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. Dowgirl

    Didn't the SCOTUS already rule on this? Some guy cursing from his canoe, during a lazy, boozy trip down the river?

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

      Good point. I think they did. Any links?

      June 12, 2012 at 6:43 pm | Report abuse |
  2. William fitzell

    They should start at sporting events

    June 12, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  3. bigbone

    I'm from Massachusetts, and embarrassed by this story. The US government need to stop controlling one's behaviors, eating habits, romantic relationships and sports scandals, and focus on resolving problems that are destroying the USA (e.g. unemployment, poverty, drunk driving, violent crimes).

    June 12, 2012 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      This isn't the US government ... It's some dinky town in your home state.

      June 12, 2012 at 6:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • methuselah

      It isn't the U.S. Government doing this Bigbone, it is the city.

      June 12, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Tom

    This city will spend 100 times more money trying, in vain, to defend this law in court than they will ever collect in fines. Whatever happened to free speech?

    June 12, 2012 at 6:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • stainpouch

      Oh, it's still free, except that now it'll cost you twenty bucks.

      June 12, 2012 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Daniel

    This is the dumbest thing I've heard. What next? You'll be fined for leaving the toilet seat up?

    June 12, 2012 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
  6. me

    pretty soon parents will have the freedom of having children and giving them to the government to raise what a wonderful world

    June 12, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. D

    I am from Massachusetts as well, and not from Middleboro, nor do I like their idea of trying to restrict our 1st Amendment rights. If I want to say Bucky Bleeping Dent, I better be allowed to say Bucky Bleeping Dent whenever I want unless I am in a private place that has rules saying otherwise. If I am in a bar, sports venue, etc. that has specific policies against profanity in public that is fine, but when I am out on the street in public I should be able to say whatever I want according to the 1st Amendment.

    June 12, 2012 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Bob

    Whats next, telling us when we can use the restroom, ridiculous!!!

    June 12, 2012 at 6:23 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeremy

    This so violates are freedom of speech!

    June 12, 2012 at 6:30 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Wilson

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I think that they can give you a ticket for "disturbing the peace", which over-the-top public swearing would fall under, well at least up here in Canada. Here, it is a rarely enforced law, similar to "public drunkenness". Technically it is illegal to be drunk in public, including at a bar, but this is only on the books so the police can get rid of individuals that can't handle their booze, or control their language. I doubt you would get a ticket if you let a f-bomb slip at the game when your team goes down a goal, but walking by a wedding swearing your head off is ticket worthy.

    June 12, 2012 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • ConvenienceForeverFreshnessNever

      30 Helens agree...your Canadian trivia is not germane to these recent events in MA. Time to go listen to some Ray St. Germain.

      June 12, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Cynthia

    Does Mr. Bond disagree with laws for littering, killing others, driving the wrong way down a road? Sound like some NorthEast white trash is angry they can't cuss all night in the trailer.

    June 12, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • S

      Cynthia, that's offensive.

      "I may not believe in what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

      June 12, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Jake Austen

    Thanks, Middleborough, for making us a little weaker, a little less free, for making it a little easier for China to overtake us economically:
    Remember, capitalistic economies thrive most in climates of freedom and boundlessness. This new restriction may not seem like much, but it intimidates, creates a feel of menace, makes people feel a little less free, and this ripples across communities:
    Which spells DOOM for a free market society.

    China loves when benighted ignorant American towns do stuff like this cause they know it weakens us and makes us more vulnerable to stagnating as a society.

    Good job!

    June 12, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joe

      Yep – what a crock of @#%@#. They are just words. If I'm offended by someone using a random word, can I press charges? This PC crap has gone way too far (and has been going there for years). So pathetic we're using taxpayer resources for citing tickets for potty mouths. What a complete waste of time.

      June 12, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
  13. igoryok

    Does that apply to hand gestures or using words intended to form acronyms? I'm glad the police will have discretion in determining which of the words not listed by the law was offensive enough to warrant enforcement.

    June 12, 2012 at 6:38 pm | Report abuse |
  14. determined2bfit

    It's an outrage I tell you, and outrage. Good thing Massachusetts police never enforce the laws.

    June 12, 2012 at 6:44 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Patrick

    I am shocked that only 233 people voted on this issue. That should be the bigger story here.

    June 12, 2012 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike McC

      Apathy and ignorance is no excuse not to vote. Massachusetts towns by and large deploy direct democracy to vote on these issues. Failure to show up and vote on the measures is explicitly the fault of the townspeolpe. If they truly cared about this, they would have shown up.

      Now they'll pay a fine when they read what was passed and, naturally, swear.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Report abuse |
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