College student Ellen Marks has recently learned a bit about free speech and the power of her voice. Normally, when walking down the street, using public transportation, or making her way through the halls of her college, Ellen has chosen to let the wind guide her, occasionally bumping into people or passive aggressively waiting for them to move while she sighed quietly. But this week she had the major realization that it’s legal to say, “Excuse me”.
“In the past I just figured that people notice when I am planning to walk into them. People can usually pick up my vibes!” muses Marks. “But I’m starting to realize that I can actually just legally ask them to move aside.”
“Thanks to the First Amendment and years of historical precedent, saying ‘excuse me’ is not only legal, but highly encouraged,” says constitutional scholar Barbara Rhoades. “But it appears that very few white women seem to know their rights when it comes to saying this phrase.”
A few classmates and loved ones spoke about how Ellen avoided this phrase for years.
“Walking near her in any closed space used to feel like an act of violence,” says one classmate. “At least until Friday when she finally said ‘excuse me’ for once. Looks like she finally got the memo.”
“One time at the movies, Ellen had a huge backpack, so I made a big deal on saying ‘excuse me’ to the people we moved past in our row,” says another friend. “I thought it was a teachable moment, but it went over her head. I’m just glad she knows it’s legal now.”
“In times like these, it’s best to know that using manners and cordial, communicative language can really make a difference,” adds Dr. Rhoades. “And completely, 100% legal in any situation.”