from the and-a-happy-screw-you dept
Well, if you answered "craft my Christmas lights into a giant middle finger pointed at my neighbors house", then give yourself a pat on the back because a court recently ruled that doing so didn't violate any laws and is protected free speech.
A district court judge rule this week that a Louisiana woman could hang her Christmas lights in the shape of a middle finger, as a nasty holiday “greeting” to her neighbors. Police initially threatened to arrest Sarah Childs for her illuminated display, but with the help of the ACLU, Child won her suit against the city.
That Mediaite summary is slightly exaggerated, because she didn't quite "win" the lawsuit yet. The judge just granted a temporary restraining order prohibiting police from stopping the display, with a full hearing to take place in the New Year. However, the judge does say it's likely that she's going to win:
The Court finds that Defendants' continued efforts to prevent Plaintiff from displaying her holiday lights will result in an infringement of Plaintiff's rights of free speech and due process, and that the Plaintiff has demonstrated a likelihood of succeeding in her argument that this infringement is impermissable under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the Constitution.Yes, this woman, who is my new personal hero, actually took this case to court because she really wanted to flip off her neighbors in the most festive manner possible. The story goes mostly as you'd expect. Childs put the lights up, was threatened with arrest, took them down...and then decided that arrest was worth it so she put up the giant glowing "bird" once more. The police showed up again, this time threatening to arrest Childs for violating the Denham Springs obscentity statute, which is a pretty ballsy threat considering the city doesn't even have an obscentity statute. That's where this gets really fun.
After she contacted the local ACLU for help with a lawsuit, the city officers issued her two unrelated tickets that attorneys call a “collateral attack”: one for obstructing the flow of traffic as she was walking down the street and another for disturbing the peace while singing a song about her fight with neighbors in her driveway.An entire song about her fight with her neighbors, and she decided to sing it to them? My lord, if I were single I'd hunt this wonderful woman down so that we could spend a lovely weekend together cursing at nuns or something. In any case, the court ruled in her favor on free speech and due process violations, pending a full hearing in January, well after the holiday season.