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A horse is a horse, of course of course.

mrEd.jpgGarrett Redmond owns a racing a horse and he wants to name it Sally Hemings (you may recognize that name as the name of one of Thomas Jefferson’s slaves, and a possible bedmate to boot). But out in Kentucky, the Jockey Club put the kibosh on this, since its rules say that you can’t name your horse after notorious people, or with a name considered in poor taste or offensive. And “Sally Hemings,” the Club argued, meets the bill on all accounts. So in May of 2005, Redmond temporarily renamed the filly “Awaiting Justice” and sued the Club. As the Jockey Club’s president recently said:

Since we first denied this name, we’ve issued over 100,000 names…. It’s pretty silly. I can’t think of another example in 24 years where we rejected a name and it started a fight. People just pick another name.

It does indeed seem pretty silly to go to court over this, especially since Redmond got bubkis for his efforts — he lost in District Court, and now the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has affirmed that decision, ruling that the club can absolutely limit the names Redmond can use for his horse. As the Court explained, while Redmond does have First Amendment rights, those rights aren’t absolute, and because the Jockey Club is a private organization (albeit one with some powers delegated by the state) it can limit speech as long as it doesn’t do so in a discriminatory manner.

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Comments

I love that ruling. It states exactly what a lot of First-Amendment-spouting assholes seem to forget: freedom of speech has its limits, and private citizens and groups don't have to put up with garbage just because. You can say what you want, but don't expect folks to just sit back and take it.

I doubt this guy was naming the horse Sally Hemmings out of his love of the name. He was being a dick and flouting their rules, and they called him out on it.

Maybe he could name the horse Chuck Norris.