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. Save Us Jeebus!

    Lord. Welcome to America! We'll train our young men and women to drop bombs on people in foreign lands, but we'll fine you if you use a naughty word! Who are we?

    June 12, 2012 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Save Us Jeebus!

      Wait...I guess I should've said "Welcome to Amercia!"

      June 12, 2012 at 3:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Norman Smith

    For the misinformed, this country has always had laws pertaining to public decency. Currently there are a total of 9 states in the US that have laws on the books pertaining to obscene language. I have not had the time to look them all up but here is one from the state of Texas that has existed for years and is actually used. Please educate yourselves because it is classified as disorderly conduct as it is in most states.

    Tex. Penal Code Ann. §§ 42.01(a)(1), 49.02(a) (West Supp. 2007) concerning disorderly conduct - the statute provides: “a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally or knowingly: (1) uses abusive, indecent, profane, or vulgar language in a public place”

    June 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • Troy

      Care to find and post an instance where that law was enforced recently? By itself, not as a way of adding more to a 'disturbing the peace' arrest?

      June 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Leucadia Bob


    June 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Jason

    What about the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights ?? even if the words coming out are offensive still its protected speech !!

    June 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Troy

    Well, if preventing people from being offended is a valid reason to limit the First Amendment, I expect all Repubs to back gun control laws that prevent the sale of any guns but bolt-action hunting rifles, and require hunters to submit to drug tests before entering the woods each day. Those rifles would be more than enough for home defense, so don't bleat to me about that. After all, the Second Amendment just states that we have a right 'to bear arms', not what kind of arms are allowed, right?

    Or how about we leave both amendments alone and people stop writing laws that will cost their community thousands in legal fees should they ever be challenged?

    June 12, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • QS

      Challenged as they will and should be!

      June 12, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Report abuse |
  6. hcn

    No matter what people think about profanity, this violates freedom of speech protections. If Phelps and the WBC are allowed to spew their filth freely or Terry Jones can burn Qurans and hang effigies of the president under the protection of the First Amendment, then people should be able to use whatever language they want in public without being fined for it.

    June 12, 2012 at 3:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. QS

    "I never liked you. You know why? You don't curse. I don't trust a man who doesn't curse. Not a "f%&*" or a "s%&*" in all these years. Real men curse."

    – Police Captain from "Falling Down"

    June 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  8. jbird68

    Several courts have already said its protected speech, I would appeal the ticket, and wouldnt pay these idiots a dime until the appeals process completed.

    June 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jj

      zero class. If I'm walking with my daughter and someone drops the f bomb in front of her screw the ticket. I'll kick the snot out of them! Problem solved

      June 12, 2012 at 3:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • PanzerJager

      In Soviet America we tell you what to say!

      June 12, 2012 at 4:10 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Josh

    A town in PA along the Delaware River did this same thing, a few years ago. They didn't want to hear people yelling profanity while shooting the rapids.

    June 12, 2012 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Todd

    Im so happy they are getting that S@#T under control!!

    June 12, 2012 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  11. p-body

    i can run pretty fast so I will curse and run away.

    June 12, 2012 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. AGeek

    Interesting, given this is in clear violation of the 1st amendment and has been court-tested before. There is no more obligation to pay the fine than there is to bow and kiss the mayor's ring.

    June 12, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bateleur

      I agree with AGeek. This is in violation of the 1st amendment. Besides unless we became a police-state [literally] and had a policeman standing on EVERY single corner of EVERY single street, then how could they tell when they had to fine a person for having heard them curse unless they had better hearing than a Ferengi or every American citizen snitched on the other[s] and called the police. 911 would be overwhelmed in minutes and probably no longer give a d***.

      June 12, 2012 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. QS

    Gay rights groups get flack day in and day out from conservatives claiming they shouldn't have to be so PC in regards to how they refer to gay people....leave it to conservative hypocrisy to make the leap that they shouldn't have to be so PC in regards to what they say to others, but others better believe that they need to be more PC around conservatives who seem to have the market cornered on being prudes!

    June 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Garrett

    this is awesome! I wish every town had this... When i walk down the street with my kids the level of "unclassiness" is astonishing... my kids are 5, 3 and 1 and they will drop the f bomb right in front of them... frigin dirtbags..... its really a sign of immaturity to me.

    June 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. CNNuthin

    Does this extend to wearing profanities? Holding signs? Perhaps playing music in public that has profanities. Police Discretion, sure. They will only use it against people they are arresting. Who wants to be the first to challenge that statement?

    June 12, 2012 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
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