State to Town: Sorry, People Are Allowed to Swear
Massachusetts AG asks Middleborough to scrap rule
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 9, 2012 4:21 PM CDT
In this 2007 file photo, pedestrians stroll through downtown Middleborough, Mass.   (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)

(Newser) – Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley is recommending that the town of Middleborough change or repeal a bylaw that prohibits public profanity. The town approved a proposal this summer that would allow police to enforce the 1968 ban by imposing a $20 fine on people who engage in loud swearing in public.

The proposal came in response to concerns by merchants about profanity-laden language used by teenagers and other young people in the downtown area and public parks. But Coakley said today the original bylaw appears to violate First Amendment guarantees of free speech, and she called on Middleborough to take it off the books or amend it.

Copyright 2016 Newser, LLC. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. AP contributed to this report.

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Showing 3 of 33 comments
Xisiuizado
Oct 10, 2012 3:40 PM CDT
"...appears to violate First Amendment guarantees of free speech..." APPEARS? Seriously? Denying any speech that does not directly defame or otherwise affect someone else negatively is the entire purpose of the amendment.
reallybig
Oct 10, 2012 12:18 PM CDT
Where's Al Sharpton? ..They can't ban Ebonics, and RAP music, that's unconstitutional.
right2dave
Oct 10, 2012 8:52 AM CDT
Civility has long ago gone out the window. Do your children and those of other need to hear this language. I use it. but not to adults or children are offended by it. Of course be offensive is hip.