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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Talk ain't cheap

Hey, what about the !@#$%^& First Amendment?

The residents of Middleborough, Mass., are tired of foul language, so they're decided to do what many parents do -- implement a swear jar.

According to the Associated Press, residents voted 183 to 50 in favour of a proposal by the police chief to impose a $20 fine on cursing in public.

Actually this is a scaling back of sorts. It was already illegal to swear in Middleborough, but the law was never enforced because nobody wanted to go through the hassles involved in charging cussers with a crime. The new citation-lvel offense, akin to a traffic ticket, is much more likely to be actually used.

Residents aren't upset about cursing in general but seem to be especially dismayed by hordes of young people casually tossing around vulgarisms as part of their everyday speech. That's the problem with the anti-cussing fines. If "crude and offensive" language is used so routinely that it loses its shock value, it isn't really cursing. And because the measure doesn't actually specify which words are deemed forbidden, subjective judgment will be called upon. Can't obey the law if you know exactly what it is. Even if the Supreme Court hadn't largely protected public vulgarity -- and it did -- this would be a spectacularly stupid idea.


Tue, 06/12/2012 - 11:52am

Swearing shows a lack of control and decor.  I can swear, but I'm more impressed by someone who does not.

The English language can be confusing and sometimes fun.  I hope the bass turds in Middleborough are careful.