MA Town to Start Fining 20$ for Cursing.

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 06/12/2012 ( 26 moms have responded )

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I heard about this this morning on GMA and first all I could think was: my FIL would go broke down there and that this was just a joke. But it's true, the town of Middleborough MA is going to start fining 20$ for swearing.

Mass. town OKs $20 fines for swearing in public
(AP) – 21 hours ago
MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Residents in Middleborough 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 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 First Amendment 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, likening it to try to enforce a ban on the seven dirty words of George Carlin, a nod to a famous sketch by the late comedian.

"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."


So what are your thoughts on this? Do you believe it's right to fine people for using language that you may deem offensive?

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Jenny - posted on 06/12/2012

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Fuck that. Imposing fascist behaviour is not the way to go. Why do we feel we are entitled to live in a sanitized society? We put power into those words when we make them a big deal.

~♥Little Miss - posted on 06/15/2012

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Well, if the cops were more diligent about dealing with loiterers, this would not be an issue.

Jodi - posted on 06/12/2012

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I don't know, on the one hand, it would be super nice if we could crack down on the profanity (at the local park the teens there are AWEFUL about smoking and swearing right in front of the kiddies), on the other hand, it IS freedom of speech and *I* swear occasionally, so it would be really hypocritical of me to support of ban of it. Then again, if it really is ONLY going to be enforced for people obviously causing a ruckus, that wouldn't apply to the average joe who just occasionally swears in private conversation.

I honestly think a firm warning from the cops would suffice, if they back talk or continue they could be issued disorderly conduct tickets anyways. IME, if you just tell teens to knock it off, I have a kid here, they usually shut up, I honestly have never heard an adult swear in such a fashion and so much that it bothered me. (Except my neighbors, but i'ts a group home for the cognitively disabled, so I try to be understanding of that)

Johnny - posted on 06/12/2012

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It's a good scheme to make money. Our local news interviewed some of our local police about it. They all pointed out that it would be pretty hypocritical of them to write tickets for things they themselves do on a regular basis off-duty. They were playing football during the interviews and you could audibly hear one of the cops yell "Fuck" when he got tackled during another cop's interview. Pretty funny.

I get the part about audible ceaseless swearing in inappropriate places, but I'm going to share a little story. I was sitting on the Starbucks patio with a friend when our daughters were about 2. There was a group of teens at the next table and one of them must have said fuck at the beginning and end and sometimes in the middle of every single sentence. Completely obnoxious. My friend and I were a bit irritated but didn't say anything. One of his friends actually said to him, "dude, is it at all possible for you to say just one sentence without swearing?" He stopped talking, stared at his friend, and said, "oh shit, I am so rude. I don't even realized I am doing it. I'm such a jerk." Then he got up, turned to us and apologized profusely. He barely spoke after that, he seemed really embarrassed. So maybe kids just need a polite reminder, not a $20 ticket.

Jenny - posted on 06/12/2012

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Ah, first world problems. There are going to be rude people in society who don't know when to turn if off. Always have been, always will be. We have no right to tell others what to say. Freedom of speech and all that.

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Shawnn - posted on 06/18/2012

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It is nice to be able to swear at my kids without people thinking I'm a horrible parent...LOL...German is great for that, and so is Spanish! LOLOL



That being said, and not having time to read everything...LOL...except I just realized that we never DID figure out how those seashells worked in Demolition Man, did we?



I would hope that they're addressing those violations such as we experienced the other day. In line at the supermarket...and a young lady (early 20's, I'd say) on her cell phone, and as loudly as she possibly could, shouts "YOU TELL ERIC TO QUIT LYING, THE FUCKING DOUCHE BAG"



My husband about lost it...LOL...after he wiped the shocked look off his face, he stepped right behind her, and at the top of his lungs started in... "REALLY? YA DON'T SAY? YA MEAN THAT TYPE OF LANGUAGE IS ACCEPTABLE NOW, IN PUBLIC??? AND YOUR CONVERSATION IS SO..." Needless to say, I was laughing too hard to continue my transaction, the clerk had to clear my errors, (but was laughing as well)...and she looked miffed that someone had interrupted her oh so "private" conversation.



Honestly, if you want to swear like a sailor, I really don't care. I'll comment, usually sarcastically, if I feel that you're out of line around kids or whatever, but then I'll usually turn around and point out to whatever kids I'm with that those are "adult" words. But, I do want to see how they plan on enforcing that one...



ETA: People using their cell phones with no courtesy and sharing their "private" conversations with the rest of us...THAT is something I'd like to see prohibited, personally!

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 06/15/2012

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I'm with you America. Although, I am not so much in public.

America3437 - posted on 06/15/2012

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I have an awful potty mouth so I would need to take out a second mortage to pay for the fines.

Elfrieda - posted on 06/14/2012

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I can see why they'd do it. Kind of funny, really. And it's a good way to increase the town's revenue! Maybe the loiterers will have to go and get jobs to pay for the tickets, thus taking care of the problem altogether because they'll be away working. (although probably their parents will pay... it seems to be the way it is these days.)

Lady Heather - posted on 06/13/2012

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Ha, Johnny. I don't know why but that reminds me of this kid the other day. We were out walking and this group of older teens (probably 19) were walking towards us drinking some beer. So you're thinking, oh dear. Public street drinking kids...one spills his beer on himself and starts to say "oh shit" but he looks up and sees my kids there. "oh shi...oot. I appear to have spilled my beverage upon my shirt. Gosh darn it, that was rather silly of me." I was impressed.

Lady Heather - posted on 06/13/2012

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I think the main problem is we all have different ideas of what is profane. To me damn and hell and crap and even shit are not really bad. Some people find one or more of all of those are profane. I certainly try and avoid using those words but sometimes they slip out in public. Do I like it when I'm on the bus with my kid and the teen boys behind us are fuck this and fuck that? No. But this kind of law is too much. Where do we draw the line? Who decides what is profane?

♥♪Megan♫♥ - posted on 06/13/2012

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It (classical music) wouldn't stop me, I'd start pretend conducting and doing the 100 things to do at Walmart List.



ETA: I'd probably start practicing cursing in Italian, Spanish, Vietnamese, Japanese and French.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 06/13/2012

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I am half German but don't know any of it...perhaps I should give my grandmother a call? That sounds very appealing....LOL

Johnny - posted on 06/13/2012

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Whereas I would love to sit down, have a cappuccino and try practicing my German swearing in honor of Mozart. German swears are awesome.

MeMe - Raises Her Hand (-_-) (Mommy Of A Toddler And Teen) - posted on 06/13/2012

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Yeah, classical music would stop me from frequenting, let alone loitering...hehehee

Krista - posted on 06/13/2012

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I can see why they'd be frustrated. I LOVE cursing, but I find it irritating when people loudly and incessantly curse in public. This is really the wrong way to go about it, though. They should just pipe classical music through the downtown -- I read somewhere that it deters people from loitering. :)

Tracey - posted on 06/13/2012

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Reminds me of Demolition Man where Stallone swore repeatedly at a machine so he could use the tickets as toilet paper.

Stifler's - posted on 06/12/2012

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isn't there a law against that anyway as in disturbing the peace by yelling and carrying on?

[deleted account]

"If they are in a cafe and it's turning customers away the owner has the right to ask them to leave for disturbing the peace though." --Stifler's Mum

I do understand that, but a lot of our cafe's have outdoor seating in a common plaza or along the street, and the teens (sorry for the stereotyping of teens here--it's not always teens, and not all teens are like that, but the majority of people causing this problem in my town are teens) are standing in the plaza shouting at one another, the owner / manager has no rights to ask them to move, but they are still driving customers away.

Again, don't really support the law, but I see where they want to go with it.

Stifler's - posted on 06/12/2012

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If they are in a cafe and it's turning customers away the owner has the right to ask them to leave for disturbing the peace though.

[deleted account]

When I first saw the headline, I thought it was ridiculous, but after reading further, I can see what they are aiming to do.

I am one of those people who doesn't really care about cursing--they are just words--and I don't even discipline J for using them unless he is using them in a disrespectful or mean way. That said, I get EXTREMELY annoyed at teens shouting profanity laden conversations to one another just to get attention and make others uncomfortable--show they can cross certain lines, so to speak. I have often seen teens standing 2 feet from one another practically shouting a conversation in which every second word is an F bomb or other offensive word, and the scene usually is enough to cause paying customers to leave a place of business.

It is one thing to shout "Damn!" when you get hurt, or to curse quietly in a private conversation, it is completely different when you are shouting it just to get a rise out of others. This law is not intended to punish people swearing within conversation--after all, the police officer has to hear you say the word in order to write the ticket, and unless you are being unnecessarily loud, he shouldn't be able to hear it.

That said, I do think it opens up a lot of ground for abuse of power, so I'm not really sure it is a great idea.

Stifler's - posted on 06/12/2012

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LOL! People need to lock themselves up in a cabin in the "woods" so they don't hear any swear words. There will always be something that causes offense.

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