So, yeah. By publishing this article, I’m releasing more about my personal life than I ever planned to release to The Ceej fans. The mystery was just so appealing and everything, but I guess the work is more important than the image, so here goes.
First off, the copy published by the Planet can be found here. Bottom right of page 19. Let me know if that link breaks after the next issue comes out so I can adjust it to the archive version. And, now, the undredacted version.
Does The First Amendment Mean Anything?
The first amendment of the United States Constitution. What is it? It’s supposed to prohibit the federal government from passing or enforcing laws against speech and the press, among other things. The fourteenth amendment is supposed to extend these prohibitions to the states and municipalities. In practice, it’s more useful as toilet paper. Excuse me. Didn’t they change the name of that to bathroom tissue?
Last September, I was one of the unlucky victims of first amendment violation. When it happens, most people just pay the fine to prevent rocking the boat. Fuck that. I tipped that boat over and got in a fight with a metaphorical shark. Agree with my statement or not, agree with me politically or not, like me as a person or not, this is an issue far bigger than that. This citation threatened the very fabric of the United States Constitution (which is already threatened by its yellowing age). But, every story has a beginning, and this isn’t Pulp Fiction, so let’s start there.
Remember back when gas prices hit $4 a gallon? No, not four weeks ago. The first time. While most people continued to drive and just bitched about the prices, my response was to ride a bike with a novelty tag that said, “Fuck OPEC.” This tag stayed on the bike for three years to protest the gas prices. I figured, hey, if protesting funerals is covered under the first amendment, this should be too, right?
Not according to Officer D. Batey of the Huntsville City Police Department (Badge number 73938). He was personally offended by the semantics I used to make my political statement, much like a child would be. He said said it was obscenity as defined by the majority. I said American Idol was a good television show as defined by the majority, but that doesn’t make it true. While I cited the first amendment of the United States Constitution, he showed me on his law Kindle where it said that obscenity was illegal, in all its vague terminology. I imagine he used a Kindle because he couldn’t read and needed a device to read it to him. He’s probably a police officer because he didn’t have the intellectual capacity required to flip burgers. “Can’t handle a spatula? Here’s a gun!”
The good news is that it was so obvious I was right that I got pro-bono representation. But having a lawyer for this case is like trying to kill a fly with a nuclear bomb. It’s just overkill. Judge Rodenhauser at the municipal court found me guilty, but then he finds everybody guilty. That’s not a court. That’s a guilty verdict machine. And that’s not even the sad part. The sad part is everybody knows it and does nothing. Of course, now that makes both Batey and Rodenhauser guilty of first amendment violations.
Of course I was going to appeal. Did you think I was going to accept a guilty verdict? Nine months later, I get a call from my lawyer and he says the prosecutor wants to cut a deal. He’ll dismiss the case if I pay the court costs. My lawyer didn’t even have to advise me not to take that deal. He and I both knew that he was going to dismiss it anyway. He just wanted to milk a little money out of me first.
So, the prosecutor called the case “un-prosecutable,” and dismissed it. If I could describe that assessment in one word, it would be, “DUH!!” Yes, it would have the redundant punctuation.
So, after all the bureaucratic tape was cut through, which took about a week, I got my appeal bond back. They held onto $350 for nine months. Shouldn’t I have gotten interest on that loan? Oh, right. The terms were decided by extortion rather than contract. The real criminals here are… Well, hell, you know. The question now is, as a people, are we going to stand for this? Hell, no! We’re going to sit. After all, have you tried to check your Facebook from a standing position?
In conclusion, thank you Officer Batey and Judge Rodenhauser for succeeding where I myself have failed so many times. It’s just so bad that wasn’t your intention all along.