Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Nanny says: 'Watch your language!'

MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. (Associated Press) -- 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.

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.

[When I shared that news with Mrs. KintlaLake early this morning, she had a two-word response -- a present participle followed by a plural noun. In Middleborough it could've cost her twenty bucks, maybe forty. (I love that woman.) Read the complete AP story here.]