“Fuck your shitty town bitches,” wrote Willian Barboza, a 22-year-old Connecticut man, on the payment section of his $175 speeding ticket which he then mailed back to the Liberty NY town clerk’s office after crossing out the town’s name “Liberty” and substituting the word “Tyranny.”
This didn’t sit well with the ladies working in the clerk’s office. So they forwarded the document to a local judge complaining that the profanity upset and alarmed their delicate sensibilities. The judge in turn referred the matter to a prosecutor and ordered Barboza to appear in his court where was reprimanded and arrested for the “crime” of aggravated harassment. The accused criminal was handcuffed and taken away before his eventual release on $200 bail.
The charges were later dismissed.
Barboza sued the town and the prosecutor for damages claiming that he was treated as a criminal for a "few harmless words." "Instead of protecting freedom of speech, government officers in Liberty handcuffed me, arrested me for a crime and almost sent me to jail because I harmlessly expressed my frustration with a speeding ticket,"
Barboza's phrase was crude and offensive to some, observed the court, but "did not convey an imminent threat and was made in the context of complaining about government activity." "That the court clerks who received plaintiff's message were apparently alarmed by it does not alter the analysis," she concluded.
It’s about time that cops in the United States of America – the land of the free and home of the brave -- learn once and for all that it’s legal to complain about government activity and that profanity is protected speech.