Friday, November 16, 2012
Mont. man challenges law banning offensive speech
The Montana Supreme Court could be left sorting out which profane words are OK to hurl at someone as it weighs the case of a man who argues a sexual slur he used against a public employee is constitutionally protected speech.
Randall Dugan of Belgrade used a sexual slur with a Gallatin County Victim Assistance Program worker during an October 2009 phone call, after the worker said she would not help him obtain a protection order against his children's mother, who was to be released from prison. He then hung up.
Dugan was convicted under the state's Privacy in Communications law, which prohibits the use of electronic communication to offend another person with obscene, lewd, or profane language.
Dugan's public defender Kristen Larson argued the state law is overly broad and violates free-speech rights in both the Montana and United States constitutions.
She argued that Dugan did not call with the intention to harass, but only used the slur after becoming exasperated with the call.