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Louisiana Woman’s “Obscene” Christmas Light Sculpture Spurs First Amendment Dispute

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A woman in Louisiana has provisionally won a dispute with local authorities over her right to use her skills as a light sculptor to be really funny — or really juvenile, depending on whom you ask. For months, Baton Rouge resident Sarah Childs had been in a dispute with some of her neighbors, and eventually decided to voice her frustration with a Christmas light arrangement several feet high in the shape of a “doigt d’honneur.” When neighbors complained, Childs was told she would be arrested and fined if she didn’t take the arrangement down.

According to a suit filed on Childs’s behalf, several aggrieved neighbors spoke directly to the mayor of Denham Springs, the town just east of Baton Rouge where she lives. One officer allegedly told her that the arrangement was in violation of the city’s “obscenity statute,” even though no such statute exists. After taking them down, Childs recruited the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana for her defense, eventually publishing an open letter to the city and replacing the old arrangement with a new one, this time featuring two hands with their middle fingers extended instead of one.

Citing these, as well as an incident in which she allegedly disturbed the peace while singing a song about her neighborhood dispute from her driveway, the city issued Childs two more tickets. According to the Associated Press, U.S. District Judge James Brady has since intervened, issuing an order contending that the city’s “continued efforts” to prevent Childs from displaying the light arrangement were a violation of her First Amendment rights. The matter is expected to be settled for good at a hearing in Baton Rouge on January 7.

— Reid Singer

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  1. Damn southern police making it seem as if there are all kinds of laws when there aren’t. She should sue them for defamation of their uniform and call for their dismissal too. Damn the man!

  2. To much important to worry about other than that.
    Remember the WAR & Our VETERAN’S. The poor & homeless.
    DON’T SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF ! It doesn’t matter. God Bless AMERICA!

  3. Don’t this woman have anything better to do? Grow up lady. Some people out there have real issues that matter. You just have too much time on your hands.

  4. Really people? Who cares. If you don’t like it, don’t freaking look at it.

  5. It probably would have upset her more if everyone just ignored her. Merry Christmas

  6. Don’t the police have better things to do??? Stop harassing her and go catch some criminals.

  7. People (civilians, police, whatever) have a tendency to dwell on petty things like this because they don’t have the gonads to face up to REAL issues, such as the state of the nation, the state of the world, and their own personal responsibilities. This is nothing but escapism for them. *Watch the news and ask yourselves why things like this get media attention while the economy continues its slide into oblivion. The White House routinely uses everyday events as distractions from its inability to handle the economy, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the steadily worsening national weather picture. You can’t hide from Truth and Reality.

  8. Show me someone who hasn’t made that gesture and I’ll show u a bullshiter

  9. I thought it was cactus plant.

  10. Really that has people tripping,come on freedom of speach and gestures

  11. I think they should fight just as strongly for 2nd amendment rights. Taking peoples rights is not the answer, but putting her under observation based on the fear that she might shoot somebody is fully within the law. As is, a person who has problems with their neighbors should not lash out at them…please.

  12. In response to Lee Larson. I think this is part of their job. And in the course of doing what they need to, to keep the peace, they came across a unique situation, a woman squatting on her own lawn.

  13. Children can’t pray in school, but this is freedom of speech? Hypocrites one and all!

  14. Thought it was for palm readings. But now see her point. Xmas isn’t. What it used to be. It certainly isn’t what its suppose to be. But it is lmao funny that she gave it 2 up!

  15. by Hubert Cumberdale

    She’s just showing us her I.Q. That’s all. Somehow it went from one to two, so she’s making headway somehow. Give her some credit for doubling her I.Q.

  16. When one extends their middle finger, they are usually confronted, with a big bar fight to follow.

    The xmas lights lady must really have a lot to say, or she has the intellectual depth of a hamster.

  17. by peter schabert

    For out of the heart come evil thoughts,murder,..SLANDER. MATTHEW15:19

  18. @James Bird, its called seperation of church and state.

  19. by angrywhitemale

    She may have the right to display this, but she’s an idiot for doing so. Grow up.

  20. I love her tenacity, fire, and ambition – but I must agree, MOSTLY…we still should fight for the little things…But, yah, something a little more effective, food for homeless, saving environment..helping a, buut, as far as WAR comment..What war??? We saw, we went, we want to control the drugs and tech…There Is NO war…I wont send my son to die for that crap – AND if YOU are wondering – I am a TWELVE year THREE time idiot, whose family has been serving in “American Causes” for around 400 years…all I am saying is, keep it real… there are no wars-mostly- ONLY POLITICAL INTEREST.

  21. Ahhhh my home state, home to so many things not right. Ya’ll keep it classy chat!

  22. @James David: Children *can* pray in school. Do your research.

  23. Children can pray in school all they want. The school is not allowed to have the children pray or direct prayer. The children are also allowed to have prayer groups and religious groups in school. I have no idea what you are talking about James???!

  24. by Leslie L Jones

    Hey, it’s great to see the ole home town up in lights. Where the hell is Denham Springs anyway?? Let’s do something important–Let’s go fishing–. COYELL Bay or bust. Pronounce that one all you crazies out there.

    Les Jones

  25. the policeman should be suspended for misrepresenting the law.
    no law. no law broken.

    next year make a law.

  26. She can always claim it’s a cactus. in this case cocktus.

  27. This lady has every right to display this, hre neighbors have every right to complain. The mayor and police are in the wrong, for they have no right to harass this innocent lady, in fact they should be fired for enforcing non existinglaws. Welcome to the USSA

  28. This is great!, Louisiana has a very tyrannical state government (i should know i live here) and louisiana needs a reality check to what the constitution is about.

  29. lets see…santa claus is a myth, jesus christ is a myth, the south is still full of crackers. the bird is just perfect. i just love this story.

  30. This individuals name says it all.

  31. Funny that….The police should just declare it a “hazard” and a distraction for drivers.
    Situation solved. Next dilemma.

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