Should the government protect you from Eyman’s BS appearing in the voters pamphlet (Bubulum Stercus?)

by | Aug 31, 2017

I need your help.
I live in the small town of Mukilteo in Snohomish county. The mayor and city council have put a sales tax increase proposal on the ballot. I volunteered to write the opposition statement for the voters pamphlet. In the pro statement, they wrote that the need for the tax increase was “indisputable.”
In my rebuttal, I wrote: Politicians always say the need for higher taxes is “indisputable.” We call B.S. on that.
On Tuesday, I was contacted by the government.
The government thinks it’s BS for me to have called BS on this tax increase by using the term BS. The war-of-words has escalated. I called the ACLU and they thought it was BS for the government to say you can’t say BS. My attorney’s letter to the government threatens litigation over my BS.
Here’s how it started:
Tues, 2:41 PM:
GOVERNMENT: We’re in the process of proofing the pro and con statements for the voters’ pamphlet and my supervisor felt that the term “B.S.” that you used in your rebuttal statement was considered profanity and needed to be reviewed by the Auditor. The Auditor feels the language is inappropriate and would like you to choose different wording. Using the language “We call foul” would be acceptable, but you may prefer something else. Please respond with revised wording within 24 hours of this email.
Tues, 4:00 PM:
EYMAN: Where is the statute that prohibits profanity in the argument? And it is not profanity but that’s another argument for another day. Send me a link to the statute prohibiting profanity in the voters pamphlet.
Tues, 4:26 PM:
GOVERNMENT: The statute doesn’t address profanity. However, if you refer to section 2-K of the Snohomish County Local Voters’ Pamphlet Administrative Rules, you will see that the County Auditor’s Office may reject a statement if it is deemed inappropriate.
Tues, 4:49 PM:
EYMAN: “B.S.” was specifically used in that location in order to put emphasis on the sentence: Politicians always say the need for higher taxes is “indisputable.” Following that with “We call B.S. on that” is like putting an exclamation point after it. I googled B.S. and the dictionary definition makes it clear that it is slang and at most it is classified as vulgar: It is defined other places as “nonsense, lies, or exaggeration.” Let me add: I think that it is extremely dangerous for the government to be limiting speech, especially political speech. Again, it is intended to draw attention to the point being made. If you force me to dilute the message, then you are engaging in a dangerous, precedent-setting slippery slope of deciding what may be said or expressed and what may not. I do not want to change it. Let me know how you plan to proceed.
Tues, 6:22 PM:
EYMAN: Examples from the News: “But they are probably more intellectually honest — more willing to call their own team for BS — than most political commentators.” Matt Lewis, Wanted: Less Terrible Political Coverage on TV
Wed, 8:23 AM:
GOVERNMENT: Thank you for your feedback. We will let you know how we’d like to proceed.
Wed, 2:40 PM — letter from attorney Stephen Pidgeon to the government:
I am in receipt of the email exchange between you and my client Tim Eyman. I have reviewed the relevant documents and attachments and am very familiar with this type of dispute.
I would first draw your attention to this federal case called Cohen v California:
In this case and many others, the government sought to prohibit speech that it found inappropriate or offensive. However, political speech is exactly the speech protected under the First Amendment and must be given great breadth and latitude.
Regarding my client’s use of the initials BS, an inexplicit colloquialism, such a term contains no vulgarity on its face and is broadly accepted as challenging the veracity of a statement. While the pious may construe the inference of these two alphabetic avatars as meaning something crude, my client may very well have been referencing an ancient Latin phrase “Bubulum Stercus” which no average voter would ever find inappropriate.
I am fully aware of the tight deadlines necessary for the printing of the voters pamphlet and so it would be unfortunate if litigation were necessary to protect my client’s First Amendment rights. Please keep me informed on how you plan to proceed on this important matter.
Stephen Pidgeon, Attorney at Law
Wed afternoon:
GOVERNMENT: disregard “2:41 deadline” … will get back to you in the coming days.
I need your help to get my BS into the voters pamphlet.
I ask you to send a quick email to the County Auditor and other government officials.
It’s real easy.
First, cut and paste these email addresses into the To line of the email:
Second, cut and paste this into the Subject line:
Don’t take Eyman’s BS out of the voters pamphlet
Third and last, for the body of the email, cut and paste this or send something like this (use your own words, tell ’em how you feel):
This is total BS. You mean to tell me that the government gets to fill the voters pamphlet with as many tax proposals as it wants but citizens can’t call BS on that? Gimmee a break! What Tim Eyman wrote is G-rated compared to how I feel about the endless tax increases politicians keep heaping on me. Stop censoring the citizens. Don’t muzzle the masses. Remember, it is the VOTERS pamphlet. It belongs to us, not you. Let us express our opposition to tax increases with passion and verve and let the voters decide. We’re all above 18 years of age — we’re not snowflakes. Seriously, don’t you have more serious things to concern yourselves with? Don’t take Eyman’s BS out of the voters pamphlet — it offends no one except the tax-hungry politicians.
Your email to these officials WILL DEFINITELY HELP. So please RIGHT NOW, send it to ’em and let ’em know how you feel about Eyman’s BS 🙂
There’s no reason this stuff can’t be fun.