First, let’s state the obvious: Walking through a parking lot screaming obscenities and racial slurs is immoral, childish and stupid. It is not funny, and there is no legitimate reason to go out of your way to be offensive. With that said, the law against “ridicule” in Connecticut is obviously unconstitutional, and the men arrested for the “crime” of ridicule should be awarded an obscene amount of money by the courts.
The text of the law makes it illegal to hold up a class of people in specific protected categories to “ridicule” or contempt. Well, there goes any comedian who pokes fun at any group. If Eddie Murphy performed any part of his routine from the 1980’s mocking his own race, he would go to jail. Any pastor who warns against unbiblical practices of another denomination or even a cult could be subject to criminal penalties.
We have seen a great deal of battles over free speech in higher education, and that battle continues to be fought. But the “ridicule” law is exponentially worse than even the most draconian campus speech code because it attaches criminal penalties to free speech. It takes a lot to shock me these days, but I was stunned when I saw that these two men were actually arrested for shouting a racial slur.
There is no public policy basis for this law. These men were not harassing or targeting any specific person. They were walking through a parking lot behaving badly. I can certainly see why a black person hearing that would be upset, but that is not enough of a justification for throwing someone in jail and giving him a criminal record.
This is the kind of law you would see in North Korea, red China or Iran, not something you expect to see in these United States. If anyone should be behind bars, it should be the legislators who voted for this obviously illegal “law.” Hopefully, this injustice will not stand.