Charlotte, NC — Freedom of speech, in the land of the free, is not guaranteed. Despite the wording of the First Amendment, claiming that “Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech,” there are countless laws across the country designed to do exactly that. However, even when there aren’t archaic anti-speech laws on the books, police will all too often deprive people of their freedom — for practicing their freedom. As the video below shows, a man name PJ Briggs has become the latest victim of cops who don’t like to hear certain words.
According to Briggs and his friends, he was asked to leave a local Walmart because he was riding his hover board inside. As the video shows, Briggs complied with the store’s wishes and left.
However, as he is walking through the parking lot, two officers begin harassing him. Briggs is filming the incident which appears to upset the male officer. When Briggs tells the officer that he has no criminal record, the cop becomes infuriated and grabs the otherwise innocent man by his shirt.
As Briggs had seemingly not committed any crime, the officer grabbing him by the shirt was entirely uncalled for and he likely knew this. It appears that the officers wanted to detain Briggs to find out his identity, and Briggs complies but asks the cop to stop assaulting him by pulling on his shirt.
The officer complies with Briggs’ request. However, Briggs then chooses to use the word, “motherf**ker” to express his discontent with the officer grabbing him and harassing him. This enraged the officer, who then moved in to assault and kidnap Briggs.
“Get off my shirt. Motherf**ker,” said Briggs.
“What did you say?” barks back the officer.
“What? I said motherf**ker. That’s freedom of speech,” Briggs said.
As the video shows, the male cop then attacks Briggs as the female jumps in to assist. For saying “motherf**ker,” Briggs is assaulted by two officers, thrown to the pavement, handcuffed and arrested.
The Free Thought Project reached out to Briggs to get the entire story and to figure out which department this was so we can contact them as well. However, we have yet to receive a response. We will update this story as those details come in.
Below is a video showing what freedom of speech looks like in America.
In the land of the free, a person can be kidnapped and thrown in a cage for arbitrary sounds made with their mouth that cause harm to no one.
Aside from this being clearly asinine, it’s well-established by the Supreme Court to be unconstitutional.
In Cohen v. California, the U.S. Supreme court upheld a citizen’s First Amendment right to wear a jacket to court that read “Fuck the Draft,” the court held:
“For, while the particular four-letter word being litigated here is perhaps more distasteful than most others of its genre, it is nevertheless often true that one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric. Indeed, we think it is largely because governmental officials cannot make principled distinctions in this area that the Constitution leaves matters of taste and style so largely to the individual.”
What’s more, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in City of Houston v. Hill, that police must tolerate even more abusive speech than an average citizen. The court concluded that “in the face of verbal challenges to police action, officers and municipalities must respond with restraint,” and added that, “the First Amendment protects a significant amount of verbal criticism and challenge directed at police officers.”
Here at the Free Thought Project, we feel there are no such things as ‘bad words’ but, rather, certain words some people don’t like to hear.
The arbitrary nature of government enforcing laws that dictate what vocabulary a person can use is as ridiculous as it is tyrannical. Sadly, it remains a part of society.
Telling people what words they can and can’t say to ‘protect’ others is chilling. Freedom of speech does not come with terms and conditions as words alone, less the obvious yelling “fire” in a movie theater, cannot cause physical harm.
Have we learned nothing from history?