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If we ban tackiness, where will it stop?

It might have been funny to watch lawmakers seriously consider a ban on a tacky novelty that hangs off a car bumper, to see us once again fight for the title of Silliest State in the Nation, if there wasn't so much actual work to be done in Tallahassee.

In the midst of soaring gas prices, the housing crisis, bloody budget cuts and fears about the economy comes the charge against TruckNutz — one of the more printable names for chrome or assorted-color replicas of what look to be a bull's, well, testicles.

Maybe you've seen them swinging from the trailer hitch or rearview mirror of a pickup truck flying by on the highway.

Trust me, you would remember.

Absolutely, they're tacky. Absolutely, some people are offended.

But to those who worry about how to explain this to their kids — all I can say is, you don't want to bring your kids over to my neighborhood dog park.

This week, your state Senate passed a larger bill that in part would make it a moving violation to sport a pair of the swinging things on your car.

So why would anyone want a set of these — at a cost of $15 to $39.99 depending on your preference for plastic or chrome, and easily affixed with fishing line or a shoelace, according to one Web site — on their car anyway?

Interestingly, I've never seen a set on a Volkswagen bug or a mini-Cooper, nor on a car with a woman behind the wheel, though no doubt they're out there. (Since women still earn less than their male counterparts, maybe there's a market. Maybe that's what's missing.)

Okay, so we want to start banning tacky? In Florida?

Let's get going, then.

That saucy wench profiled on the mud flaps of every third semi passing by could cost a trucker a day in traffic court. Cartoon Calvin gets to go on the target of choice no more.

Also, we need to scrape off our bumper stickers, all of 'em, including that old screed about how the only way they'll get our gun away from us is to pry it from our cold dead hands.

Plus the one about how nice it would be if we had to fund war and not our schools through bake sales. Someone, somewhere, probably finds that offensive, too.

We need to paint every house beige and get rid of those lawn gnomes. (Or would they fall under the bill's Ironic Kitsch Exemption?)

Which is where the whole thing goes from silly to potentially dangerous.

"What comes next?" asks First Amendment lawyer Luke Lirot. And, "I would be happy to take that case."

When the news broke, some people were outraged by the fact that legislators were wasting breath even talking about the offense of a car displaying "an image or device of reproductive glands."

This stirred subsequent and lively debate on the First Amendment.

It was suggested, more than once, that some legislators might want to go out and purchase themselves a pair.

"Ridiculous. Outlandish. A joke," wrote a reader on the Times' Web site.

"That's just great," said another, who wondered if this became law how he was supposed to identify "ignorant rednecks" with, um, certain insecurity issues.

You say offensive, I say funny.

Which is exactly the point.

If we ban tackiness, where will it stop? 04/24/08 [Last modified: Sunday, April 27, 2008 12:16pm]
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