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. PatS

    When this town gets sued by the ACLU, it's going to cost them a fortune to defend. And they will lose for sure. They must not have heard of a little thing called the First Amendment. Free Speech is just that... free. The only time language can legally get you in trouble is when you put the safety of others at risk (shouting "fire" in a movie theater, threatening violence on someone, etc.). You don't, and can't, legislate morality. The town could appeal all the way to the U.S. Supreme court, but they will lose there, too.

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

      Especially when specific words aren't in the legislation. It is at the discretion of the police. They could theoretically write a ticket for someone speaking about ANYTHING.

      June 12, 2012 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • esoll

      If someone tells me to f-you then it puts my safty at risk. I better cross my legs and leave.

      June 12, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
    • CounterView

      If you cannot legislate morality how come its ok to have words and acts that cannot be said on television and radio?

      In this case they are not legislating WHAT you say, they are legislating HOW you say it. You can speak the same concepts and ideas with our without profanity.

      June 12, 2012 at 5:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sean

    I had an English professor once told us one can use any foul word in the dictionary, as long as one uses it correctly and knows exactly what the word means (not slang)...

    June 12, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  3. jon

    This country is getting more stupid by the day – if that is even possible.

    June 12, 2012 at 5:09 pm | Report abuse |
  4. banasy©

    There are people who use the f word as a noun, verb, and adjective...that's how they speak.
    I personally think the law is a bit silly, but the residents have spoken via their votes.

    June 12, 2012 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Ol Smoky

    I was thinking the EXACT same thing.

    June 12, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Moiphy

    WOW! I just made a comment straight off a package lable and they didn't print it. This sucks.

    June 12, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Seriously?

    And how are they going to enforce this? Oh, stay here, I am going to call a cop to write you up.....
    Or if they curse in front of a cop, they get nailed. And I am sure they will behave temporarily in the presence of the police. Lawmaker should also be practical when coming up with stupid laws. People may actually start cursing now more, just to annoy people in favor of this new law. This is crazy...

    June 12, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  8. TAK

    The world could really use George Carlin right now.

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

      Be assured -he's laughing.

      June 12, 2012 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Moiphy

    From now on we will control the horizontal, we will control the verticle. You will see and hear what we want you to hear and like it. To openly not like it is anarchy. Speaking of them, are they back in September?

    June 12, 2012 at 5:33 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mikey

    Can't be done-illegal-end.

    June 12, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. PokingBears

    Fudge! Poo! Mothertrucker! Frick! Feck! Arzebiscuit!

    Whats the process of contesting these tickets? Does the officer need proof of the profanity, or is it all he said she said?

    June 12, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Report abuse |
  12. james

    Who will write ticket for the cops?

    June 12, 2012 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  13. PumpNDump

    It'll never stick. It's unenforceable.

    June 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Report abuse |
  14. blam

    In other news – Massachusetts has outlawed spitting in public as well as flatulating with in a 50 Foot radius of another individual. Also, the word "superfluous" has been outlawed as well for "being to hard to pronunciation and we don't need hard words harming thems their children."

    June 12, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Marley

    This is just like the "cuss jar" people have at work or wherever. I wonder what the money will be used for. If they put it back into the education system or something, that would be cool. I get frustrated at times that people us the F word in every other sentence. It just seems like they have a poor vocabulary if they can't come up with alternatives that actually fit the sentence. Doesn't really matter to me though...

    June 12, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
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