The state Senate passed legislation Saturday that would outlaw "patently obscene" bumper stickers on cars and trucks owned by Louisiana motorists.
The measure, sponsored by state state Rep. Bernard Carrier, a Democrat from Denham Springs, was approved by the Senate on a 28-8 vote and sent back to the House for con-currence.Opponents of the bill argued during a 20-minute debate that the measure is unconstitutional and vague about what would be deemed unlawfully offensive.
Under the measure, the owner of a vehicle caught displaying a bumper sticker bearing "patently obscene" words, pictures or symbols would be subject to a $500 fine.
The bill is similar to one already passed in the Legislature and sponsored by by Rep. V.J. Bella, a Republican from Berwick. That measure lists six words considered obscene, and would require that if printed on a bumper sticker, they appear no bigger than 1/8 inch.
Sen. Ron Landry, a Democrat of LaPlace, rose in objection to the Carrier bill, saying it was unconstitutional.
"I've been working all morning on some of the possibly patently obscene bumper stickers," said Landry, clutching several homemade stickers. "I guess it's a state of mind as to what is obscene. This one says `Cajuns suck heads and pinch tails.' In my mind that means that we suck crawfish heads and pinch the tails of crawfish. You can interpret it any way you want."
Landry, who voted against a sales tax increase that will be in place for 11 months, then showed one related to the revenue-raising measure.
"Here's one, `It's only a tax for 11 months.' That might be considered obscene by some people," he said.
As the Senate roared with laughter, Landry then held up the symbol of the Republican Party.
"This is the symbol of the Republicans and the Republican Convention. I would assume a lot of Democrats would consider that obscene," he said. "Not to be one-sided, this is the symbol of the Democrats, and I guess most Republicans would consider that obscene."