Wisconsin Mom Says Swearing at Son Is Free Speech

Ginger Breitzman is appealing jail sentence
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 22, 2017 2:35 AM CDT
Ginger Breitzman.   (Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office)

(Newser) – The Wisconsin Supreme Court is deciding whether a mother's profane tirade against her 14-year-old son for burning popcorn amounted to free speech. Ginger Breitzman, 44, argued this week that her language wasn't inciting violence or a true threat and therefore is protected speech, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Breitzman was charged with disorderly conduct following a 2012 incident where she screamed at her son while he was talking to a friend on the phone. Her son later called the police. As for what she said, the Journal Sentinel cites court records that include the phrases "piece of [expletive]" and "[expletive] face." A Milwaukee County jury convicted Breitzman and she was sentenced to six months in jail.

Breitzman appealed, saying her attorney was ineffective for not arguing the charge violated her free speech, the AP reports. Justice Michael Gableman questioned if the state should be arbitrating disorderly conduct in disputes that occur in private homes, while Justice Ann Bradley raised concerns that the court's decision could affect domestic violence cases if the court suggests that individuals can do whatever they want in their own home. The court is expected to take a few weeks before reaching a decision. Breitzman was also charged with child abuse that intentionally caused harm and child neglect for locking her son out of the house for five hours on an extremely cold winter day. (Read more free speech stories.)

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