Abraham Urquizo, 35, a visitor from Jamaica, N.Y., was arrested this week at Salsa’s Mexican and Seafood Restaurant on Seawall Boulevard in Galveston after twice using the [F] word to berate his girlfriend, officials said.
A Galveston police officer overhead the conversation in which Urquizo was reported to have said, “I can’t believe you’re so (expletive deleted) stupid” which was followed by “what the (expletive deleted) were you thinking.”
The officer, eating his dinner nearby, took Urquizo outside to caution him about his speech , said Galveston police spokesman, Lt. D.J. Alvarez. The restaurant’s manager then stated the use of the word had offended him and asked the officer to do something, Alvarez said.
The officer arrested Urquizo on a charge of disorderly conduct.
Urquizo could not be reached for comment, but he has since pleaded guilty to the misdemeanor offense. The judge assessed his punishment as the hours he had already spent in jail prior to the pleading.
Was the legal problem just his use of that word in public, and not the fact that he was berating his girlfriend? That is how it is reported, but one can hope that his target was part of what led the policeman to action in this case and sustained the charge of disorderly conduct. Thus:
While the word is vulgar, disrespectful and in poor taste, constitutional scholars such at T. Gerald Treece, an associate dean at the South Texas College of Law, believe “criminalizing” the word is a violation of free speech.
Such a word has to “excite violence or an immediate disruption, where people feel they are forced to leave or not participate in an activity” before police action would be warranted, he said.
State law says the use of abusive, indecent, profane or vulgar language in a public place, which causes an “immediate breach of peace,” meets the definition of disorderly conduct.
Perhaps, we can hope, verbal violence toward your partner can constitute a breach of peace.