Massachusetts Town Considers $20 Fines For Swearing In Public
Middleborough, MA doesn’t want loud, profane discussions in public.
Officials insist the proposal, offered by the town’s police chief, is not intended to censor casual or private conversations, but instead 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.
The proposed ordinance gives police discretion over whether to ticket someone if they believe the cursing ban has been violated.