Thursday, July 28, 2011

South Carolina Jury Trial to Decide if "Truck Nuts" are "Obscene"

I was not aware we had a law about this. So, I learned something today. Much more below the jump. Yes, you can have a picture; safe for work. (Or is it?)
Here's the text of the law:

SECTION 56-5-3885. Unlawful to display obscene bumper sticker.
(A) No person may operate a motor vehicle in this State which has affixed or attached to any part of the motor vehicle which is visible to members of the public not occupying the vehicle any sticker, decal, emblem, or other device containing obscene or indecent words, photographs, or depictions.
(B) Obscene words, photographs, or depictions must be defined and interpreted as provided in Section 16-15-305(B), (C), (D), and (E).
(C) A sticker, decal, emblem, or device is indecent when:

(1) taken as a whole, it describes, in a patently offensive way, as determined by contemporary community standards, sexual acts, excretory functions, or parts of the human body; and
(2) taken as a whole, it lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.

(D) A person who violates the provisions of subsection (A) is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be punished by a fine not exceeding two hundred dollars. 

So, the State is prosecuting a Beaufort County woman for this: (Example only, not the actual vehicle)
Notice in the P&C article that the police chief is the one asking for a jury trial because he didn't think "the judge should decide what is obscene". This leads me to believe that the Judge looked at this case and said something to the effect of: Really? This is what we are doing today?

Fine. Mr. War Against Truck Nuts can have a jury trial over this. Good luck with a Beaufort jury on that one, bro. Something tells me that Beaufort folks aren't coming back with a guilty verdict on this one. The take here at PP: not my cup of tea, but not obscene. You know what's obscene? Wasting the Court's time on something stupid like this. Go fight some crime, and stop being the tacky patrol.
Legal analysis at Volokh here.

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