A county sheriff’s Facebook post, placed on his personal page, spawned a social media firestorm after he threatened a truck owner with charges for disorderly conduct over a sticker in the back window of the vehicle. The message, which is profane, potentially offensive and fully spelled out on the decal, reads, “F**K TRUMP AND F**K YOU FOR VOTING FOR HIM.”
As reported by the Houston Chronicle, Fort Bend County Sheriff Troy Nehls posted a message on his Facebook page, which has since been taken down, that featured a picture of the truck and expressed interest in the owner being identified. The license plate of the vehicle is not visible in the image, preventing it from being used for the purposes of locating the owner.
“If you know who owns this truck or it is yours, I would like to discuss it with you,” said Nehls in the post. “Our Prosecutor has informed us she would accept Disorderly Conduct charges regarding it, but I feel we would come to an agreement regarding a modification.”
Karen Fonseca came forward, saying the truck belongs to her husband but that she often drives the vehicle. She states that the sticker was made after Trump was sworn into office.
“It’s not to cause hate or animosity,” said Fonseca. “It’s just our freedom of speech, and we’re exercising it.”
Nehls, who is considering a congressional bid as a Republican candidate, stated in his post that he has “received numerous calls regarding the offensive display on this truck as it is often seen along FM 359.”
The ACLU responded to Nehls’ message, saying, “Constitutional Law 101: You can’t ban speech just because it has ‘f@ck’ in it.” The continued by extending an invitation to the owner of the vehicle, which read, “Hey truck owner, feel free to contact the ACLU of Texas.”
Other Facebook users chimed in, with some questioning whether the sticker should be considered a violation of the law and if Nehls’ actions were an attempt to hinder free speech.
The Fort Bend Sheriff’s Office did release a statement regarding Nehls’ post, which said, “The Sheriff made the post on his Personal page. The objective of the post was to find the owner/driver of the truck and have a conversation with them in order to prevent a potential altercation between the truck driver and those offended by the message.”
It continued, “Since the owner of the truck has been identified, the Sheriff took down the post. Due to the hate messages he has been receiving towards his wife and children, the Sheriff will not be commenting on the matter further.”
Laws regarding displays, such as the sticker, vary across the country. As reported by the Washington Post, in Texas, the penal code defines disorderly conduct as “intentionally or knowingly [using] abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place, and the language by its very utterance tends to incite an immediate breach of peace.”
However, the ACLU has referenced a 1971 Supreme Court decision, to establish precedence, where a disturbing the peace conviction was overturned. In the incident, the man was charged based on wearing a jacket that said, “F**k the Draft,” to a courthouse in Los Angeles.