The right to be stupid

In New York, a councilwoman wants to ban the use of "ho" and "the 'b' word."


In Forsyth, Ga., Monroe County commissioners have been asked to outlaw sagging pants.

Come again? Speech codes and dress codes - on public streets?

Which is more frightening: such silly attacks on freedom, or the fact that in 2007, some Americans think it's OK to use the government to tell their neighbors how to dress and talk?

Look, we don't like the words in question any more than anyone else. And we gladly stood and applauded as they lowered the casket into the ground recently for the "n" word.

But such things are matters of social construct, debate and agreement - not of government coercion.

Let's not bring the beginnings of sharia law to these shores, please.

New York councilwoman Darlene Mealy says the resolution is merely symbolic; she admits it is unenforceable. We agree.

But we don't think even a "symbolic" resolution prohibiting the utterance of certain words is at all a healthy thing. Symbols have inestimable power. We don't need to be sending the message, symbolically or otherwise, that the government has the first thing to say about what words we use.

As slippery slopes go, that's Mt. Everest.

Nor do we disagree with former military and law enforcement man Julius Stroud of Forsyth when he laments the tacky underwear spilling over youths' sagging pants.

We just don't think the government should try to legislate away everything that bugs the heck out of us.

And it's a stretch to call the sagging pants "indecent exposure" as Stroud wants Monroe County to do.

Nor can the government protect people from themselves.

"They go to apply for a job, nobody's going to hire them dressed like that," Stroud said.

Perhaps not. But that's their problem. Last time we checked, you still have the right to be, and look, stupid - at least outside Tehran.

We don't mean to use illegal language, and we certainly don't mean this as a fashion statement - but government, butt out!



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