word "piss," I expect you're a felon, too. (I set aside "damn" and "hell" on the theory that they might not be treated as "vulgar" when used in a religious sense rather than figuratively as insults or expressions of disgust.)

4. Two 16-year-olds can be sexually involved in South Carolina (as can an adult and a 16-year-old), but under this law they'd be felons if they talk lewdly to each other. (Why is teenage sex bad? Because it might lead to lewd talk.)

What is Senator Ford thinking?

Was he thinking at all or is this legislation just kind of ploy? It certainly is dumb and unconstitutional and that's why I name South Carolina State Senator Robert Ford today's Knucklehead of the Day.


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Comments (9)

One thing about Robert Ford... (Below threshold)

One thing about Robert Ford, he is very entertaining, we never know what he is going to come up with next. He announced this week that he is running for Governor! The entertainment value alone is going to be spectacular!

I say Fuck that bill...... (Below threshold)

I say Fuck that bill...

What an asshole.... (Below threshold)

What an asshole.

"If swearing became a crime... (Below threshold)

"If swearing became a crime, most citizens of South Carolina would be felons."

It was probably a tongue-in-cheek comment, but, as a South Carolinian, what the $#@* are you trying to imply?

Remember that scene in "Bev... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Remember that scene in "Beverly Hills Cop" when the cop says to Axel Foley (Eddie Murphy), "You foul-mouth son of a...."
Axel says, "Foul-mouth? Fuck you!"

Ford had done South Carolin... (Below threshold)

Ford had done South Carolina's citizens a favor by offering incontrovertible proof that he is unqualified for office.

Of course, so did Obama. So, Ford has at least a 50/50 chance of actually being elected Governor in 2010.

If this passes, what will t... (Below threshold)
sharinlite Author Profile Page:

If this passes, what will the Uberlefties (BDDer's) do? The way they are used to "talking", they'll have to go mute!! Oh my!!

The reason there is so much... (Below threshold)
Jim Addison:

The reason there is so much stupidity in public office is that it doesn't extract the penalties assessed in the private sector. Stupid elected officials don't lose their jobs, their businesses, and their future prospects. Therefore a natural flow of stupidity to the public sector is created, and Robert Ford can flow with the best.

Some years ago Senator Ford faced a white Republican opponent in his reelection campaign. The opponent published a flyer comparing the candidates' positions which included photos of both. Ford's photo, reproduced in black and white, came out rather dark - with his dark skin against a dark background.

Naturally, he accused his opponent of racism.

An early supporter of Hillary in the most recent Presidential cycle, he publicly worried that Obama's candidacy would hurt black people. One of his longtime backers described Obama as a "Halfrican-American," and was not rebuked.

From outrageous comments to regular eruptions of buffoonery, Ford has been a constant source of entertainment in South Carolina. As a friend of mine, a local black preacher, remarked to me after one of Ford's dumb pronouncements, "I never finished high school, but I feel embarrassed for the man. It's no sin to be ignorant, but you don't have to advertise."

Ford ought not receive a Knucklehead of the Day Award, though. It should be reserved for amateurs only.

Will they set up the automa... (Below threshold)
Sheik Yur Bouty:

Will they set up the automatic ticketing kiosks like they had in Demolition Man??






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