The following events are true and happened between 5:40 p.m. and 6 p.m. on Feb. 18.

There was a protest for free speech. It was students versus the Man. Quite literally, there were two students against one man: a Santa Barbara Metropolitan Transit District bus driver.

Let me start from the beginning:

As I was taking the bus to campus, two students boarded with me at the Santa Catalina stop going to UCSB. With my headphones on, silently rocking out to Lambretta, Bus Driver Charlie, as his nametag said, asked the two other students to watch their mouths, as they were swearing.

The students brushed it off and continued talking about their fu**ing conversation. As a college student – or, rather, just a person – swearing is something I’ve been exposed to, as almost everyone has been. Driver Charlie, apparently, was not exposed to it in life.

“I asked you politely, watch what you’re saying,” he said. He then went on to express that cursing was against the rules on the bus and told the two to look at the rules that were posted.

No eating. No smoking. No radio. Vegetables make good munchies. There wasn’t a single sign against foul language, and the two brought this to Bus Driver Charlie’s attention.

“Who decides what a curse word is?” asked one of the two potty-mouthed students.

When the bus arrived at UCSB all three of us got out, with Bus Driver Charlie following the two other students and taking their names down on his neon green clipboard.

After visiting the SBMTD Web site, under bus safety it does indeed state this: “No use of threatening or profane language or gestures.”

This brings up the same question Mr. Potty-Mouth asked. Who does determine if a word is in fact profane? And is this an infringement of our freedom of speech?

In 1942, the case Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire took on such a topic, ruling that “fighting words,” or words that inflict injury, incite hatred, or create an immediate “breach of peace,” are not protected under the First Amendment. The Supreme Court also established a doctrine that compiled these fighting words.

With Street v. New York in 1969, the fighting-words doctrine proved yet again that the First Amendment doesn’t like a potty-mouth, either. However, it also stated that the fighting words must present an actual threat of immediate violence, not just be distasteful to the ear. Cohen v. California in 1971 followed this, where Cohen was arrested for wearing a jacket that said “Fu*k the Draft” on it. However, this was determined not to be under the fighting words category since it wasn’t directed toward anyone in particular.

So next time you decide to carry on a f*cking conversation while on the bus, make sure you’re not directing your profanity toward Bus Driver Charlie, or else them’s fightin’ words.