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. Kris

    If I can be given a ticket for using "foul" language, then some people should be ticketed for being "foul". Certain language offends certain people, and it will always be that way. Some peoples' appearance offends me, but I can't have them ticketed for that. Unfortunately, being ignorant is not a crime......but saying what's on your mind can be a crime in that town. Give me a break. There are far more important things in this society to be worried about that what language people use. Grow up, toughen up and focus your efforts on something a little more timeworthy people!!

    June 12, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. techengineer

    I can understand how people get upset when foul language is being used in public. I, myself, sometimes use foul language to vent my frustrations or just to be funny. But I tell my friends and family while we are out in public to watch their mouths while around others, especially children. I can't tell you how many times I actually have asked a stranger to watch their mouth around my younger family relatives while out in public. Most of the time, they apologize. but there are those few who basically could care less. And if someone files a complaint about someone continuously using foul language when asked to stop, then the guilty party needs to prepared to deal with the consequences.

    June 12, 2012 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. TxDon

    No worries, there are only seven words that are not allowed, and George Carlin provided those years ago...

    June 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Zen

    Yep .. it's an EFFIN FREE country. Doesn't mean you have to be a d*ck. There are consequences to how you conduct your life, you know.

    June 12, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  5. igoryok

    Does that include using the lord's name in vain? What about ethnic slurs? What if I am reading the supreme court decision which decided on George Carlin's use of the 7 dirty words on the airwaves and as the result say these words out loud? How will the police know the difference?

    June 12, 2012 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Mikey Vegas

    What happened to freedom of speech?

    June 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. I agree with the fine

    I swear, I swear among my friends... I swear when trying to put electronics together, I swear profusely while driving... but I'm aware that, when I'm in public, swearing is offensive. The right to free speech is one thing. Trying to avoid accountability for acting like an @$$ in public is not a matter of free speech - it's a matter of being respectful and civilized. TRY IT, AMERICA.

    June 12, 2012 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • leb1281

      If you censor people, it is no longer free speech. The first amendment is supposed to protect all speech. Not just the speech that people are comfortable with.

      June 12, 2012 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Cason

      What makes swearing so profane again? Shoot. I can think of a darn reason why it should be.

      June 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  8. johnson

    But i said mother Trucker. 🙂

    June 12, 2012 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sweetkimberly

    Can't wait to hear what Seth McFarland says.

    June 12, 2012 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Justice (usually) does not prevail

    Well the city decided this by vote. If you don't like it don't visit or move somewhere else.

    June 12, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. beuregard

    Where were the town legal advisers when this idea was floated. Long established that cuss words are free speech and cannot be generally proscribed. There is a case history where you can even call a cop a "F...g Pig" and cannot be charged, at least for that. They probably will still book you for something like disturbing the peace. Somebody is sure to take his fine through the courts and it will get costly for the town. Costly for the miscreant as well, but there are folks with money to burn that love that sort of issue.

    June 12, 2012 at 4:59 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Peter Zaragoza

    Between this and Bloomberg's ludicrous soda ban we are slowly allowing the fascists to take away our rights, one right at a time.

    June 12, 2012 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Me3

    So the police now have something else to patrol and give tickets for. What happens when an offender does not pay the ticket? Do they go to jail? Now this person becomes a burden on the taxpayers because they swore in public. The more stupid laws we have like this the more bloated our penal system becomes. It is sad that people try to use law to force their version of good manners on everybody. We all end up paying for it in the end and I am pretty sure that people will continue to swear in public unless the cops are around. Let's keep our police available to patrol for real criminals rather than busying themselves chasing after bad manners.

    June 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm | Report abuse |
  14. BrendaLea

    My freshman english teacher
    Told everyone
    Of his students
    That truly intelligent people dont have to swear
    because it is possible to get
    Ones' point across without
    Using profanity.
    He then taught
    Us how to interpret exactly
    What each word or profane
    Phrase meant....
    Perhaps the people who are
    Tired of hearing
    All of the
    Profanity simply
    Wish to hear some unpolluted
    Intelligent use of
    Language which
    Allows an average person
    To say exactly
    What they mean vs using a whole
    Bunch of profane nonsense simply
    Due to anger. I
    Think it's to be
    Commended!!
    This isnt a policy
    That attacks the
    Bill of rights. It's
    A challenge to
    Encourage
    Individuals to
    Expand ones
    Personal
    vocabulary....
    Rise to the
    occasion!

    June 12, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • PatS

      @BrendaLea... who the F cares what your freshman year English teacher thinks? Was that supposed to persuade us that this town can violation our protections of free speech? lmao. I can't wait until there's a lawsuit and they either fold immediately or go to court and get crushed. Idiots. Btw, did your billiant teacher teach you that "English" is spelled with a capital E? And when he told "everyone" of his students, did he teach you that it's "every one"? You're dumb and so was your teacher.

      BrendaLea wrote:
      "My freshman english teacher
      Told everyone
      Of his students
      That truly intelligent people dont have to swear
      because it is possible to get
      Ones' point across without
      Using profanity."

      June 12, 2012 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • PatS

      errors.

      June 12, 2012 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • JoJo

      When you
      Write like you
      Think you're
      Composing some sort of
      Poem
      On a forum board
      It's hard to give
      Much credit to any of
      Your English teachers.

      June 13, 2012 at 11:01 am | Report abuse |
  15. Sean

    This country isn't as free as they make it sound, from stupid fines like this to Home Owners Associations, to the constant red-tape of starting a business...I'm fully convinced this country is more restrictive than it's ever been...

    June 12, 2012 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
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