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