LETTER: County Fair was right to allow sale of offensive merchandise

To Ozaukee Press:

The writer of a letter to the editor published in last week’s Ozaukee Press bemoaned that somebody was allowed to sell “Joe and the Hoe Gotta Go” merchandise at the Ozaukee County Fair.  A friend of hers complained, but fair officials refused to remove or prohibit the merchandise, citing the right of free speech. The officials were absolutely correct.

In this country, our government can’t tell us what we can and can’t say, particularly when it comes to what we can and can’t say about the government itself.  That includes what’s expressed on T-shirts and bumper stickers, and it includes the right to sell such things to people who want to express themselves. We don’t allow government to enforce niceness or civility or any other code of conduct, because people in power can’t be trusted to decide what those words mean.

That goes for government buildings and events too. The Supreme Court famously upheld the right of someone to wear a jacket bearing an obscene referencce to the military draft in a courthouse (Cohen v. California). While the fair could ban all sales, once they open that up, they can’t discriminate based on the content of a message being sold.

Tom Kamenick

Port Washington


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

125 E. Main St.
Port Washington, WI 53074
(262) 284-3494


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