It’s pretty hard to live in Los Angeles (or anywhere for that matter) and not know about local artist Coop. His work can be found everwhere. Well, it turns out if you live in Clovis, you might be better off not knowing about him. According to this Clovis News Journal story, Dean Young, a 31 year old Clovis resident was arrested and charged with distribution of sexually oriented materials to minors for having a Coop sticker on his car. Trust me, you aren’t the only one thinking this is nuttier than squirrel poop right now, the ACLU is even looking into it. From the story:
Officials at the ACLU said theyíve never seen the stickers ó one on each side of the car near the rear window, each about 4 by 6 inches wide ó but based on the police report said they doubt the stickers violate the law.
ìIíve never heard of anyone getting a ticket for a sticker on a car,î said Peter Simonson, executive director of the ACLU of New Mexico. ìUnless the stickers are directly and immediately inciting people to violence ó thatís the only way the Supreme Court has said that free speech can be somehow limited.î
When state prosecutor Chris Chandler first saw the case, he had concerns too.
Then he saw the images.
ìOnce you look at the picture it obviously depicts a sexual act. Thatís far beyond what is depicted on the mudflaps truckers have,î Chandler said.
The stickers depict one devil with its mouth around anotherís tail, which may suggest oral sex, according to the Dec. 12 police report.
Therefore, Chandler said Youngís images are in violation of the law.
Young said he bought the stickers at a former Clovis business almost three years ago. He said they are ìraunchy,î but not pornographic.
ìItís not like I cut a picture out of Hustler and put it on my car,î said Young, who still has the stickers on his car…
The red phone under the glass dome at Coop HQ has been ringing off the hook this morning and has prompted blog post after blog post. In fact, the official word from the ACLU from a phone call a few minutes ago was:
“We are actively looking into this matter and expect to have a special response as soon as possible. Our Director, Peter Simonson, is sick this week but this matter will receive his top priority attention as soon as he returns to the office.”
This is going to be interesting no matter how you slice it. But what’s really interesting is that this whole things seems to have spawned from a Detective on the Clovis Police Force trying to throw his weight around and Dean Young not buying it:
Chandler said the case came to light after the young son of Clovis police Detective Kirk Roberts saw the stickers. Roberts saw his son staring at the images during a family outing to an area restaurant, where Young works as a waiter, Chandler said.
Young said he would have removed the stickers if Roberts hadnít threatened to charge him with a felony. He said Roberts told him to remove the stickers, and came back to the restaurant two weeks later. When they werenít removed, police issued the citation to Young, who said Roberts is the first person to approach him with concerns over the stickers.
ìThe only reason Iím getting charged with this is because some overzealous, church-going detective got offended by it, and got even more offended by it by the fact that I didnít take it off after he threatened me,î Young said.
Roberts sees things differently.
ìHe apparently believes weíre violating his First Amendment rights … that right ends at my nose,î said Roberts, who said heís heard some complaints about the stickers. ìThe picture is pornographic, and he cannot tell me that he (believes) kids arenít going to see that when heís stopped at a light next to a car full of kids, or in a public parking lot. You line up 100 people and Iíd be surprised if 100 didnít tell you thatís pornographic.î