June 12th, 2012
10:58 AM ET

Massachusetts town puts $20 fine on profanity

The residents of Middleborough, Massachusetts, have had enough of this *#%@&!

And on Monday night they voted to make those who curse put their money where their potty mouths are - to the sum of $20, that is.

Police in the town of 22,000 will be writing tickets bearing fines in that amount to those who foul its public places with profanity after residents voted 183-50 Monday night that they were mad as *#%@& and weren't going to take it anymore.

Overheard on CNN.com: What the $%#;!? Choice words for town's profanity fine

"If I didn't hear 10 kids drop the F-bombs between my store and a block and half I would be shocked," local business owner Mimi Duphily told CNN affiliate WHDH. She was one of those who pushed for cops to clean up the *#%@&.

Not everyone was pleased with the plan.

“This comes under the context of trying to legislate morality or good parenting,” resident Adam Bond told those gathered at the annual town meeting Monday night, in the town that calls itself the "cranberry capital of the world."

So what words are over the line in Middlleborough?

That will be at the discretion of police, but they'll be directing their enforcement efforts at those using profanity to accost others, Officer Steven Nelson said Tuesday.

“It's not going to be just someone walking down the street dropping the F-bomb; it's going to be when you're actually making it uncomfortable for everyone else,” Duphily told WHDH.

Note that Middleborough is only 38 miles from Boston and Fenway Park, where Red Sox fans bestowed a profane nickname on New York Yankee Bucky Dent after the light-hitting shortstop homered in the seventh inning of a tiebreaker game in 1978.

Call him Bucky "Bleeping" Dent in Middleborough and it'll cost you $20.

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Filed under: Crime • Massachusetts
soundoff (500 Responses)
  1. Afro Zombie Race War

    Good!

    June 12, 2012 at 11:06 am | Report abuse |
    • booskoo

      The penalty for poor parenting should be neutering of the parents AND the offspring.

      Too many people in the world - no room for riff raff.

      June 12, 2012 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  2. Phil Spectre

    “This comes under the context of trying to legislate morality or good parenting" – Well, YEAH! If you can't do it on your own, maybe it needs to be mandated.

    June 12, 2012 at 11:13 am | Report abuse |
    • Selfish IsADisease

      PhilS – Very well said,Sir.

      June 12, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Thor

      The laws are clear in Massachusetts... if you neglect your child, then, that is Child Neglect!

      June 12, 2012 at 12:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike

      The problem is letting the government be the ones who decide what that morality is. Allow them to tell you what you cannot say and soon you'll be letting them decide what you should be eating or watching or reading.

      June 12, 2012 at 2:53 pm | Report abuse |
  3. phunk

    Guess the town attorney isn't too familiar with a little part of the bill of rights called the first ammendment. Sure hope this dumb town has enogh $$$ that they obviously want to waste on a legal battle they will most assuredly lose.

    June 12, 2012 at 11:14 am | Report abuse |
  4. Matt

    John Spartan, you are fined five credits for repeated violations of the verbal morality statute.

    June 12, 2012 at 11:17 am | Report abuse |
    • Rachel

      Exactly... this is getting scary...

      June 12, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  5. JohnnyInSNJ

    Who decides what is profane?

    June 12, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  6. Cesar The Chorizo Champ Of Chihuahua

    @Phunk – The First Amendment was instated with the idea that people were smart enough to know how to do it.. that's the only way it works. The public isn't smart enough anymore, so someone has to show them basically how not to be crappy people.

    June 12, 2012 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
    • Selfish IsADisease

      Good comment, Cesar! Well said.

      June 12, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      Nope. It applies to everyone, informed and ignorant alike. The government should not police speech of this sort.

      June 12, 2012 at 11:30 am | Report abuse |
    • PR1958

      Right, because our founding fathers never swore so they intended that to be legislated? Give me a break

      June 12, 2012 at 11:57 am | Report abuse |
    • JoJo

      No, rights are rights for everyone, not for an elite few that meet particular arbitrary criteria.

      June 12, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Rachel

    Okay, this is really ridiculous... I mean I don't condone using bad language in public, but fining people? And leaving to the discretion of the police? That sets a very dangerous precedent.

    June 12, 2012 at 11:19 am | Report abuse |
  8. Chris

    Call him Bucky "Bleeping" Dent in Middleborough and it'll cost you $20.
    You can't even say the word Bleeping any more?

    June 12, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
  9. dvels advocate

    I guess its appropriate that the 1st admentment is the one they strip us of 1st!

    Sad Day in America....
    Viva la Revolution!!!

    June 12, 2012 at 11:20 am | Report abuse |
    • Phil Spectre

      Freedom requires a little bit of responsibility and everyone acting in good faith. When people can't do that, they should have a responsibility imposed upon them called being reprimanded.

      June 12, 2012 at 11:22 am | Report abuse |
  10. Kahuna

    The first time someone challenges this in court it will be struck down. "What is profane" is very subjective.

    June 12, 2012 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
    • Sandusky Sandwich

      I'm pretty sure the F Bomb is a universally agreed upon to be a profane word.

      June 12, 2012 at 11:23 am | Report abuse |
  11. PEDO BEAR

    So, rather than being available for actual issues, the police are going to be bogged down responding to the dreaded 9-1-1 calls involving cursing and writing $20 tickets. What a waste of tax payer funds. Looks like Middleburough going to hell in a handbasket. Don't worry Middleburough, you're $20 check is in the mail. 😉

    June 12, 2012 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • John

      @PEDO BEAR – "you are $20 check is in the mail?" Learn how to write.

      June 12, 2012 at 11:32 am | Report abuse |
    • PEDO BEAR

      Me no how two write pretty well, you I thank. 😛

      June 12, 2012 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
  12. anandine

    And the cops say they will selectively enforce the law to fine only people who use taboo words in a way they don't like. What could go wrong there?

    June 12, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. lance corporal

    morality laws??????
    let me know when we can beat women in the streets for daring to raise their eyes to a man

    the radical right christian taliban...... errrrr wait a minute I thought it was obama pushing the nanny state that knows best for us???? but it seems it's the radical right types that want to control speech......... wasn't that one of the most important rights to our founders???

    it just seems un-american

    June 12, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  14. idunno

    You have the freedom of speech, as long as your speech has been preapproved by the government.

    June 12, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
  15. snapnecklife

    I really hope Middleboro resident realize how asinine this whole thing is. Things like this are subjective and, at best, need to allow people to use, gasp, discretion in how they choose to use "profanity". Realistically, "profanity" has been adopted into the modern lexicon, to the point where it's barely even noticeable anymore. That said, Middleboro PD are gonna be chasing people over $20? Come on, son.

    June 12, 2012 at 11:28 am | Report abuse |
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