Wilton Man To Appear In Court For Charges Related To Phallic Sculpture
Recorded on September 29, 2020
A Wilton man will appear in court this October facing the charges related to the display of a large phallic sculpture on his property. Would this display be protected under his first amendment rights, or would it be considered obscene under the law? Attorney Paul Harding of Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP is on the radio with PYX106 discussing the issue.
Please give it a listen or read the transcript below.
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Man 1: 1-800-LAW-1010, 1800law1010.com. “Gagne’s Dong”
Man 2: That’s what I’m dubbing it.
Man 1: Well, the “Wilton Woody” is another nickname.
Man 2: Horrifying.
Man 1: Paul Harding has to come out here…
Man 2: Sorry, Paul.
Man 1: …and explain this. Sorry about this, Paul. Apology in advance.
Man 2: Hey, we’re all adults.
Paul: Right. No, there’s a professional component to this that has a legal element so I appreciate you bringing me in.
Man 2: He appreciates it.
Man 1: Of all the weeks for Chas not to be on. So people are following this story in Wilton and I’m a little confused. Where is it at as far as a court case and what’s the charge?
Paul: Yeah, well, October 27th he will appear in court. The charge is displaying offensive material and so when I went to look this case up, I found myself not only on “The Daily Mail” in the UK, “Le Monde”, which is the French international newspaper. I could barely get something local. I mean, the world, not only national, the world is taking…
Man 1: Notice.
Paul: …heed of what’s going to happen here on October 27th in our own Wilton. Yeah, he’s going to be…you know, face the charges and the question always comes down to, you know, his ability to display art versus his first amendment protections versus whether or not this is obscene and crosses the line.
Man 1: I’m going to make this easier for you, Paul, here in a second because I can hear how painful this is for you.
Paul: I’m choosing my words carefully.
Man 2: When all this is said and done, this could become a piece of folk art that stands up and fights against the man for the common man. At the end of the story I was reading, it said that his first stop after all this legal stuff is done with, the first stop for this giant wooden penis will be a home on Route 50 where a resident there is in dispute with the town over rebuilding a home that was destroyed by fire, and they would like to display their fist in the air piece of artwork.
Man 1: And the penis came about, the carving, because the guy, I think, Paul, right, was denied a permit for his woodshop.
Paul: He was.
Man 1: Right. So isn’t there already a precedent? Haven’t we seen this kind of case play out? Why does he even need to go to court, Paul?
Paul: Well, you know, we’ve got a little cottage industry maybe in the making here. Going to be renting out his 7-foot phallic symbol. So what happened is he’s going to court because he’s charged with a criminal offense. You know, the town drove by and said, “Hey, you can’t do this.” It really is basically what does obscenity mean?
We know you can’t have, you know, a pornographic, we’ll say, video playing in front of your house because children are going to go by and that isn’t ever going to meet the criteria for art and we also know, which is if you use political satire. So let’s say that you took a political figure, maybe Mr. Trump or Mr. Biden, and you made them into that figure, that probably is absolutely protected.
So political satire using that sort of thing isn’t going to be struck down. But here the question is just, you know, what is the artistic purpose between this and will it offend, and they often go to children are going to be driving by, asking questions and we’ll see what the court holds.
Man 2: And it’s the symbol of… you know, it’s one of the many but it is a symbol of life. I mean, it is an important symbol.
Man 1: Yeah. Sure.
Paul: It’s just an unrealistic view of that to some degree, you know. So it just could bring about lots of questions and, you know, you could see where there were complaints and then the town says, “All right, we have an obscenity law. Let’s throw it at him.” And he has fought back and probably is going to win.
Man 1: Nice.
Paul: Yeah, that’s the early read here. I’m looking at this thinking it probably does not cross that obscenity line. Although many people will view it as obscene, I think the court’s going to look at this and say protected free speech.
Man 2: I like to hear that. I like to hear that.
Man 1: You’re going by Ruggles Road over in Wilton to check out what’s now being called “The Forest Phallus.” It’s in this side yard covered by a lot of greenery. I don’t know if you’ll be able to see it while he awaits the court. We’ll see. We’ll follow up on it, right, Paul?
Paul: We will follow up on this story. The world is following up on this story and I look forward to reporting back.
Man 2: I love it. Thank you, Paul.
Man 1: I don’t know what you’re doing with the rest of the day, Paul, but is this the best part of it you think?
Paul: It goes downhill, yeah.
Man 2: Taking a shower probably.
Man 1: You’re the best, Paul, thank you.
Man 2: Thanks buddy. Paul Harding from Martin, Harding & Mazzotti. 1-800-LAW-1010, 1800law1010.com.