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. cosmicsnoop

    Completely impossible to enforce. The minute you take it to court, you will win. You would have to be stupid to pay the fine.

    June 12, 2012 at 8:55 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jen

    My issue with this is two-fold:

    1) This just goes against everything that the First Amendment stands for. Granted, I highly doubt that the writers of the Bill of Rights were talking about curse words when the drafted the First Amendment. Once you start passing laws on what is and is not acceptable to say in public spaces, it's a really dangerous slipper-slope.

    2) Who's responsible if a minor gets a ticket? Most parents aren't okay with their children cursing either, but many are going to when their parents aren't around. Parents shouldn't be held responsible for their children's behavior when they aren't even present. And since many minors are the ones using this language, I'm just curious how they're going to deal with this issue.

    Overall, a REALLY BAD LAW!!!

    June 12, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mike McC

      incorrect assumption Jen. The law was enacted under freespeech. Free speech does have limits. For example, yelling "Fire!" in a movie theatre is not protected under the first ammendment. Calling someone a racial slur when the intent to demean or use the language in a derrogatory way is also not protected under the first ammendment.

      I don't care for the law, but it's perfectly valid and would stand up in the Massachusetts SJC and likely any Federal case, if one were brought.

      June 13, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. a dingo ate Trayvon Martin

    400+ comments! Holy doodle!

    June 12, 2012 at 9:10 pm | Report abuse |
  4. a dingo ate Trayvon Martin

    Holy diddly.

    June 12, 2012 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jeff

    I have there new town song:
    n unbreakable union of free republics,
    Great Rus' has welded forever to stand!
    Long live the creation of the will of the people,
    The united, mighty Soviet Union!
    Be glorious, our free motherland!
    Friendship of peoples, in brotherhood strong!
    Party of Lenin, the strength of the people,
    Leading us towards the triumph of Communism!
    Through tempests the sun of freedom shone to us,
    And the great Lenin lighted us the way.
    He raised peoples to the righteous cause,
    Inspired us to labour and to acts of heroism!
    In the victory of the immortal ideas of Communism
    We see the future of our country,
    And to the Red banner of our glorious motherland
    We shall always be selflessly true!

    June 12, 2012 at 9:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dieyoung

      lol, That is a good one.

      June 12, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jamaican rudebwai

    Whaa dis bloodclot town say – 'bout me kyant cuss .... go succkk pun ya mumma pyanti, star....dis juss fakree

    June 12, 2012 at 10:08 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Daniel Rocco_Rusk

    I don't appreciate the casual use of profanity. However, I do not want to give the police the authority to regulate socials along with another lame excuse for "probable cause."

    June 13, 2012 at 7:17 am | Report abuse |
  8. erik

    Terrorists must have passed that. We are in the USA buddy.

    June 13, 2012 at 11:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. erik

    Whats going on in the States? There are 12 States I will never visit or support now after laws they put into place... most in the last 5 years. Wake up america or are you in a coma?

    June 13, 2012 at 11:05 am | Report abuse |
    • DocCutty

      Care to share the criteria it takes to keep you out of a state? How silly...

      June 13, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Donna Leech

    Free speech has absolutely nothing to do with "trash mouth" individuals. Hopefully in the USA we will always have the previledge fo free speech. This is my personal opinion (which, because of free speech, I can relay it to you), but to me when I hear these individuals talk trash, I think how sad that no one has ever taught you manners, or common courtesy.
    Anyone who does not want to hear trach mouth talkers, should NOT have to hear it!

    June 13, 2012 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  11. Swearengen

    I love profanity, if used for effect. It is amazing to me that words can hold so much power with some folks. We really are turning into a country of soccer moms – so "outraged" by swearing and nudity. When did America become so prudish?

    June 13, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Tom Legare

    Whether or not it is or isn't free speech, it's stupid!

    June 13, 2012 at 1:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tom L

      Actually it is a step forward. Public profanity was a crime, it is now only a misdemeanor. Also, shouldn't it be necessary for the town to publicly post a list of profane words so we can know what to avoid? If the list is posted publicly will the town be subject to a fine?

      June 14, 2012 at 9:53 am | Report abuse |
    • rh

      If stupidity was subject to a fine, the government would not have a deficit and most Americans would be flatout broke.

      June 14, 2012 at 10:33 am | Report abuse |
  13. Rebecca

    Holy Puritanical New England, Batman!!!! Seriously? With everything going on in the world today and that state of affairs in our nation alone, THIS is what people are concerned about? Nevermind the fact that it tramples on free speech, or is ripe for rampant abuse by police...oh nevermind. Have fun with that, Middleborough. Let's see if it gets repealed faster than Prohibition.

    June 13, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
  14. moralguy

    I can remember my very first public ie, at home saying of a four letter word. I was outside on the back patio, and with my squirt gun, wrote the word on the cement. Dad then started comming out, and I scrambled to criss cross the word with the gun but dad read the word and scollded me big time. Yes, its funny now, but this was not exceptable back in the 1970s.

    Profanity is just some one who is LAZY with there language!! and also, not showing restraint. I do not know if the use of this language is discussed in the Bible but at least from my understanding, God does not like it. The real problem is, how do you control your self, if a anvil drops on your foot??

    BTW Robin, Thanks for showing a little sence of humor. You make me laugh at times 🙂

    June 13, 2012 at 3:16 pm | Report abuse |
    • Roger Martin

      What it means to me is if I happen to be on a trip up that way,I will pass WAY around that little town.Not that denying them any of my money will hurt their town budget ,but it'll make ME feel better knowing my money at LEAST ,didnt go there.

      June 13, 2012 at 7:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Berman

      The Bible was not written in English so therefore it is physically impossible that the Bible would have an opinion on the usage of ANY word in the English language. *facepalm*

      June 14, 2012 at 8:05 pm | Report abuse |
  15. nozz

    Please don't judge MA on this, there is significant amount of the population here that is not lame, I promise.

    June 13, 2012 at 5:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kei

      Disagree. I live close to Middleborough and have been in MA all my life. It is pretty lame.

      June 14, 2012 at 12:29 am | Report abuse |
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