back to article Truck nuts swing onto US freedom of speech agenda

The lower portions of the US are distracting themselves from the Washington debt-ceiling car crash by asking whether the use of "truck nuts" constitutes obscenity or is a question of free expression. The constitutional freedom issue has swung into the national consciousness after a South Carolina woman was ticketed for hanging …


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  1. nsld


    Whats the point of hanging a "turkeys throat" from the tow bar of your vehicle?

    Janet Jackson pops a nipple and America calls for the death penalty but if you live in a trailer park and you are your own mother, brother, uncle and son its ok to hang some man lumps from your towing hitch.

    Someone needs to take off and nuke that place from orbit, free speech is more than the right to hang plastic testicles on your car!

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

      The founding fathers didn't say anything about plastic testicles on cars!

      "Janet Jackson pops a nipple and America calls for the death penalty"

      Actually, that's not "America", that's the vocal minority of professional busybodies. They could donate testicles for this here slightly obnoxious use.

      "Free speech is more than the right to hang plastic testicles on your car"

      Sure but the two are not incompatible,

    2. tas

      "Balls of Steel" censored already!

      Funny you should mention Janet Jackson: in one of the linked articles, the metal, but not the plastic truck nuts, look like they've been intentionally censored ...

    3. LaeMing Silver badge


      Janet's nipple is a woman's bits, therefore a tool of Satan. Swinging testicles are just... manly.

    4. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge


      It's a good warning that there's a halfwit behind the wheel, enabling everyone else to avoid them.

    5. Rob Dobs

      More, but not exlusive

      Yes free speech is more than this, but it also should include this.

      I too feel this obscene, and cringe a bit when driving behind a half-wit with these strapped to his truck when my young daughter is in the car.

      But I still think this qualifies as free speech: for one many have made the valid point that even if you live in the city, nuts are on animals and we don't put diapers on them, to suggest so would make you look stupid.

      Put this way... we have the first amendment so that what is offensive to me isn't automatically illegal, and in this system, what I enjoy or find funny, that others find obscene is also protected.

      Plus there is any EASY WAY TO FIX THIS, as far as I am concerned cutting the suckers off with a box cutter is also protected as an act of free speech.

      A.) There is no better way to emasculate (literally) a red-neck than cutting the nuts off his truck.

      B.) Most Red-necks simply can't afford to keep replacing something that costs $20 or more.

      So quiet down, put a box cutter in your glove-box, and the next time you see someone dumb enough to leave their balls hanging out unprotected you give them a good reminder of why we keep these in our pants!!!!

      1. PsychicMonkey


        if I don't like the colour of your car can I take a spray can to it? maybe slash your tyres too?

        1. Rob Dobs


          If say I have a giant cock or twat or painted on the side of my car then yeah I would say that is open grounds for asking someone to paint your car.

          Now if you think the color green is comparable to a realistic pair of balls on display, then you sir have some perversions about color and fail to see difference... but then if that's the case then you are too far gone to educate

      2. Dorobuta
        Thumb Down

        destruction of property is not free speech

        The box cutter idea is a bad one, and if caught can put you on the wrong side of the law.

  2. EricF

    I don't think they metal ones are so bad

    but the plastic, realistic looking ones are obscene!

    1. peyton?


      Ironically, that's the only one not pixelated in the article linked to.

      I personally find all the varieties obscene. Not because they resemble genitalia, I'm just pretty much against anything that celebrates redneck culture.

      1. Steven Roper
        Thumb Down


        And I'm just as much against the kind of stuck-up elitist snobbery that people like you espouse. Let me tell you something. I've been friends with t-shirt-and-jeans-wearing rednecks (they call them "bogans" where I live) and I've been friends with shirt-and-tie-wearing yuppies in my time.

        Guess which friends were there when I needed them? Guess which friends helped me out when I was down on my luck? Guess which friends stabbed me in the back in order to get ahead? Guess which friends borrowed money off me and then either denied they owed it to me or just made endless excuses as to not being able to pay it back "yet"?

        In case you can't figure it out, the answers to questions 1 and 2 above are - bogans. And the answers to 3 and 4 are - yuppies (I don't know what else to call them, but with your attitude you strike me as being one.)

        When you get to know them, and don't look down your nose at them just because they don't have a string of university degrees and a six-figure salary, "rednecks/bogans/chavs" are often hard working, no-bullshit, and trustworthy friends to have.

        No doubt a lot of people here will disagree with me, probably because sites like El Reg aren't high on a bogan's reading list, but having been around and seeing your comment above, I felt compelled to put in a good word for them.

        1. Anonymous Coward

          I resemble that remark

          Pretty sure the movie 'Joe Dirt' featured a large number of my friends and relatives.

        2. peyton?

          Hi Steven


          I don't know what a bogan is, but I can tell you it takes far more than that to be a redneck. Go buy the cheapest beer you can find and proceed to chuck the cans out the window as you drive to meet up with friends and shoot the insulators off the electric lines (so what if you knock out power to others - you're drunk and bored!). Or cut ruts in someone's field on your ATV (problem for the farmer?? who cares - again, it's not your problem).

          From your description, perhaps a bogan means being of a rural provenance or of limited financial means? It takes more than that to be a redneck. (For the record, along with being from a rural area, I don't have a string of degrees, and am not making six-figures - but I heartily reject the label "redneck" that you would apparently apply to me. Such a label would also imply I have lost all aspirations to improve).

    2. LaeMing Silver badge

      Obscene? Doubtful.

      Stupid-looking, most certainly.

      But the supression of stupid, while on the surface may seem like a great idea, likely has deeper consequences that are not so great.

  3. Stan Smith
    Thumb Down

    They're trying to stick it to us!

    Anyone wanting to ban truck nuts is just a dick. The desire to ban "offensive" things like this is a growing problem, and just seems to keep coming up again and again. Even when it's proven that one can't just slip into a crack in the constitution and put whatever one wants in there, they still keep trying to jam it in. Really people need to just calm down and think about something distracting, like baseball. That will hold it off for a while and make the whole experience just that more pleasant.

    Good day.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      So where do you put the baseball

      Why do I get ideas of basealls attached to the same truck towbar as the nuts... Oh... That probaby an obscenity of a different kind...

  4. Pyros

    Wait, wait...

    So they're having trouble with these *now*? Geez, next thing you know we'll have to rebrand them as "funtional alternatives" for robots and ennuchi.

    I think I hear the Mazin-Bros coming...

    1. TimeMaster T
      Thumb Up


      You beat me to the link. Damn it!

      First thing I thought of when I read the article.

      Thumbs up for GINA!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      What next, will they ban neuticals?

      Little Fluffy can't be seen walking around with that obscenity dangling down - neutered ( or not.

      Put some shorts on your dog or we'll slap you with a fine!

  5. sisk Silver badge

    Obscene how?

    Personnally I hate the things, but I don't see how they're obscene. Seriously, they look more like bull balls than human ones. Are they gonna start making bulls wear pants? Or zoo animals? Because I gotta tell you my kids see pretty similar sights every time I take them to the zoo.

    Despite the fact that I see at least one truck sporting these things almost every day (not to mention the number of motorcycles around here that have them), that picture is the first pair I've seen that are flesh colored. Flesh colored ones with a guy sitting on the bumper above them looks just wrong.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      If their law says that you can't have a bumper sticker that reads "Obama is Fucking Us!"* "Palin is a Cunt!"* or "Shit Happens", then it seems reasonable. A bumper sticker with text is merely a reference to whatever they find obscene; having a realistic looking 3-D pair of family jewels is far more graphic about the subject matter.

      Oh, and if I'm so crazed about not wanting my self/kids/family to see any sexualy oriented thing of any kind, then I don't have to take them to the zoo/let them watch TV/use the internet/have a pet/etc.. There's not much I can do if some redneck cuts me off on the road with his/her set(s) of balls dangling in front of me. Also, while generally given as a lesser point, the 1st Amendment is primarily designed to protect political speech; spouting crap just because you feel like it doesn't always cut it.

      "Flesh colored ones with a guy sitting on the bumper above them looks just wrong." Apparently the guy in the picture agrees, since he went to all that trouble to anonymize his own face... Either that or he just doesn't have the balls to say that he wants testicles on his truck if he might face some retribution.

      *Hypothetical bumper sticker slogans... I hope.

      1. Anonymous Coward


        But only if we also get rid of all those bumper ads for pedophiles who practice symbolic cannibalism while claiming some Mexican guy in a fish "saves".

      2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

        How about 'I (heart) cocks!' ?

        And that's not a hypothetical bumper sticker. Spend time driving around Columbia SC and I guarantee you will see at least 5 of those bumper stickers on the road. More if you're in Columbia during a football Saturday.

        Or go walk around U of SC campus and you'll see girls wearing 'Cocks' across their butt on shorts or sweatpants.

      3. bobbles31

        You dont have a right to get through life unoffended.

        The weird part about your objection is that it is you that is sexualising am image that is intended as a show of masculinity.

        It is you that is projecting a distasteful understanding onto a simply juvenile gesture.

        Personally i think it is you who should be censored or grow up and teach your kids about how life works rather than trying to hide them from it.

      4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: political speech

        "Also, while generally given as a lesser point, the 1st Amendment is primarily designed to protect political speech;"

        Umm, I can't see how this could be anything *other* than political speech. Something like furry dice could be decoration or an indication of support for some sports team. But bollocks? Can that really be anything except an attempt to get up the noses of moral conservatives?

    2. Dave Turner

      Don't give them any ideas

      The next thing you know, someone will be picketing Warner Brothers and Disney demanding that Porky and Donald don pants as it's obscene they're running around pantless.

  6. Chris Seiter
    Thumb Up

    All over the place here

    in Kentucky. She wouldn't have been breaking a bumper sticker law if she lightly powdered them first.

  7. Anonymous Coward

    Not a sticker

    From the image posted with the article, the nuts do not seem to be a bumper sticker, rather it seems to be something than is hung... from the truck.

    Is the "Obscene Bumper Sticker" law for all decorative objects on motor vehicles or does it only apply to bumper stickers?

    I'll tell you whats nuts, blaming the current president for all the problems created by the three or four previous presidents.

    Maybe they should mint that Trillion dollar coin, the could put Obama on one side and Boehner on the other, they could call it the O-boner; heads I win tails you lose :P

    1. 404 Silver badge

      Speaking of O-boner.....

      ... I wasn't sure how to say Boehner either until I called his office to bitch at him or somebody (office was closed - no voicemail lol)..

      It's evidently pronounced 'Bayner'


  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Has his mullet been photoshopped out?


  9. Anonymous Coward

    way to trivialize freedom of speech

    freedom of speech was not designed to be a means for attention wh0res and other dicks to simply p*ss people off. Nor was it about creativity. it was to guarantee political commentary and information on how government was working, what it was doing, etc-and criticism on those-were free and available. Education and awareness being the most important aspects necessary for a real functional Democracy.

    Instead people water it down to allow lack of talent to be called 'art", to allow people to insult or aggravate their neighbors. People only get up in arms about crap they should grow up about, but seem to have no problems with a government classifying political maneuverings as 'secret', closed door meetings, and screams of "racist!" used to drown out any political criticism.

    In other words, your right to be antagonistic runs right against my right to not see your immature shite. If the community, as a majority, decides there are more of us who think your plastic sac is over the line, then grow up and take them off. It's not "all about you". You want to hang them from a poster of Boehner or Weiner, THEN we have some worthy debate as to whether or not they are a "free speech" issue and THAT should be taken to court.

    1. Graham Dawson

      Sorry, you lose.

      The definition of free speech, per the US Bll of Rights, runs: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

      There's no specific clause that says "as long as it's about things deemed important". Free speech is free speech, there's no iff nor but, it is the freedom to express yourself however you see fit. In the public sphere you have no right to not see anatagonist immature shit. The minute you exercise that particular "right", you impinge on the free expression of another.

      This being trivial has no direct bearing on the issues you raised. They are important. However, the fact that this is a silly, trivial little thing is precisely why it is also important. If we let the State begin to take away trivial aspects of a fundamental right, they can salami-slice their way through it until that right is gone.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        @Free speech

        In case you haven't noticed, there are a number of laws that "abridge the freedom of speech." They are primarily in areas that directly inflict harm upon another individual. Thus, we have laws against slander and defamation. We also have laws against verbal abuse. And the SCotUS has upheld obscenity laws in the past as well. Indeed the obscenity laws can be considered as a part of the general desire to protect against harm.

        If you really can't understand how being forced to see something obscene can be harmful, then it's probably time to find a gentler part of the country to live in.

        More examples of the limitations on free speech in the US: #Types_of_restraints_on_speech

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        This is a UK hosted web site so no freedom of speech here

        But, nevertheless.

        Someone wrote above "I'm just pretty much against anything that celebrates redneck culture."

        That sort of statement is why protection of freedom of speech is important.

        Even if they were joking.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Big Brother

          @ Bad News

          Sorry, you're wrong, wrong, wrong.

          The problem is an unjust abridgement of your right to say what you want about the government/politics. It's the easiest thing in the world for an unjust government to say "Your speech about Joe Politician sucking is merely a vulgar description of how his dentures fit poorly, and not covered under our definition of freedom of speech." IIRC, it has been a common practice in certain regimes to do either that, or simply deem the speaker "insane", and lock him up forever.

          The only way to have a guarantee that sort of thing cannot happen is to recognize the freedom to say whatever you want, no matter how non-political it may be. This does not mean that such speech is without consequence -- the old classic of shouting fire in a crowded theater still applies.

          There are practical limits, as well. If you shout "everyone's drinks are on me!" in a rough bar, you can't backpedal out of it later -- unless you don't kind spitting teeth.

          OTOH, a person who takes a box cutter to my (truck) jewels will find me snapping a pic and going after him/her for vandalism.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      On the other hand,

      if we open up the concept of 'speach' enough, then it can be combined with the right to bare arms, and those little hanging bits of plastic make awrfully tempting targets for small-arms practice!

      1. Allan George Dyer Silver badge

        I didn't realise...

        that USAans needed laws to allow sleeveless shirts.

    3. Rustybucket

      You obviously don't understand Freedom of Speech then

      Freedom of Speech was never restricted to politics. The entire point of the Right to Freedom of Speech is that I am allowed to say whatever I want, whenever I want about whatever I want. The only restriction is that this right cannot be used to harm someone else's rights nor threaten national security.

      However, you don't have any 'right to not see your immature shite' - there is no freedom from being offended. And because none of your rights, nor anyone else's, have been harmed, you don't get any right to do anything. Why? Because *everyone* gets the right to say what they want, even if it's offensive. So instead try not looking and not being a whiny little tosspot.

      And as for 'If the... majority, decides...your plastic sac is over the line, then grow up and take them off', you understand neither Freedom, Education, Awareness nor Democracy. The entire point of Freedom of Speech is that the majority *don't* get to decide.

      Perhaps you should stop moaning about others growing up and try it yourself first

      1. Solomon Grundy

        Bad News

        The freedom of speech bit *was* put into the U.S. Constitution to protect political speech.

        You can read about it in the early draft notes and meeting notes from the framing meetings if you care to take the time to do so.

    4. MooseNC


      "In other words, your right to be antagonistic runs right against my right to not see your immature shite. If the community, as a majority, decides there are more of us who think your plastic sac is over the line, then grow up and take them off. It's not "all about you"."

      Your posting is antagonizing. I have a right not to see it. Grow up and don't post again. It's not "all about you".

      Fun how that works, isn't it?

    5. Old Handle
      Thumb Down

      @way to trivialize freedom of speech

      No, you're trivializing freedom of speech. You're trying to whittle down to one particular category of speech you think is acceptable. I agree the concept has been interpreted somewhat broadly over the years, it's true. But if that means I have to see an offensive bumper sticker now and then (and believe me, I do), I can live with it. The consequences of interpreting it narrowly in contrast, could be disastrous.

      Censorship is poison for democracy. Even an apparently reasonable law like blocking child pornography can be abused. And as we've seen in various cases around the world, if it can be abused, it probably will be.

  10. Number6

    Good name

    I like that name - truck nuts. Far less offensive than the UK equivalent (a.k.a. Ed Balls)

  11. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    A solution and a market opportunity

    A pair of little plastic replica president's heads

    Either Bush or Obama depending on your politics.

    A police officer is going to have a hard time claiming that a president's head is obscene

    1. Anonymous Coward

      but, but, but...

      Those would be Truck _schmucks_, not balls.


  12. Jay 11

    One has to wonder...

    where the tow ball is in that picture...

    1. wayne 8

      Not really

      It is a receiver hitch. The tow ball is on a long square tube piece that is inserted into to the space where the balls are hung. We septics don't have to drive around with tow ball hanging in the breeze.

      Really the issue is that the attachment is anatomically incorrect. The receiver is a female receptacle. Having a set of balls is useless and detrimental to the enjoyment of said device.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      you wonder?

      Somewhere I have the video of him sitting down.... It's rather boring.

    3. . 3

      Tow hitch

      AFAIK they are always the detachable type in the US. Much neater looking than the horrendous 1/4" plate and a enormous pair of nuts style we have had mandated in the UK since forever.


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