Judge: Horn-honking is not protected speech

This just in from Wisconsin: You have no constitutional right to honk your horn.

As with everything in Wisconsin that doesn’t stem from the Packers, this stems from Gov. Scott Walker’s move last spring to limit the collective bargaining rights of some public employees, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Azael Brodhead, a 35-year old Iraq war veteran who works for the Department of Corrections, regularly drove by the governor’s house, honked his horn, stuck his middle finger up (in Packerland, that means “we’re number one.” Outside of the governor’s house, it means something different), and shouted “recall Walker.”

State troopers assigned to the governor eventually gave him a ticket and last week he lost his court case, where he argued a First Amendment right.

A judge said she could find no precedent declaring horn honking to be protected speech (Note to judge: I don’t think that necessarily precludes you from making one).

Now, the the paper reports, his state employers are trying to determine if he should be disciplined.


But supervisors in his office have initiated an internal investigation to see if he violated workplace rules with his actions. In particular, Brodhead said, they are trying to determine whether he should be disciplined for being abusive toward state troopers when he was pulled over. He has contacted his public employees union to represent him in the matter.

“I’m sure this was politically motivated,” Brodhead said.

In fact, the police summary of the incident does accuse Brodhead of using repeated profanities, such as saying the troopers protected the “piece of (expletive) governor” or saying “your boss is a (expletive) (expletive).” The trooper also quoted Brodhead as directing strong language at the police, calling them “(expletive) cops” and more.