The F-Word Shirt

Perhaps you've read the controversy about New York Yankees infielder Alex Rodriguez's wife, Cynthia, who wore a shirt to a game on Sunday at Yankee Stadium with the phrase "F*** You" on the back. (I'm editing the word here, but her shirt was unexpurgated.) Needless to say, a lot of people thought that the shirt was offensive, especially with children present. Then, yesterday, a female reporter from the New York Post went to Yankee Stadium wearing the same shirt design, apparently to see what the reaction would be. She ended up getting tossed out of the game when someone spotted the shirt and complained about it to stadium personnel. I approve of her being asked to leave the stadium.

Some might say, "Well, what about her free speech rights?" The answer, of course, is that while "Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech or of the press," privately owned establishments are allowed to decide what is appropriate speech on their premises, and to deny service to those who breach proper decorum.

So then the question comes to mind: When is it not a breach of proper decorum to wear a T-shirt with a phrase on it that any reasonable person would be likely to find patently offensive and obscene? The answer is that there are not many occasions when such a shirt would be appropriate. Perhaps at a frat house keg party, or on the set of an adult film. That's about it.

I know about this kind of situation, because back in my married days, my ex-wife gave me a novelty T-shirt with all of the various uses for the F-word: Noun, verb, adjective, etc. I found it humorous, but it's never been worn outside of my house. Perhaps Mrs. A-Rod and the New York Post reporter should have exercised the same discretion.