Telling someone to “stop squishing the fucking bread” will get you handcuffed, tossed into the back of a police car and arrested for disorderly conduct in North Augusta, South Carolina, as one unfortunate woman discovered last Sunday.
According to an incident report filed by North Augusta police, Danielle Wolf was shopping at a local Kroger when another shopper claims that Wolf told her children to lay off the “fucking bread.” Wolf denies that she was speaking to her children, and told a local news outlet that she was speaking to her husband instead. For the crime of using a naughty word while she was upset, Wolf was “handcuffed behind the back with the handcuffs being double locked” and taken in the “rear caged area” of a police car be processed after her arrest.
Under a local city ordinance, a person commits “disorderly conduct” when they “[u]tter, while in a state of anger, in the presence of another, any bawdy, lewd or obscene words or epithets.”
Wolf’s arrest is unconstitutional, however. In the 1971 case Cohen v. California, the Supreme Court reversed the conviction of a California man arrested for wearing a jacket bearing the words “Fuck the Draft” in a courthouse. “Surely,” the Court explained, “the State has no right to cleanse public debate to the point where it is grammatically palatable to the most squeamish among us. Yet no readily ascertainable general principle exists for stopping short of that result were we to affirm the judgment below.”
Wolf was arrested for using the exact same word that was at issue in Cohen. Her arrest is a fairly clear violation of the First Amendment.