Massachusetts Town's Fine for Swearing in Public: $20

Keep it clean in public, folks
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 12, 2012 8:28 AM CDT
Massachusetts Town's Fine for Swearing in Public: $20
Dagnabbit!   (?andrewrennie)

(Newser) – Say it with us: "Oh, fudge." Anyone traveling to Middleborough, Mass., will want to make sure such phrases are part of their vocabulary, because anyone caught swearing in a public area will now be slapped with a $20 fine. Town residents voted 183-50 last night in approval of the proposal, which is intended to target the loud and obscene who turn the air blue in public parks and downtown areas; quiet curses in private conversations are apparently still OK.

But what about the First Amendment? It's a little murky: The Supreme Court has previously ruled the government can't bar public speech due to profanity, but state law currently allows 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, reports the AP. The Boston Globe notes that a few other fines are joining the town's ranks: $50 for littering or shoveling snow into the street, and $300 for smoking pot in public. (Read more swearing stories.)

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