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A bird in hand is worth two on the roof

Judge: Louisiana woman has right to display middle finger in holiday lights on home

NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana woman ran afoul of police when she gave her neighbors an unusual holiday greeting, hanging Christmas lights in the shape of a middle finger.

Sarah Childs was in a dispute with some of her neighbors in Denham Springs, just east of Baton Rouge, so she decided to send a message with her decorations. Neighbors complained and police threatened to arrest her, so she and the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana sued the city.

A judge ruled in her favor Thursday.

“I imagine it will be back up before too long,” ACLU of Louisiana executive director Marjorie Esman said of the display.

Childs erected the lights on her roof last month. She has removed them twice — once after a police officer told her she could be fined and again after another officer threatened to arrest her, her lawsuit said.

U.S. District Judge James Brady issued an order temporarily barring city officials from interfering with the display. The two-page order said the city’s “continued efforts” to prevent Childs from displaying her holiday lights will violate her rights to free speech and due process. He scheduled a Jan. 7 hearing in Baton Rouge.

Denham Springs attorney Paeton Burkett said the city will comply with Brady’s order, but she declined to comment on the lawsuit.

“We’re going to sit down with everybody involved and see if there’s any merit to it,” she said.

Mayor Jimmy Durbin and Police Chief Scott Jones, who are named as defendants, didn’t immediately respond to calls seeking comment.

The suit said the police department dispatched an officer to Childs’ home after several neighbors complained directly to the mayor. The officer told Childs she would be violating the city’s “obscenity statute” and could be fined if she didn’t take it down, according to the lawsuit. However, Denham Springs doesn’t have an obscenity statute, the suit said.

Childs removed the lights but put them back up after the ACLU defended her in an open letter to the city. That time, the display showed two hands with extended middle fingers.

After another round of complaints, the city responded with a “collateral attack,” issuing her two tickets, according to the suit. One accused her of obstructing the flow of traffic as she walked down the side of a street. Another ticket accused her of disturbing the peace while singing an impromptu song about her neighborhood dispute while standing in her driveway.

“Childs’ impromptu song allegedly contained some obscenities directed at her neighbors, so the city cited her for simple assault,” the suit said.

The ACLU would not say exactly what the neighborhood dispute was about, and a no one answered at a telephone listing for Childs.



I especially like the bit about telling her she was in violation of an obscenity statute which doesn't exist.  What would you do if she was your neighbor?

Answer Question

Asked by NotPanicking at 10:11 AM on Dec. 21, 2012 in Just for Fun

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • Laugh, I think it is funny. At least she wasn't resorting to violence to let her neighbors know how she felt.

    Answer by kmath at 10:24 AM on Dec. 21, 2012

  • I would use her as a tool to show my children how mentally unstable people act out in society. If I were alone, I might actually greet her the same way she greets the rest of the neighborhood. Okay, I wouldn't, but I would think about it often. LOL.


    Answer by QuinnMae at 10:26 AM on Dec. 21, 2012

  • Well living by her can't be any worse than living next door to the Griswold's with their hideous lights shining in my window. The lady seems a little nutty, but if she's harmless, who cares?

    Answer by anime_mom619 at 10:27 AM on Dec. 21, 2012

  • I would probably just give her a cold shoulder and no cookie.

    Here we have rage laws and one specific one involves the middle finger and a gesture.


    Answer by Dardenella at 11:03 AM on Dec. 21, 2012

  • LOL, I can see it happening. I remember the first time I saw that someone messed with those light up deer. They made it look like the deer had been shot with an arrow... complete with blood and all. I'd just laugh it off, but it's something I would never do.

    Answer by m-avi at 11:07 AM on Dec. 21, 2012

  • I remember the first time I saw that someone messed with those light up deer

    Someone decided it was mating season for the two at my mom's house one year. She was NOT pleased.

    Comment by NotPanicking (original poster) at 11:09 AM on Dec. 21, 2012

  • Now that is funny, though if I was your mom I too would not be best pleased lol

    Answer by Dardenella at 11:15 AM on Dec. 21, 2012

  • some people!


    Answer by charlotsomtimes at 12:00 PM on Dec. 21, 2012

  • The Supreme court ruled years ago that flipping the bird was a form of free speech.


    Answer by Natesmom507 at 1:39 PM on Dec. 21, 2012

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