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View Full Version : Mass town = No profanity



Fleeman93
06-12-2012, 09:39 AM
http://www.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-06-12/middleborough-swearing-fine/55542416/1

MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) Residents in a town outside Boston voted Monday night to make the foul-mouthed pay fines for swearing in public. At a town meeting, residents voted 183-50 to approve a proposal from the police chief to impose a $20 fine on public profanity.

Officials insist the proposal was not intended to censor casual or private conversations, but instead to crack down on loud, profanity-laden language used by teens and other young people in the downtown area and public parks.

"I'm really happy about it," Mimi Duphily, a store owner and former town selectwoman, said after the vote. "I'm sure there's going to be some fallout, but I think what we did was necessary."

Duphily, who runs an auto parts store, is among the downtown merchants who wanted to take a stand against the kind of swearing that can make customers uncomfortable.

"They'll sit on the bench and yell back and forth to each other with the foulest language. It's just so inappropriate," she said.

The measure could raise questions about constitutional free speech rights, but state law does allow towns to enforce local laws that give police the power to arrest anyone who "addresses another person with profane or obscene language" in a public place.

Matthew Segal, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government cannot prohibit public speech just because it contains profanity.

The ordinance gives police discretion over whether to ticket someone if they believe the cursing ban has been violated.

Middleborough, a town of about 20,000 residents perhaps best known for its rich cranberry bogs, has had a bylaw against public profanity since 1968. But because that bylaw essentially makes cursing a crime, it has rarely if ever been enforced, officials said, because it simply would not merit the time and expense to pursue a case through the courts.

The ordinance would decriminalize public profanity, allowing police to write tickets as they would for a traffic violation. It would also decriminalize certain types of disorderly conduct, public drinking and marijuana use, and dumping snow on a roadway.

Segal praised Middleborough for reconsidering its bylaw against public profanity, but said fining people for it isn't much better.

"Police officers who never enforced the bylaw might be tempted to issue these fines, and people might end up getting fined for constitutionally protected speech," he said.

Another local merchant, Robert Saquet, described himself as "ambivalent" about the no-swearing proposal.

"In view of words commonly used in movies and cable TV, it's kind of hard to define exactly what is obscene," said Paquet, who owns a downtown furniture store.

But Duphily said, "I don't care what you do in private. It's in public what bothers me."


Read some of the comments. Thoughts?

Strider324
06-12-2012, 09:44 AM
I like it. People should stfu in public.

I would be bankrupt in about an hour......
:(

Fleeman93
06-12-2012, 09:54 AM
I like it. People should stfu in public.

I would be bankrupt in about an hour......
:(

Legally what do you think about it?

Strider324
06-12-2012, 10:44 AM
Legally what do you think about it?

I find it interesting that they have to decriminalize the behavior so they can write tickets for it. And they also mention decriminalizing marijuana for the same purpose.

I agree that the problem will be in determining exactly what words will be subject to fines. Are they gonna have a list? Publish it for all to see? Borrow from George Carlin? Cuz if it includes 'Tits' - I'm out.
:D

Profanity is a victimless crime. Legislating against it shows a lack of focus on issues of real import, imo.

dragonpants
06-15-2012, 07:22 PM
I find it interesting that they have to decriminalize the behavior so they can write tickets for it. And they also mention decriminalizing marijuana for the same purpose.

I agree that the problem will be in determining exactly what words will be subject to fines. Are they gonna have a list? Publish it for all to see? Borrow from George Carlin? Cuz if it includes 'Tits' - I'm out.
:D

Profanity is a victimless crime. Legislating against it shows a lack of focus on issues of real import, imo.

It is a money making scheme. Who is going to take time off work to fight a $20 ticket, however someone that has some free time and money for an attorney is going to make this into an incredibly difficult situation to enforce. What about police officers who are dealing with a difficult suspect and tell him /her to shut the F up etc etc, do they write themselves tickets, wait until someone records a public figure using profanity, this is over legislation at it's worst.
If someone is cursing that loudly and the police hear it then tell them to stop and if they do not then cite them for something else, disorderly conduct for example, I bet that fine is a lot bigger than $20