Decorating your home with lights is a holiday tradition. In fact, you and your neighbors may engage in a festive rivalry over who can show the most holiday spirit with Christmas decorations. But what happens when those Christmas lights give you the middle finger salute?
In Denham Springs, Louisiana, Sarah Childs didn't exactly have the Christmas spirit. She decorated her home with lights. But those lights were in the shape of a middle finger aimed directly at her neighbors with whom she was having a dispute, reports the Associated Press.
To no surprise, her neighbors complained and the police got involved. Eventually, the courts also stepped in and ruled for Childs, finding that the lights were OK.
Having a single hand wave the middle finger at them, Childs' neighbors called the cops and the cops threatened to arrest Childs. Childs reportedly removed the lights, but re-erected them a short time later. This time there were not one, but two hands giving the middle finger to her neighbors.
Police ordered that Childs remove the lights again, saying they violated Denham Springs' obscenity statutes. Unfortunately, the city doesn't have any such laws, reports the AP.
As a result, a U.S. District Court judge ruled in favor of Childs and said that the city could not interfere with her display. The judge said that the city's efforts to prevent Childs from giving the finger to her neighbors violated her rights to free speech and due process.
So is the lesson for neighbors involved in neighborly disputes to make their attacks via Christmas lights? Well, that may depend on where you live. While Denham Springs police may have overreached by trying to enforce a nonexistent law, other jurisdictions may indeed have obscenity statutes on the books.
And in certain circumstances, these statutes may restrict someone's free speech rights or at the least, someone's right to give the middle finger to another through Christmas lights.