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. dotheflippinmath

    I don't know why, but I see visions of "Rumblefish" in my head..."...don't box me in...I told you not to, don't box me in." How long do you think Mickey Rourke would last in that town? Maybe he'd just rip that town a new aHHsshhoollee

    June 13, 2012 at 10:25 pm | Report abuse |
    • tgallant

      What makes you think anyone wants Mickey Rourke to stay?

      June 14, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Report abuse |
  2. cooldaddysquid23

    A community has the right to set its own standards. However, this violates the 1st Amendment right to free speech. If someone challenges this rule, it will be overturned.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:04 am | Report abuse |
  3. Sal

    Well I do believe potty mouths are getting out of hand. Not so much for the adult populations but for young teenagers. The foul language coming out of the mouths of some of these kids is disgusting. They often yell out their foul language in front of women, kids, and anyone else within hearing distance. Sure when I was a kid 70 years ago, we all swore, but quietly to each other and not yelling it out so that everyone on the whole block could hear us. We had more respect for the girls our age than to yell out nasty disgusting, filthy language like the kids of today do. The problem today is that there is no parental control over the kids today, with all the broken homes, single moms, and no father around to bust their heads. It's a societal problem today. 

    June 14, 2012 at 11:27 am | Report abuse |
  4. Robert the Robot

    So the police are going to decide which combination of letters are OK? LOL! What a joke. No compulsion to solve real problems.

    June 14, 2012 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  5. Ordinary Average American

    Curse words are to the spoken word what punctuation marks are to the written!

    What a bunch of prudes . . . .

    June 14, 2012 at 12:11 pm | Report abuse |
  6. FBOMB

    Laughable...

    June 14, 2012 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
  7. sparknut

    This is the same town that told a business owner he is in violation of zoning laws because he planted tulips in front of his business.

    June 14, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Report abuse |
  8. erica1112

    Profanity is just a way for the ignorant to express themselves, Do we all do it from time to time? Of course! But show some class, dignity, restraint, respect of others and get a clue. There is no need for it. Anyone who used profanity around me is quickly ignored.

    June 14, 2012 at 1:38 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jason B

    Makes me want to drop a big hammer on the mayor's toes. I doubt "golly gosh darn" would come out! Of course, that would probably offend someone too.

    June 14, 2012 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Solo

    Many states (usually enforced at the city or county level) are passing ordinances and laws against profanity – as it should be. I'm tired of hearing people use foul language, including teenagers, in public. Everyone has a slip now and then, but those who need every other word to be profane need to be punished if they speak this way in front of others. It's already bad enough that most people have no manners or respect towards others in society.

    June 14, 2012 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  11. cw

    Guess what folks – I'd bet this is as much about generating revenue as anything. Lots of kids swearing + fining them for doing it = easy money for a small jurisdiction in a tough fiscal environment.

    June 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Bazoing

    It is not what the American founders or their supporters intended when they gave freedom of speech. The fine should be $200.

    June 14, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • Tank

      Our forefathers were NOT protecting every childish rant a person would uncontrollably make. Our forefathers had greater respect for us than that- they expected we could and would act as adults- thus the big experiment of giving us more control over our own lives. They did believe that one should not be punished or controlled for speaking up against the KING or ones government. In fact, they protected speech of relevance and intelligence and self-control. They did not seek to protect our childish ways and our own selfish wishes . But then, children can break every toy and tool by misusing it as we prove we are still very capable of doing. Is this a GOOD law? BAD laws are created when individuals cannot control themselves and act in self interest more than community interest. Now we REQUIRE our government to tell us children how we must act. Expect more of this and less freedom- that is what we are demanding by how we act.

      June 15, 2012 at 9:02 am | Report abuse |
    • mike k.

      I'm guessing you're one of those people that marketers entice with the phrase "family friendly."
      The rest of us interpret that phrase as, "don't go– everyone's kids are invited and nobody's watching them."

      June 21, 2012 at 7:08 am | Report abuse |
  13. truthfulster@gmail.com

    I personally believe that cursing has gotten completely out of hand and agree with trying this out in a town like Middleboro, I don't believe this will stop anything unless a policeman is on foot walking the beat in their town. If the police are in cars they will never get to where the infraction took place to write a ticket.The kids will now curse just to see the police run there and they'll be nobody just someone who is complaining of a curser. I doubt that the police will send an artist to draw a picture of the criminal and anyone picked up will just deny that they don't know what their talking about. It'll end up being a circus with many lawsuits against the town and it's police force.

    June 15, 2012 at 9:14 am | Report abuse |
    • bearfoot

      That is idiotic at best.

      Just because you don't like it doesn't mean that it's not protected speech. If you go down that slope where do you stop?

      June 18, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
  14. Steeb

    This is this just a waste of taxpayers money for paying the cops to write tickets for this. first the police will have to work overtime in order to keep wiriting those tickets, then they will have to hire more copos to write even more tickets. They should just invest in installing swear jars on every corner. Keep the cops doing their real job, not writing b/s tickets.

    June 15, 2012 at 9:59 am | Report abuse |
  15. mique

    Now we know where all the Salem puritans moved to.

    June 15, 2012 at 10:06 am | Report abuse |
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