Free Speech – Or Just Odd?

A local district justice was charged with … what was it?… oh, yea, disorderly conduct, for passing out nuts in public. Nuts, you say? Well, yes, nuts. Acorns to be exact. The seed of the mighty oak. So what’s wrong with passing out nuts? Well, as it turns out, these particular oak seeds had been hollowed out, and the contents replaced with condoms.  How that was accomplished isn’t clear, but the good Judge provoked the ire of some typical Central Pennsylvania blue hair who complained, and he was promptly cited for disorderly conduct.

This story naturally gave rise to all sorts of corny jokes (sorry), most of which can be viewed in the comments to the article. One commenter opined that judges do not have freedom of speech once they’re on the bench (despite the fact that this judge handed out these acorns, not from the bench, but in a public place – the state Capitol complex).

I don’t see how this could possibly pass legal muster. It may affect his position as a judge (it’s an elective position) but it certainly doesn’t rise to the level of a crime, albeit as minor as disorderly conduct. What if he simply handed out condoms? Or if he handed out condoms stuffed with acorns? What if his intention was to make a statement about safe sex, or perhaps deciduous timber reproduction? Or maybe it was just a weird way to make a comment about ACORN? Even if it was a joke, he’s within his rights to joke in public.

Of course, it didn’t help the judge that his office is located in Intercourse, PA.

8 thoughts on “Free Speech – Or Just Odd?

  1. Free is free, be it odd or not. The issue, though, is what makes it disorderly conduct? Is a permit required for distribution of anything in public there in Intercourse?

    • Someone posted the disorderly conduct statute in the comments. Here’s what it proscribes:

      (1) engages in fighting or threatening, or in violent or tumultuous behavior;
      (2) makes unreasonable noise;
      (3) uses obscene language, or makes an obscene gesture; or
      (4) creates a hazardous or physically offensive condition by any act which serves no legitimate purpose of the actor.

      I don’t see any of that applying. If it does, then so does a “God Hates Fags” poster.

    • Oh, and if he needed a permit and didn’t have one (which I doubt), he still shouldn’t be cited for disorderly conduct, he should be cited for not having a permit.

  2. All these boundless freedoms in America!

    As long as you obtained the proper permits, consulted with authorities and got their approval, paid the required fees, have a ball with your freedom. Oh, and as long as no one’s wittle feewings are ruffled…

    But, a Mgeaterial Justice here in the REAL central Pencil Yucky said that the law was up to the cop at the moment.

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