A Louisiana woman is allowed to put back up Christmas lights shaped like a middle finger, a judge said Thursday, after the American Civil Liberties Union sued on her behalf.
Sarah Childs sued the city of Denham Springs, La. after police twice made her remove the lights, according to the Associated Press. Childs put up the not-so-festive display last month after an apparent dispute with her neighbors, prompting complaint calls to the police. The first time, an officer told Childs she could be fined, and the second time an officer threatened to arrest her.
A federal judge on Thursday granted Childs a temporary restraining order barring city officials from interfering with her lights and allowing her to put them back up on free speech grounds. He set a Jan. 7 hearing in Baton Rouge on the matter.
“If people find it distasteful or they don’t like it, well, that’s life,” ACLU of Louisiana executive director Marjorie Esman told WAFB-TV. “We are all exposed to things we don’t like and people have different opinions, that’s what makes for a free society.”
The ACLU did not detail what the initial neighbor dispute was about.
One of Childs’ neighbors said he doesn’t have a problem with freedom of expression but worried what parents would have to tell their children about the lights.
“Kids are going to look at those lights and wonder, ‘Mom, Dad what is that, what does that mean?’” Todd Traylor told WAFB. “How do you explain that to a 4-year-old kid or a 2-year-old kid who doesn’t know what that means and you try to shield them from stuff like that.”
Another woman said the display was simply uncalled for, given the season: “I just can’t believe someone would take Christmas and put those kind of Christmas lights up.”