I never want to see anyone’s right to free speech or free expression infringed, especially by the government. At the same time, I find my moral values of decency, honor, and respect to be violated whenever anyone flagrantly abuses that right. This is the case with Fort Bend County resident Karen Fonseca and her infamous white pickup truck with the vulgar “F— Trump” window sticker.
I don’t know Fonseca and to the best of my knowledge have never met her or her husband Mike Fonseca. Nor have I seen their truck in anything other than photographs. Those photographs, however, are hard to miss, especially on social media.
I have an extremely low tolerance of vulgarities (swear words, cuss words or whatever you want to call them), which is ironic because as a youngster I had quite the potty mouth. Obviously I have outgrown that and have learned to tame my tongue.
I find that people who will not or cannot communicate without swearing are generally people lacking in self-control and/or have inept communication skills. I do not think more of those who cuss but less – a lot less. This is especially the case when the vulgarity is printed in such a way that the message is one-directional. In Fonseca’s case, she is boldly displaying her message to the world around her without receiving immediate response in return.
A few weeks ago she received a response. Numerous people complained to the sheriff’s office about it and Sheriff Troy Nehls took action. He posted a submitted photo of the offending truck on his Facebook page asking if anyone knew the owner.
“If you know who owns this truck or it is yours, I would like to discuss it with you,” he wrote. “Our Prosecutor has informed us she would accept Disorderly Conduct charges regarding it, but I feel we could come to an agreement regarding a modification.”
The sheriff’s post ignited a firestorm of protest about the sheriff attempting to violate Fonseca’s right to free speech (which I believe he was). Shortly after she was identified to the sheriff, Fonseca was arrested on an outstanding felony warrant in an unrelated case. Her supporters continued to cry foul, saying she never would have been arrested if it were not for the sticker.
(It’s my thought that if you have a warrant out for your arrest, the last thing you’d want to do is attract attention to yourself. That and with a warrant she would have eventually been arrested anyway. All this did was expedite the process.)
The giant window decal that started this mess reads “Yeah … F— Trump and F— you for voting for him.” It included the drawing of an upraised middle finger. Although the discussion Nehls wanted did not appear to take place, Fonseca did make a modification. Next to her first sticker she put a smaller identical one that exchanged Trump’s name with Troy Nehls.
There were many who speculated that the only reason Nehls went after Fonseca was to create some publicity for a potential run for Congress. Not only did Nehls deny that, he opted not to run. In the meantime, Fonseca has been trading on her 15 minutes of fame (or infamy) by selling stickers and shirts with her vulgar, profane message of hate. She is the one who is capitalizing on the incident and has been enjoying the status of an Internet celebrity.
All kinds of people have been cheering her on and posing for photos with her and the truck, including State Rep. Ron Reynolds. She has become a poster child for free speech. Fonseca has given voice to those who are tired of living under the perception of an oppressive police state.
While it’s hard to argue that, in my book she is a villain. She has taken so much of what is wrong in this world today and flaunted it as if it were something glorious to behold. It’s disgusting and disheartening.
Set aside the free speech issue for a moment and look at what she has accomplished. She has further eroded levels of decency. She encourages the use of profanity, which benefits no one and just stirs negative passions in people. She encourages disrespect for authority. She is aiding significantly to the moral decline in society. She is further dividing a country that is in desperate need of unity. She is driving a wedge between citizens and law enforcement, vilifying police at a time when there needs to be more communication with and compassion for our uniformed protectors.
Lost in all of this is any reason for her dislike of President Trump. Her real message is not being delivered, or is it? Maybe her message isn’t so much targeted at Trump as it is at all of her neighbors who voted for him and even those of us who didn’t vote for him but must still be subjected to her vulgar message of hate.
Let’s be clear, her message is one of hate and disrespect. Personally, I can’t stand for that. So that is why I find this column so hard to write. I should be cheering her for championing free speech, but my moral compass won’t allow me to do that when the message is so vile and repulsive. I can only hope and pray that she will someday see the error of her ways and find a positive message that will help solve problems, not cause them.