Personal freedom and community responsibility Saturday morning I popped into Hernandez bakery for some breakfast burritos for the fam. A guy got out of a small pickup that said Hertz and walked in behind me. His shirt said in big, bold letters: "No beer, no f---in' work." I couldn't believe it. "Surely that isn't what it says," I thought. So I kept peeking around to make sure I hadn't mixed up a couple letters. That evening at the Rangers game I saw a guy proudly sporting a Big Johnson t-shirt that played off of oral sex--as do so many of the shirts they sell. It's also fairly common to see bumper stickers that are not "family-approved." My concern here isn't about language. It's about public responsibility. Should a guy be able to walk into a family restaurant with a shirt that has the f-word on it? You can't yell "fire" in a crowded theater if there is no fire. People might be trampled to death -- all because you thought it would be funny. This is a tough one, because who decides what t-shirts and bumper stickers are all right, which ones are risque but barely all right, and which ones are over the line? And yet, it doesn't take the Supreme Court to tell us that someone shouldn't be allowed to wear the shirt I saw in a family establishment. I've recently read an outraged letter that is circulating from a man who was asked by a Delta flight attendant to cover the t-shirt he was wearing because it was offensive to Christians. She undoubtedly shouldn't have added the last part. But that doesn't mean she was completely out of line. He's threatening to sue the airline if they don't fire her. (Note: earlier this morning, I posted the words from the t-shirt, but I've since decided to remove them. They are as blatant and more inappropriate than the phrase I mentioned in the first paragraph.) All in the name of personal freedom, right? He wore that shirt onto a plane and now he's incensed that he was wronged. He's probably outraged about narrow-minded Christians and the loss of freedom. And to be honest, I shutter to think of the ways many narrow-minded people might actually respond! ("Your freedom ends where my Smith and Wesson begins" -- a lovely sentiment I've seen before.) So what is the proper response? How do we combine freedom of expression with community responsibility? Who decides? Who enforces?