The Unwritten Portions of the Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property Supersede the First Amendment

Lapriss Gilbert of Van Nuys California was ejected and threatened with arrest for entering the Van Nuys federal building while wearing an offensive t-shirt.

The message on her t-shirt: ""

As she headed for a line to pick up a Social Security card for her son, Gilbert was stopped by a guard who said her T-shirt, naming an educational and resource Web site for gay women, was offensive.

She said the guard, who works for a private company hired by the Department of Homeland Security, demanded that she leave the building or face arrest.

"As an African-American and a lesbian, I haven't been through one day without facing some sort of discrimination … but this is just shocking," said Gilbert, 31.

With respect to Ms. Gilbert, as a Danish-American and a heterosexual, I haven't been through one day without facing some sort of discrimination, but I agree with her that this is pretty damned shocking.

A security guard identified by Lapriss Gilbert as the one who told her to leave declined to comment.

The guard cited the document, The Rules and Regulations Governing Conduct on Federal Property, as proof of his jurisdiction over Gilbert's attire, she said.

The document does not specifically address what type of clothing us allowed in federal buildings.

I believe that Supreme Court precedent indicates that pasties and a g-string should be allowed in federal buildings, but that isn't my practice and it's been years since con law.  While I wouldn't advise wearing pasties and a g-string to federal court, Ms. Gilbert was just there to pick up a blue card that the government requires her to get for her son.  And what's so offensive about a t-shirt that says "" anyway?

What is offensive is the extent to which the federal government, which never fails to assert its power over us, its subjects, is increasingly delegating that power to private companies which in turn delegate it to yahoos who threaten to arrest citizens for, in this case, wearing a t-shirt that wouldn't get one arrested by an actual cop in Montgomery Alabama.

Where do they find these people?

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White


  1. Ansley says

    I'm just floored that the woman's name is "lapriss". Do you think her mother really named her the equivalent of Miss Priss? That's awesome!

  2. says

    Where do they find these people?

    The unemployment line? Support groups for recently fired burger-flippers?

    Small, petty people, given petty power, tend to overindulge in it.

  3. tgb says

    Private security guards are always a source of amusement. When I was attending CCNY, security was contracted to Wackenhut. I won't say what we called them, except it ended in "-offs".

    Anyway, this being the 60's/early 70's and the time of real social protest, someone came up with the brilliant idea of arming these yabobs. The VERY FIRST DAY, one of them shot off his toe while twirling his firearm on his finger, "wild-West" style.

    The guns were confiscated the next day.