MA Town Approves Fines For Swearing (1 Viewer)


Ah, here we go again. Introducing more laws that violate the constitution and give police more power than they need. In 2012, female residents of both sexes would much rather put restrictions on the first amendment than tackle the problem of thugs swearing loudly and loitering around in the traditional, more male chauvinist way of dealing with the problem. That might even be racist.

If you can't arrest them for disorderly conduct, loitering or disturbing the peace, then you shouldn't be able to ticket them for what words they choose to use.

Does a town deserve the rights given to them by the blood and sweat of our Forefathers if they do not value them? I think not. I think they should start ticketing people in that town for any speech anyone feels is offensive. Actually, I think that the mayor of that town should just come up with a draft of what the official party line of that town is, and anyone who strays from it should be searched, arrested, spend a week in jail and then pay a $1000 dollar fine upon release.

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MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. -- Residents in Middleborough have voted to make the foul-mouthed among them pay fines for swearing in public.

At a town meeting Monday night, 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."

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.

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.

Fined for free speech?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.

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