The provocative T-shirt issue? Kid’s stuff. If you like your public civility quandaries straight and not watered down by such matters as political speech, get ready for the Great Truck Nutz Controversy.
Truck Nutz (also known as “Bull Balls”) are a…decoration?… favored by people whose sense of humor runs to farts, loud burps and titty-twisters, whose favorite films are the “Jackass” series and Farrelly brothers movies, whose idea of the perfect woman is Kim Kardashian, and whose idea of a genius is Howard Stern. They are large, usually red, approximations of male testicles that are hung (well-hung, you would have to say) on the back of trucks. They say, “I’ve got a big, scary, motherfucking truck here!”
Or, if you prefer, “I am a moron.”
A South Carolina woman named Virginia Tice was given a $445 ticket for displaying Truck Nutz on her truck, and she’s going to trial to protest the ticket. Blogger Ellie Mystal of “Above the Law,” which brought the adornment to my attention and which I will never forgive for doing so, commented,
“So, for those playing along at home, South Carolina will defend to the death your right to display the Confederate Flag, the symbol of a regime committed to slavery and racial oppression, but plastic testicles is a bridge too far.”
Cute, but beside the point. The blogosphere, using the same sense of logic and proportion that characterized so many of the lawyers’ comments about the constitutional right to tease police dogs, are arguing over whether a law that punishes Truck Nutz is unconstitutional. It probably is. I couldn’t care less. [If you are interested in this First Amendment issue, you should check in here.] Let’s stipulate that there is no law that can be crafted making Truck Nutz illegal that some court wouldn’t find, probably correctly, too broad and an infringement of free speech. Thus hanging big plastic, swinging balls in a big red plastic scrotum on the back of your truck for all to see is an American right, like the freedom to worship as one chooses, the right to bear arms, and thousands of varieties of gross, inconsiderate, crass, stupid, rude and ugly behavior.
We can use the First Amendment, as so many thinkers, philosophers, patriots, activists, writers, journalists, and artists have and do, to enrich the culture and life of this country, or we can use it to make the nation coarser, cruder, and dumb. There is no honor or achievement in the latter. Truck Nutz are legal, but they are not civil, tasteful, polite or appropriate for public display, and as a consequence those who use the precious freedom of U.S. citizenship to force other users of the roadways to look at their poor excuse for wit are unethical. They, and that means you too, Virginia, are also inconsiderate jerks.
We can’t stop people from being jerks. All we can do is let them know what they are. Usually, they don’t care.
That’s what makes them jerks.