Focusing on conduct, not words

Published:

CINCINNATI (AP) -- Prosecutors say they will focus on conduct, not words, in the upcoming trial of a man who says he was charged after using the word "crippled" to promote a comedian with muscular dystrophy.

Forest Thomer, of Cold Spring, Ky., faces trial Sept. 26 on a disorderly conduct charge. He was cited by Cincinnati police in May after he asked people in a park if they wanted to "laugh at the crippled girl" -- his friend Ally Bruener.

The Alexandria, Ky., woman is in a wheelchair, and they were promoting her comedy show and website. She says she is trying to remove stigma for the word "crippled" as she points to her condition with humor.

Police said Thomer also shouted obscenities and used abusive language. Thomer, age 25, charges that his free speech rights are being violated.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reports (http://cin.ci/QaKptw) that a prosecutor said Monday that his First Amendment rights aren't being challenged, but that he was too loud and disorderly.

"Content isn't a prosecutable offense because it's protected by the First Amendment," said Jennifer Bishop, assistant city solicitor. "We don't violate people's constitutional rights."

Thomer still believes he was being censored.

"Maybe they don't know why they arrested me," he said.

The disorderly conduct charge carries a potential sentence of 30 days in jail.

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