South Carolina To Try Citizen For Nutsy Display

Submitted by Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

Bonneau is a quiet little town in the “Low Country” of South Carolina.   Boasting plenty of southern charm, it covers about 2.9 square miles and sports 354 residents. Not much going on except good red beans and rice and some pleasantly hot summer boat rides on Lake Moultrie. Pretty Mayberry-esque except  it’s also the epicenter for  a debate on South Carolina’s obscenity laws which prohibit motorists from  displaying bumper stickers, decals, or devices depicting “sexual acts, excretory functions, or parts of the human body in an offensive way as determined by contemporary community standards.”

In early July, Bonneau Police Chief Franco Fuda spotted an unusual item adorning the trailer hitch of  65 year-old Virginia Tice’s pickup truck. Tice has a quirky sense of humor and thought it sassy to display a red plastic set of human testicles for her fellow motorists to enjoy. The items sell under the brand names of  “Bulls Balls” and “Truck Nutz” and are apparently standard fare in convenience stores of the “Palmetto State.”

Ms. Tice was ticketed with the charge which carries the possibility of a $445 fine but no jail time. The case outraged other residents of the Bonneau.”To me it’s just a personal expression,” John Caddell told the local paper. “My truck’s got power.” For her part, the grandmotherly Tice is embarrassed and not taking calls.

Sheriff Fuda has spoken to Tice’s lawyer, Scott Bischoff, Esq., of the Savage & Savage law firm that took the case on pro bono.  In a remarkable display of small town enlightenment and faith in the jury system, the Sheriff asked for a jury to decide the propriety of the novelty. “The statute says obscenity should be determined by community standards,” Fuda said. “I didn’t think it was fair for a judge to decide that.”

Bischoff was equally sanguine if a little amused. “She’s such a sweet lady and she just says ‘I don’t want to pay the fine.’ We’ll let a jury decide whether this is really criminal behaviour. I don’t want to take away from the importance of free speech, but it’s really comical,” he said.

A little of what’s best about small towns–genial folks doing their jobs and the right thing without promise of financial reward. Believing in the system and the good sense of their neighbors to effect justice, all without the savage rhetoric and moralizing that has become the staple of our public discourse. Maybe that “little town” on the Potomac could learn a lesson from Bonneau.

Source: Charleston Post &  Courier

~Mark Esposito, Guest Blogger

48 thoughts on “South Carolina To Try Citizen For Nutsy Display

  1. While I am not a big fan of displays such as this one or the little boy pissing on other truck brands, but I thought we had some freedom of speech left. Maybe not. Kudo’s to the sheriff for doing the right thing getting the jury involved.

  2. I’m glad Ms. Tice is taking the words of General Anthony McAuliffe to heart and responding to her demand for surrender of her free speech rights by saying “Nuts!”. In addition, that Sheriff Fuda wants a jury trial to resolve the issue speaks well of him. It’s nice to see a LEO put rights in front of considerations of revenue generation.

  3. It is a good thing bad taste is not illegal in most places. Virtually all of us would be in trouble with the law at one time or another. Especially after a few beers.

    I always thought those things were in horrible taste. Additionally, I really do not care for those little propellers and other stuff you can hang on trailer hitches. But to each his own. I hope she wins her case.

  4. Police Chief Franco F. Fuda finds himself in a most difficult situation, politically. He’s trying to find a way out because he wants to keep his job. I’m not impressed.

  5. Blouise:

    The easiest thing for him to do was bring the summons before a judge with the predictable result of a conviction and fine. That he honored the wording of the statute rather than setting out to just “get his man woman” tells me he’s a reasonable guy. That he didn’t chime in with a moralizing opinion about the matter –one way or the other-tells me he respects the system to make that decision. If it benefits him politically, so what? Must one be as Caesar’s wife to merit any sort of credit whatsoever? Must one perform to one’s detriment in every instance to be deemed credible?

  6. Making laws defining “community standards” of bad taste is usually an easy hypocritical display. On “I Love Lucy” the couldn’t say Lucy was pregnant, but had to use euphemisms. If humans need euphemisms for pregnancy due to community standards I think it is time to pack it all in. A word can only be in bad taste if you know what it means and if you know what it means then it can’t be in bad taste.

  7. “That he didn’t chime in with a moralizing opinion about the matter –one way or the other-tells me he respects the system to make that decision. “(mespo)

    “Genitalia is offensive,” says Chief Fuda. “As a law enforcement officer, I’ll advise that person if it warrants a citation I’ll issue a citation. As a father, I wouldn’t want my daughter looking at it.” (http://www.live5news.com/story/15154990/sc-woman-gets-jury-trial-for-display)

    Sounds rather moralizing to me … but, hey … to each his own

  8. “Genitalia is offensive,” says Chief Fuda. “As a law enforcement officer, I’ll advise that person if it warrants a citation I’ll issue a citation. As a father, I wouldn’t want my daughter looking at it.”

    ***************

    I’d say that’s more prudent than prudish.

  9. Which is neither here nor there as I was answering your assertion that he didn’t “chime in” with a moralizing opinion …

  10. I just wish people were a little more respectful of the world around them. I’m not comfortable with criminal charges but ti pisses me off to go places – the State Fair, community events, the local grocery store, movies you name it – and see people with T-shirts, hats etc with obscene messages or graphic depictions of genitalia or sex acts on them.

    It is certainly something children don’t need to see. But you can’t legislate common sense or basic decency.

  11. Blouise:

    I don’t think he was moralizing. I think he was saying he has an obligation to enforce the statute as written and if it would be offensive to some folks due to wanting to protect their kids from seeing it. I’d consider that to be probable cause to believe a violation had occurred. I’d conclude moralizing if he made some attack on Ms. Tice or her morals or her beliefs. The easiest thing for him to do — and the safest politically — was to drive on by.

    I’m with Frank on this one. I find no justification to be deliberately provocative to folks and their kids who’ve done nothing to you. While you may have right to vulgarfree speech, you are not exempt from criticism or ridicule, and, if its obscene, from criminal prosecution. I do not agree that you can’t legisilate basic decency. We do it all the time.

  12. mespo,

    He gave her a ticket for after all, “Genitalia is offensive,” and ” I wouldn’t want my daughter looking at it.” Can’t unring that bell.

    Those kind of quotes weren’t given the next day to Reuters. Then it was “This is certainly not a staple of my ticket writing in Bonneau,” the police chief told Reuters on Wednesday.(http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/07/27/us-crime-testicles-idUSTRE76Q6BR20110727) and “I didn’t think it was fair for a judge to decide that.”(re jury trial)

    Now I’d say he’s being prudent.

    “I find no justification to be deliberately provocative to folks and their kids who’ve done nothing to you. While you may have right to vulgarfree speech, you are not exempt from criticism or ridicule, and, if its obscene, from criminal prosecution. I do not agree that you can’t legisilate basic decency. We do it all the time.”(mespo)

    Since I wasn’t arguing that point, I have no counter.

  13. Blouise:

    Do you not think it morally neutral to point out that exaggerated depictions of human gentalia is offensive to some people — maybe even most people? I think it’s a statement of manifest fact. We all agree the right to swing your arm ends at my nose, but what about the right to display graphic and provocative sexuality. I have no problem drawing the line there at the threshold of the displayer’s door.

  14. South Carolina needs to be renamed from the” Palmetto State” to the “ignorant white trash, bottom of the gene pool state.”

  15. Teachable moment maybe? ‘Stop that giggling, things like that just mark people as having no common courtesy or sense, they are dim-bulbs and should be ignored, normal people don’t need THAT kind of attention.’

  16. mespo,

    How to taint the jury pool? Police pontificate everyday and it usually sounds just that good. Remember your original assertion? “That he didn’t chime in with a moralizing opinion about the matter –one way or the other-tells me he respects the system to make that decision.” Well, he did chime in and it was one way, not the other.

    Now, Tex is back in the hospital and I must leave for visiting hours so I won’t be responding anymore … didn’t want you to think I’d given up.

  17. There’s no difference between this and walking around with a pair of plastic testicles hanging out of your pants, which you can sure bet you’d be arrested for. There are some things that are not acceptable to reasonable people in public, and here we’ve outlawed them for that reason. Not sure whether it’s county or state law here in Tampa, but whichever, it’s good riddance. No child should have to be exposed to this kind of idiocy.

  18. The sheriff has but put in jail now for contempt of court. Seems he forgot to pay $75,000 in child support.

  19. @Kenergy599
    >>renamed…to the “ignorant white trash, bottom of the gene pool state.”

    That’s what we in NC already think of SC. It’s been that way for decades.

    ===========
    What surprises me most about the case is that a grand jury could pass this through to trial. It seems like a clear first amendment issue, with the local ordinance in clear violation/conflict with the constitution.

    However, this trial *might* be a way to get the local ordinance thrown out, so the local LEOs won’t have to pay any attention to it. The grand jury might have been given subtle hints that would result in a trial.

  20. lotta,

    Thanks for the good wishes. It was a reaction to meds which only required a couple of days stay … coming home today. Didn’t require any flashing lights :)

  21. Blouise,

    I didn’t know… Be well…. both of you. I trust that the Sunday meal discussion will go forward, as planned, and will be an interesting one, I’m sure.

  22. anon nurse,

    They are preparing their papers and emailing … the dinner is on the 21st of August … lot of research being done on the topic … Mike sparked something in them :)

  23. mespo,

    To another day … but fair warning … I don’t like censorship laws of any kind mainly because the laws are usually vague leaving the interpretation up to people like Chief Fuda when trying to decide whether or not to issue a citation.

    Perhaps we would enjoy that debate assuming you do approve of certain censorship laws.

  24. Blouise,

    My heart goes out to you and Tex. I know how hard being in a hospital is, I wish him the best and the patience to stand the ministrations. I know how good you both will feel when he is home again.

  25. Personally, I would hang a nice bouncy set of titties on the back of mine. If some idiot can hang a set of testicles on the back of his truck, I can hang some perky titties on mine.

    In reality though, there should be standards, and a general responsibility for drivers to not disply such crap on their cars for the public to see. If I had a daughter in the car behind someone with one of these, I would kindly take them off and put them inside their vehicle.

    “If you don’t want to see human genitalia, don’t look down ……”

    Doesn’t work that way. It’s like saying if you don’t like pee in a pool, stand over there in the corner of the pool.

  26. the problem i find with some of these posts is that YOU find it offensive and you wouldnt want your son /daughter to see it. so then i take it you also dont allow your child to have animals WHO ARE NOT FORCED TO WEAR CLOTHES AND THEREFORE THEIR GENITALIA IS FLYING ALL OVER THE PLACE. because of todays society and its all thanks to certain world bankers that nothing is private anymore. if your child is old enough to know the difference then its time to have that talk with them. and if they aren’t then what exactly is the issue? i get the feeling most of you would prefer not to ever have to explain to your children about that part of life. and thats is exactly how and why kids pick up what they can from their friends which is always the wrong information. i know you would prefer if your kids didnt act on certain feelings until they get married but we all know thats b.s. and even though there are instances of it happening. id rather be safe then sorry. especially since thanks to all these so called new meds and what not kids today are growing up much faster then kids of yesterday

  27. Mike S.,

    Thank you … from my granddaughter’s open heart surgery to Tex’s heart meds … we keep on keeping on.

  28. Blouise,

    As you know heart problems are near and dear to my own. I know from here your intelligence, strength and good insight. Men like myself and perhaps Tex is one, tend not to be the best patients and need a loving woman to play a key role in their health. My wife kept me alive and I have every confidence you’ll be the one to keep him going.

  29. i don’t like being harassed the chief dick head fuda he harasses people and if any of you have been in traffic court with chief fuda you will know you have no right to a jury and you are guilty until proven innocent and he will trump up charges in order to make more money for the town which they are embezaling from the state. I find it funny the mayor is married to the clerk of court and treasurer and the chief is married to the mayors daughter like the perfect crime family they are in business for themselves . they only serve themselves to your money and protect their bank roll.

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