Protected language, but polite?

A hand-painted sign in a yard on 37th Street in Galveston has some neighbors upset because of the profanity.


GALVESTON — A hand-painted sign in a Galveston front yard that used a curse word to decry the Affordable Care Act led to at least one neighbor’s complaint, but the language is protected by the First Amendment and not in violation of city policy, an official said.

The sign, which has since been taken down, was posted in front of a home in the 1300 block of 37th Street.

It referred to a now infamous quote from President Barack Obama and read, “If you like your insurance, you can keep it,” before using a curse word “bull----” to cast doubt on that statement’s veracity. 

“First Amendment” was written in blue paint at the bottom of the sign.

Larry Konzelman, who lives near the home where the sign was posted, said he did not take issue with people using signs to express their views on their own property, but was concerned that children walking by may see the curse word. 

The home is within several blocks of Morgan Elementary School.

Konzelman said he called the city about the language on the sign.

“It’s not that people haven’t heard the word, but I don’t want children walking by to have to see that,” he said.

The sign has since been changed, and the new one does not use any inappropriate language to make its political point, Konzelman said.

Elizabeth Rogers, a spokeswoman for the city, said she was not aware of any complaints about the old sign.

First Amendment rights protect such expression, and there is no city ordinance prohibiting language posted on an individual’s private property, she said.

Contact reporter Alex Macon at 409-683-5241 or

(14) comments

Don Ciaccio

Yeah, children never hear the word BS. LOL. You've got to be kidd

Carlos Ponce

True,"children never hear the word BS". BS is rarely used by today's children. It's strictly old school. They do use the f-bomb like its part of their everyday vocabulary. Also the b-word and the word hoe but not in reference to a garden tool. In a previous GDN forum, sverige used the term "poppycock" which is the corrupted spelling of a Dutch term meaning "soft Sh _ _ ". True, children of church going, decent people will recognize BS as profanity but they are getting few and far between. Good reason to send your child to church school, private school, or home school. It won't stop them from hearing or using those words but at least they will know they are not to be used in public.

Don Ciaccio

Kidding me.


Have your heard the kids language while walking home?


I can guarantee that the kids at this school know all the language already. A friend of mine taught at this school 13 years ago and he said that this was first time a child told him F..U.. in a classroom setting. When he reported it to the principal at the time he was told that that was how those kids spoke. Nothing happened to the kid and my friend did his best to leave that campus, and eventually, the school district.
That is when you know the kids run the school. [sad]

Chris Gimenez

I bet Larry's an obamascare supporter.

Mike Meador

Hey Mr. Neighbor: I didn't know each neighborhood had a signage censor to call the city about B. S.
Instead of asking the neighbor about what you consider to be offensive, you make sure to make this nothing to-do-about.

Was it the "offensive language" you didn't like, or the politics of the statement?

Find something better to do to grind your ax about.

Lars Faltskog

That sign is inappropriate. I would support the removal of any sign in a residential neighborhood that exuded profanity, regardless of my agreement or disagreement of the message. There's a time and place for everything, and we're all intelligent enough to know what standard English should be used. Regarding children, I think we need to make every move to demonstrate to our children/teens that this kind of display is inappropriate and uncivil.

Put the sign in your backyard so the neighbors won't see it. Throw a party and invite all of your allies to the goal to disassemble "obamacare" and pray in front of the sign all you want - in the backyard.

If it were a sign with profanity (an innuendos thereof) of something that dishonors, let's say, some of these cowboy hat-wearing Tea Party candidates, I'd still support moving the sign. Again, there's a time and place.

Jim Forsythe

If it can’t be printed in the GDN, why would you want it out in public for all to see?

Carlos Ponce

A lot of people object to the Ocean Cabaret Billboard:
"Complaints were lodged with both state and county officials, but the sign is legal and can stay, officials said." The picture of the billboard showing scantily clad women was published in the GDN (February 11, 2014). As in all matters of "Freedom of the Press" it is up to the the editor.

Lars Faltskog

Response to carlosrponce posted at 9:09 pm on Sun, Mar 9, 2014:

Well, I see a difference between a public interstate side median/frontage and a residential area. In the side median/frontage, cars glimpsingly pass by, theoretically at 50-55 mph. A makeshift yard sign in a residential area can be seen by other residents for long periods of time, and/or indefinitely.

I'd rather bear with a few seconds of seeing cartoon tiddies than to spend a Sunday afternoon in my living room, looking out the window at my snapdragons, and also having to see my neighbor's tacky "BS" sign across the street. Sounds like they need to find a new hobby and cultivate a few flowers - beautify instead ghettofy.

Carlos Ponce

I was not referring to the actual billboard, sverige. I was referring to Bigjim's statement "If it can’t be printed in the GDN". The billboard was photographed and placed on page one of the Galveston Daily News February 11, 2014 for voyeurs to ogle ad infinitum, not just a "few seconds". Again, editor's prerogative under Freedom of the Press. If the GDN chose to print those words it would be a protected right but at the risk of losing some subscribers. Remember, you used the term "poppycock" from the Dutch dialect pappekak, literally, soft dung, same definition as BS but now accepted by the public as mild profanity. I didn't know you spoke Dutch.

J. Shaffer

You have a perfect First Amendment right to put a sign in your front yard, even if the political leaning isn't appreciated by your neighbors.

However, those who do not remember history are doomed to repeat it. I'm old. And I remember when, in 1989 when the state of Texas made a law that no bumper sticker can have profanity over one inch in height on it.

The bottom line? Political speech is protected, profanity is not.

Lars Faltskog

Response to carlosrponce posted at 8:58 am on Mon, Mar 10, 2014:

Well, an article in the paper that has the "BS" word via either print or in the signage is intended for conscious readers who know exactly that they are going to read a variety of news stories. And some of those news stories are considered "PG" by nature.

If I were to take my nephew for a drive to the dog park and we go by this house that has the tacky BS poster, I theoretically did not intend for my nephew to see that tacky sign. However, if I place a GCDN newspaper in front of my nephew, I assume that he will come across some non-G rated stories.

Moreover, since I were to live a mere few houses down from the tacky "BS" sign house, I would go back and forth in my neighborhood seeing that tacky sign. On the contrary, I probably drive on I-45 by the tiddie sign with my nephew much, much less than I drive by the tacky yard with the "BS" sign. And I am driving 50-55 MPH on the highway. In the residential street, we are probably going 10MPH.

In summation, I see a big difference. The world outside my neighborhood is likely to have profanity, "tagging" and so forth, and I cannot shield my innocent child from that. But, as a neighborhood residents who pay property taxes on our houses and as homeowners who pay for the upkeep of my house, we don't have to see a dumb tacky "BS" sign across the street. If people think it's acceptable to keep signs like that in front yards, then, yes, they are full of that "poppy" word you allude that I allude to. Or, we can call it just plain poopy.

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