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Legislators With Too Much Time on Their Hands:

The Tampa Tribune reports:

The state Senate this week opened discussions on ... replica bull testicles dangling from the back bumpers of vehicles. One senator wants the owners of such swaying baubles to be subject to a $60 fine.

Sen. Carey Baker, R-Eustis, sparked the discussion in the august senate chambers this week. Senators tried not to get too graphic, as a bunch of school children watched from the gallery....

Sen. Victor Crist, a Republican whose district covers part of Hillsborough and Pasco counties, was flabbergasted that the discussion took place at all.

"It was a waste of time," he said this morning. "We have better things to do than sit down and listen to a debate on whether or not someone should be allowed to hang an ornament on their trailer hitch or not.

"To me," he said, "It's a First Amendment right of personal expression as long as it's not rude, crude or lewd, and it has not been proven to be that." ...

The vehicle accessory has spawned a couple of very successful Internet mail order businesses. Your Nutz, a California company, boasts colors including sun-kissed sienna, dark forest green and even electric blue lighted sets that cast an eerie glow....

"Every time this happens," [David Ham, founder and owner of Your Nutz] said, talking of moves to ban the product, "it drives my sales through the roof. I can't thank this lawmaker enough. I'm considering contributing to these guys who are coming up with these bills." ...

"Florida is not the first state to do this," [BullsBalls owner John Saller] said. Virginia and New Jersey legislators have tried similar sanctions, and so far all attempts to reel in the replicas have failed, he said.

Oh, and let's praise the Internet for this: "All that is thanks to the Internet, [Ham] said. 'If it wasn't for the Internet,' he said, 'I wouldn't have started this business, and there would not be a testicle industry.'" Another way technology makes the world better.

Thanks to Brian Smith for the pointer.

Tareeq (www):
I nominate North Carolina representative Sue Myrick, who has served her constituents twice this week, by calling for Jimmy Carter's passport to be revoked, and by taking up valuable House debate time on a resolution honoring Ric Flair for his service to professional wrestling.
4.18.2008 3:24pm
Joe Kowalski (mail):
Since when is this type of bull#%$! news? "Legislature wastes time on pointless crap! News At 11."
4.18.2008 3:25pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
I thought of this more as part of our humor section than our news section.
4.18.2008 3:29pm
Tareeq (www):
Take it easy Joe. It's Eugene's blog. You and I are just passing through on our way to other destinations.
4.18.2008 3:31pm
J. F. Thomas (mail):
Reminds me of in the early '90s when Georgia tried to ban "Shit Happens" bumper stickers. They actually charged a guy with obscenity for displaying the bumper sticker. After he won his case on First Amendment grounds, you can guess what his statement to the press was.
4.18.2008 3:38pm
Pub Editor:
Sadly, I predict that not one member of the Florida senate will be defeated in a reelection campaign on account of trying to push this measure.
4.18.2008 3:39pm
hattio1:
Here's a more important question. Are they actually "swaying baubles?" All the ones I've seen have been made out of metal and thus don't sway at all. If they do sway, what are they made out of?
4.18.2008 3:45pm
hawkins:
VA tried this several months ago. This story includes a picture - http://www.wtkr.com/global/story.asp?s=7625589
4.18.2008 4:01pm
bittern (mail):
Here's the test, per V. Crist:
"as long as it's not rude, crude or lewd, and it has not been proven to be that"

Might or might not also be lewd, but it is rude and it is crude. Two cheers (rah!) for judicious ignoring of Constitutional tests.
4.18.2008 4:02pm
Guest2:
I don't think we should ban this kind of thing, in fact, I think it serves a public good by giving warning to others that the driver of the vehicle in question is a moron who likely has some insecurity issues. Banning these things would make just as much sense as banning sportscars for insecure guys with small penises!
4.18.2008 4:20pm
AntonK (mail):
I find that most people who hang replica bulls testicles from their trailer hitche are bitter rural people clinging to their guns and religion. Oh, and they hate immigrants as well. And I almost forgot, they are also frustrated.
4.18.2008 4:31pm
lurker-999 (mail):
Sorry guys, but I have to take the opposing viewpoint on this one. It is beyond my comprehension that the First Amendment was really intended to allow people to display this kind of filth and vulgarity in front of other people's children.

I'm totally OK with the idea that consenting adults ought to be allowed to do whatever the Hell they want to in private or in adults-only venues, but every time I pass one of these SOB's on the highway, I have to fight back the urge to run him off into the gutter where he belongs. (The same goes for cars with posters of people urinating.)

If this kind of thing is really constitutionally protected, then we are way overdue for a constitutional convention to bring some common sense back into government.
4.18.2008 4:33pm
Rubber Goose (mail):

Lurker-999:Sorry guys, but I have to take the opposing viewpoint on this one. It is beyond my comprehension that the First Amendment was really intended to allow people to display this kind of filth and vulgarity in front of other people's children.


Well, lurker, whatever you do, don't ever bring your kids to a farm, or the zoo, or get them a (male) dog...
4.18.2008 4:40pm
Ira Kaplan (mail):
In addition to wasting time and being paid for this time by the taxpayers,we dicover that these public servants have no sense of humor.Maybe we ought to substitute politicians for bulls.
4.18.2008 4:40pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):
lurker-999,

I think you need a reality check. Do you really think that it will do children the slightest harm to see bulls' testicles, real or fake? Why? In fact, virtually any child who grows up on a ranch or farm or in a family with a dog or has friends who have a dog knows what testicles look like. Psychiatrists are curiously mum on the havoc that this has caused. If anything, making a big deal about genitalia is more likely to give kids a complex.

AntonK,

Real rural people don't hang fake bulls' testicles from their trailer hitches. They fry real bulls' testicles and eat them.
4.18.2008 4:43pm
EH (mail):
"There go those clowns in Congress again. What a bunch of clowns."
4.18.2008 4:48pm
Jaime non-Lawyer:
Turning the owners of these things into the butt of jokes is probably the best way to deal with it. I think there is a market for stickers depicting festering sores that can be pasted to these "swaying baubles" in the dead of night while the owner is unaware.
4.18.2008 4:52pm
Oren:
I would like to see a legitimate test to determine whether a particular dangly hitch decoration falls under the law or doesn't. It's quite a large phase space.
4.18.2008 4:52pm
harsh pencil (mail):
I'm with lurker, although I don't expect to get much agreement from this crowd where a good number of commenters and a regular poster believe the government has no right to keep two people from having sex out in the open on a sidewalk. But I guess you could give the same argument for that one. "Gosh, every farm kid sees animals having sex, so why can't all children see people having sex on the street?"

It seems to me you either go full steam libertarian where absolutely nothing is ruled too crude or offensive to put on your car and the rest of us just have to get used to our kids seeing porn or whatever on people's bumpers, or you agree that some standards exist, and then, to paraphrase the old joke, were just arguing over price.

In the end, however, this is more a symptom than a cause of anything bad. In the past you didn't NEED a law telling people not to put fake testicles on their cars. People naturally either understood why not to do it, or they understood that they would get enough informal social punishments to make it not worth it. Sad.
4.18.2008 5:00pm
AntonK (mail):
"They fry real bulls' testicles and eat them."


Ah yes, Prairie Oysters
4.18.2008 5:00pm
Don't really want to know:
Q: What makes them bull testicles? Do bull testicles have some kind of distinguishing characteristic?
4.18.2008 5:03pm
Northeastern2L:

If this kind of thing is really constitutionally protected, then we are way overdue for a constitutional convention to bring some common sense back into government.

Yeah, good luck with that.

Then you can follow it up with another Constitutional convention and come up with a whole bunch of amendments-- one to regulate TV content, one to regulate video games, one to outlaw "swearing," and maybe an all-purpose amendment to outlaw anything that offends your delicate sensibilities. Oh, my mistake, the delicate sensibilities of "the children."
4.18.2008 5:05pm
rarango (mail):

The town of Rock Creek Montana hosts the annual Rock Creek Testicle Festival. The Billboard on I 90 highlights the festival with the tag line: "Stop in and have a ball." Description here
4.18.2008 5:08pm
DCP:
You would be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of federalism or advocate of state's rights than me. That being said, these state legislators seem to frequently go out of their way to make me question the wisdom of this political philosophy.

I remember an epic battle in the ol' state capitol over who had claims to the meat from a roadkill, the driver or the property owner upon which the carcass remains landed.
4.18.2008 5:16pm
JBL:
I don't particularly like those fake testicles, but if I were to get some I would also want the corresponding hood ornament.

It would certainly add something to the legislative debate.
4.18.2008 5:41pm
PC:
I have to agree with lurker here. There's a great dane in the neighborhood that has offensively large testes. BAN GREAT DANES!
4.18.2008 5:42pm
Cornellian (mail):
I can't believe this many comments have gone by without someone saying

"Will someone pleeeeease think of the children???"
4.18.2008 5:45pm
anonthu:
They fry real bulls' testicles and eat them.

No, real rural people use them to produce a revenue stream.
4.18.2008 5:47pm
Smokey:
Now that the Floriduh Senate has successfully repaired all the pot holes in the state, they should discuss the fact that this fad was started by people putting a couple of tennis balls in an old piece of panty hose.

They need to close the loophole that would allow the defense, "What bull testicles, officer? That's just where I store my old tennis balls."
4.18.2008 6:08pm
PersonFromPorlock:
I think maybe the VC commentariat is showing a little too much refinement. Has everybody here really missed the point that this is classic American dry humor? It's a way of saying "Yeah, sometimes we get a little carried away with our trucks."
4.18.2008 6:20pm
houston_engineer:
Funny, it seems that the same people that claim their (valid) First Amendment constitutional right to denounce gays as evil, immoral, etc. are the same ones that claim for a Constitutional Amendment to restrict other people's right to decorate their cars with whatever things they deem cool.

Guys either we all have First Amendment rights, and we can express what we want, or none of us have. You have to choose. Ours is not a cafeteria Constitution
4.18.2008 7:00pm
hattio1:
Houston_engineer;
While I'm not someone who would use my constitutional right to denounce gays as evil, I know a lot of people who would who have no problem whatsoever with these testicles. In short, there are a lot of conservatives who are consistent, even if I disagree with them on a most issues.
4.18.2008 7:17pm
Florida is a copy cat:
Florida is late to the party.

A Virginia legislator introduced the same legislation a few months ago.

It didn't pass, though it did get a lot of publicity.
4.18.2008 9:50pm
anym_avey (mail):
So if truck owners can display faux bull testicles from their trailer hitches, can SUVs owners display faux cow udders below theirs?
4.18.2008 9:53pm
Javert:
"Every time this happens," [David Ham, founder and owner of Your Nutz] said, talking of moves to ban the product, "it drives my sales through the roof."

Just like in the Dark Ages. Every time the Church issued a list of banned books, those were the most in demand.
4.18.2008 9:53pm
Cornellian (mail):
You would be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of federalism or advocate of state's rights than me. That being said, these state legislators seem to frequently go out of their way to make me question the wisdom of this political philosophy.

My thoughts exactly, including the fan of federalism part.
4.18.2008 10:34pm
Mark H.:
I think I'd find it a lot easier to explain balls dangling from a trailer hitch to my kids (if I still had any at a tender age) than to go into an in depth sexual education discussion about what a "4 hour erection" is and what it would be used for prior to becoming a medical problem requiring a doctors visit. Yet I see ads like that dozens upon dozens of times a day on all channels.

Yet the:


Senators tried not to get too graphic, as a bunch of school children watched from the gallery....


... indeed.
4.18.2008 10:37pm
Bill Poser (mail) (www):

What makes them bull testicles? Do bull testicles have some kind of distinguishing characteristic?


Cows don't have testicles.
4.18.2008 10:40pm
crimelord (mail):
A restaurant in San Diego, California (Kansas City Barbeque) used to serve rocky mountain oysters. You could also buy a t-shirt that said "I had a ball at the Kansas City Barbeque". Great place.
4.19.2008 11:26am
Daniel Chapman (mail):
"Funny, it seems that the same people that claim their (valid) First Amendment constitutional right to denounce gays as evil, immoral, etc. are the same ones that claim for a Constitutional Amendment to restrict other people's right to decorate their cars with whatever things they deem cool."

Not that I'm denouncing either, but one is "speech" and the other is a set of rubber testicles. I think it's possible to come up with a reasonable interpretation of the First Amendment that bans one and not the other.
4.19.2008 12:05pm
EPluribusMoney (mail):
Speaking of testicles, don't you think if there was a god he'd put them somewhere safer? The pelvis would be safe, or better yet the chest, or the safest place of all, the skull. Most guys think with them anyway. I know it's temperature thing to have them hanging outside, but if you're god you make the rules. put a molecular temperature controller in them.
4.19.2008 5:18pm
Brian G (mail) (www):

Lurker-999:Sorry guys, but I have to take the opposing viewpoint on this one. It is beyond my comprehension that the First Amendment was really intended to allow people to display this kind of filth and vulgarity in front of other people's children.


Under that standard, the First Amendment is meaningless. Using your logic, this blog should be censored or banned because of the filth associated with bull testes that is displayed here.

Keep the faith, though Lurker. If Obama or Clinton become President, you'll go right to the top of their Supreme Court list with that type of First Amendment thinking.
4.19.2008 10:50pm
markm (mail):
My first reaction: All the problems in FL must be solved.

Second thought: Thank God the lege is debating this instead of further messing up all the state's real problems.

;-)
4.20.2008 1:13am
markm (mail):
Brian: How about if McCain gets elected?
4.20.2008 1:14am
shawn-non-anonymous:
Houston-engineer:

Guys either we all have First Amendment rights, and we can express what we want, or none of us have. You have to choose. Ours is not a cafeteria Constitution


In the great State of Florida, you can create your own license plate design and use it as a fund raising tool for your cause (whatever that may be.) One of the restrictions is that the license plate cannot be "political". The plate is approved by the State legislature. I have one with a sea turtle on it and the extra fees I pay go to sea turtle conservation.

There was an attempt to create a "Celebrate Diversity" plate which failed the political test (it's apparently associated with gay rights) and was canned. However, "Choose Life", a bright yellow plate with an image of children drawn by crayon wasn't deemed political at all.

What amazes me is that the Nascar crowd that enjoys the swinging nuts on their trailer hitches are likely to vote for the folks making the stink in the Senate. Is this a case of conservative infighting?
4.21.2008 12:30pm