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. Jonathan Cowell

    see first adment is freedom of speech. Now they have taken that right away from us. Might as well just throw all the rights away that we have. Might just take us in an alley and shoot us in the head if we look at some one the wrong way.

    June 12, 2012 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  2. rdeleys

    So what's wrong with a bit of vulgarity? When it's creative it's especially funny.

    June 12, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  3. DB Lovett

    Crap, poop, fornicate, dad-gum it, those freakin' bastages... what the flip are those bone-heads (any euphemisms for this?) thinking?

    June 12, 2012 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Wendy

    There is no way I would be ticketing folks for profanity. First off, who gives a &%$#@! And well, that would make me a hypocrite! LOL

    June 12, 2012 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mainer

    Leave it to the Mass-holes to @%#$* all over free speech. Typical.

    June 12, 2012 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Will

    Is the mayor of this town Adolf Hitler???

    June 12, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bob

    Apparently this town doesn't have a City Attorney. The use of profanity in public has already been decided by the Supreme Court in Cohen v. California decades ago. Unless the use is formed in the context of "fighting words" profanity is a First Amendment right to free speech. Additionally, any police officer that enforces such an ordinance is in violation of clearly established law under 42 USC 1983 and subject to civil liabilities along with city officials.

    June 12, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
  8. James

    Good Luck getting 20 dollars out of my 5 year old who has dropped the F bomb at daycare numerous times.

    June 12, 2012 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
    • woodysr

      Wonder where your five-year old learned that word? Sadly, some parents today use the "free-range child" method. i.e., let them do what ever they want and strive to be their pal, their confidant and companion. Being a parent is so lame!

      June 12, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Report abuse |
  9. porkchoplynn

    Reminds me of Demolition Man: You are fined $20 for violation of the verbal morality statute.

    June 12, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  10. guido ambrosi

    town is setting itself for a law suit, the first person ticketed will sue for violation of his freedom of speech. bad move on the part of this town. its opening the door to lawsuits. can they afford that.

    June 12, 2012 at 7:57 pm | Report abuse |
  11. c

    What are they going to do about TV and Movie in that state then???? Half the damn channels on tv today a words of curse, don't you all know that when you use curse words, you become cursed. (sarc)

    June 12, 2012 at 8:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Abe Lincoln

    Every single person that voted YES on this should be arrested and tried for treason. We have our government crapping all over our civil liberties, we dont need idiotic citizens doing the same thing. So happy to see that the "United Corporations of America" way of politics is making its way to small town USA.

    June 12, 2012 at 8:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • May Flower

      Really, because my understanding was that voting yes was a vote for free speech, not a squashing of civil liberties. Please explain how being allowed to say what you want craps on civil liberties.

      June 12, 2012 at 8:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike McC

      Most New England states practice a form of direct democracy. Measures come up for votes and town residents of voting age are all eligible to vote on measures up for a vote. This is hardly a free speech issue and the cursers would lose any legal challenge. The lesson for the townfolk is, don't curse.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. BigdaddyUSA

    Sooty,the law will be thrown out when the first person challenges it. It's called Freedom of Speach, the first amendment.
    You can't override that.

    June 12, 2012 at 8:23 pm | Report abuse |
    • Con Law Student

      Profanity is not protected under the first amendment.

      June 12, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Guest

    I believe they already have laws about public obscenity and disturbing the peace.
    Still,I can see how they should be able to enforce this law on people who are swearing out loud enough for people down the block to hear them,yet I can see how some police could use this law to fine someone who is swearing in their own garage or something and they just happen to overhear,but those police would just make up a reason to harass that person without the law anyways.
    I guess overall I support this IF it is enforced in the spirit in which it is written,that is to target the loudmouth swearers who you can hear down the block anyways.For those offenses,20 dollars really isnt that much.

    June 12, 2012 at 8:25 pm | Report abuse |

      If you guys would read closer, The people who will be ticketed are the ones who spew profanity toward others making an uncomfortable situation. This is already a violation of law in most if not all states. In NY it is Disorderly Conduct and is a mandatory court hearing usually resulting in a lot more than $20. Any action that causes public alarm (profanity toward someone is aggressive and causes alarm) is a violation of NYS Penal Law. I would bet Mass has a similar law already on the books.

      June 13, 2012 at 12:21 am | Report abuse |
  15. Bill

    Yea ok for the KKK and other crazy christian to spread thier BS....but wow the f bomb does so much damage....OH wait...we are not killing each other over the f bomb? thats just over religion, about whos fantasy called god is the real fantasy...Oh never mind. Better kids swearing than kids praying...at least they won`t kill each other over it.

    June 12, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
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