Dwayne Cole—the mayor of Munford, Tennessee—has said that a city resident flying a profanity-laced flag against President Joe Biden can continue to display it.
“F*ck Biden and f*ck you for voting for him,” says the flag, which waves outside of an unnamed man’s house. The dark blue flag with white lettering resembles flags flown in support of former President Donald Trump during the 2016 and 2020 elections.
“It’s vile. It’s vulgar. It’s protected speech under the Constitution,” Cole told WREG. He said that several residents had written the city to complain about the flag’s profanity and its visibility to local children. “If I had the authority to make him take it down, I would definitely do that,” Cole added.
Cole said city attorneys looked into the legality of flying flags with profanity on them. While laws regulate the display of campaign signs in people’s yards, the Constitutional right to free speech allows people to display whatever flags they like in front of their own homes, he said.
Tennessee is just one of at least five different states that have had recent disputes involving anti-Biden flags bearing profanity.
In March, a Jackson, Michigan resident began flying the same flag. While some courts rule dislike adults exposing kids to profanity, the non-sexual context of the f-word upon the flag may keep judges from interpreting the message as obscene, Northern Kentucky University law professor Ken Katkin told The Washington Examiner.
In Erie, Pennsylvania, a man named Jim Greenawalt flew the same flag from his own front porch and was allowed to keep it up due to freedom of speech, YourErie.com reported. Both Greenawalt and the Munford man have no plans of removing their flags.
A lawyer told the aforementioned website that Greenawalt’s flag is legal as long as it doesn’t impede municipal functions or incite violence through hate speech.
Hazlet, New Jersey resident Anthony Ragusa has two anti-Biden flags. One says “F*ck Joe Biden” and the other says “Biden Sucks.” On June 17, the township’s code enforcement agency told him to remove the flags because their “offensive language” had a “high visibility to school-age children and motorists.”
The township threatened to take further action if Ragusa didn’t remove the flags within 10 days. He removed the flag with profanity on it, for the sake of local children. However, he said he is prepared to go to court if the government tries to make him remove his second flag.
In early June, the city of Roselle Park, New Jersey threatened to fine a woman with a “F*ck Biden” flag $500 a day if she didn’t remove the flag. The woman lived a block away from an elementary school, the town’s mayor Joe Signorello said.
“All we’re asking is for her to comply and take those down,” Signorello said. “She can put up all the pro-Trump signs she wants as long they’re not sexual and vulgar in nature.”
Newsweek contacted the American Civil Liberties Union for comment.