By Grant McGee
While most of us are going about our daily business here in Clovis, legal battle lines have been drawn over an area resident and the stickers on his car.
On one side is a man who indicates he is asserting his First Amendment right of free speech. On the other side it’s our local law-and-order team, apparently acting to define the boundaries of decency in our community.
The guy with the stickers even has help from the American Civil Liberties Union. The national media has already taken an interest.
I’ve had stickers on my car. None of them were impish cartoon characters, just simple messages ranging from “Question Authority” to “Kill Your TV.”
About 20 years ago, at a rowdy time in my life, I festooned my Volvo with stickers I thought were fun but others thought a bit ribald. One sticker used double entendre to equate surfing with huggin’ and kissin’ (that’s not what it said, that’s the super clean interpretation for a family newspaper). It was this sticker for which I was chastised.
The Volvo needed repair so I took it in to the local guy who worked on them. A couple of days later it was ready, but I had to work. I asked my cousin to pick it up.
“The car’s in the back, up against the fence. I didn’t want my other customers to see it,” the repair guy said as he handed her the keys. “Tell your cousin next time he wants work done by me he needs to have those stickers off his car.”
I was incensed. I was outraged. It was my cousin who turned my head around.
“What do you have those stickers on your car for anyway? They look really stupid,” she said. “And it’s a Volvo. You don’t slather the back of a Volvo with stickers.”
I took them off.
I don’t know what I’d do if cited for something I had on my car. The closest incident I can relate to where I might’ve taken a stand came during a Border Patrol roadblock a few years ago (I think the nearest one to Clovis is a few hours to the southwest near White Sands). The Border Patrol guy asked to look in my backpack. As a testosterone-fueled young man I might have said, “no.” But I’m a bit older, wiser and have more bills to pay. I handed it to him.
He rummaged around, handed it back to me and I was on my way.
Telling my friends the tale, they expressed outrage and ranted about my “gutless” behavior.
“If it had been me, I would have refused,” said one.
“You should have made them get a search warrant,” said another.
“Look,” I said, “I had nothing to hide and I don’t have time to mess with the federal government or going to court. I’ve got to work.”
“That’s what they’re counting on,” said the first one.
“If there were more guys like you around in 1776 we’d still be British,” said the other.
Oooh, that one hurt.
All questions of decency and impinging on First Amendment rights aside, here’s to you guys on the front lines of this Clovis sticker thing. Now it’s up to the courts.
I’m glad it ain’t me. I’ve got bills to pay and I’ve got to work.
Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at: firstname.lastname@example.org