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. smartanis

    I'd love to get a ticket for swearing. Go to court, inform judge that the ticket violates the First Amendment and you will launch a federal lawsuit if held to the fine, walk out without paying a penny as the judge states that he/she will not uphold any fines handed out under this law.

    June 12, 2012 at 12:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Eddie D

      You're right on! Unless you find a judge who is as stupid as this law is. Anyone who is for this law is not a true American. America used to be about freedom.... Where did it go? Why is it like this? Is it about money? Does that town need fines to stay around. A few towns near me fund their entire police force off of traffic tickets.. It's no wonder why people are more and more hateful against the police and government.

      June 12, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  2. agR|Ppa

    Virginia Beach, Va. has had that law for quite a while. They have signs up all over the city.

    June 12, 2012 at 12:35 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Marshall

    I could have sworn the 1st Amendment granted everyone the freedom of speach? If people are protected by the 1st Amendment to protest military funerals, wear badges of honor that they never earned, or defame people for the sake of votes in an election- then surely someone who is loose with their language is protected.

    June 12, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • Johnny Lawmaker

      Maybe you should worry about your spelling vs who can cuss or not.. TOOL

      June 12, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. littlewomanintexas

    If you would not say it in front of your mother or grandmother....well I don't want to hear it in public. It's called comon decency, be considerate of others. If we were all a little more POLITE to each other ..... this would be a better nation. At least consider it.

    June 12, 2012 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • I say what I want

      Funny thing about that, I will curse in front of Grandma, Mom, children doesn't matter, you know why? Its my right as obscenity is subjective but that is how these laws stand is on the back of obscenity laws which are rediculous. I will forever be baffled by this political correctness crap. Since when was there a right to never be offended, last I checked there wasn't one, however there is the right to free speech.

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

    It was not so long ago that the common practice among parents was to wash their children's mouths out with soap for using profanity. It was also common for teachers to punish students for using profanity in the classroom through various tasks such as writing, "I will not use profanity in the classroom" 100 times on the chalkboard or by serving detention. The vast majority of adults used to correct children when they used profanity. Many of these same adults also made the attempt to censure their own language around children. In today's society, the tables have turned and for the worse. I see many adults still trying to curtail their use of profanity around children, but so very many more adults don't bother and are very open and boisterous with their profanity. Children model the behavior of the adults around them. While this idea of charging citizens $20 for cursing seems very radical and very much an infringement of civil rights, it is an attempt to make the community more civilized. Yes, it is everyone's right to use whatever language they want to, to print whatever they want to, etc. We are becoming a nation of 'teenagers' who do whatever they feel like just because they can and consider it fun when others disapprove. Adults are behaving in this fashion. Many adults are not parenting their children and seem to be of the opinion that it is up to the school teachers to teach children the values of society and how to be better citizens. While teachers can make a difference in the lives and behavior of children, their hands are tied and their authority undermined. It is the responisibility of parents to teach moral values to their children. When a community has come together, like this one has, and decided on a way to curtail an offensive and common behavior, it is seen as taking away the rights of its citizens instead of empowering parents.

    June 12, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Hot Carl

    I feel sorry for my non-democrat/liberal relatives who live in this f'd up state. Add NJ, NY, and CA to the list as well.

    June 12, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  7. maureen

    i am not a fan of foul language. Potty mouths begins at home. If parents don't give a ### then they will spew out into the public.
    thyere is no respect from our children or grandchildren. They are spoiled and they think everything has to be handed to them and that they can and do what they want.

    June 12, 2012 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Mick

    Let me guess, Jesus Christ will be a cuss word! This will definitely be going to the court system!

    June 12, 2012 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Lawrence

    What words are considered *#%@&! words. What about the bird. What about words that are offensive? Crap, Holy Smoke Batman, shazam, golly, egad, drat, darn, gosh, golly, gee, butt, hind quarters, jeepers, dang, or any body part or bodily function.

    June 12, 2012 at 12:45 pm | Report abuse |
  10. jC in Western U.S.

    If you don't like the language somebody is using, tell them. I have. It's remarkably effective.

    June 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  11. CountDollarz

    Someone will fight the fine and take this all the way to the US Supreme court, as fining someone for swearing violates our 1st amendment right to free speech, and who will fit the masssive bill?... the taxpayers. retarded

    June 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. CountDollarz

    Someone will fight the fine and take this all the way to the US Supreme court, as fining someone for swearing violates our 1st amendment right to free speech, and who will fit the masssive bill?... the taxpayers.

    June 12, 2012 at 12:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • scodyw

      Actually it does not violate the first amendment. Most people believe that "free speech" allows them to say anything that they want, but it does not. It allows people voice their opinions, and disagree with those in power; without fear of retribution. It does not allow one to be vulger, nor spew profanity.
      There is alot of speech not covered by the first amendment, which has been reconized in court. They include hate speech, inciting violence, yelling "fire!" in a crowded theater, and slander come to mind.
      I am sure you are correct, that it will be contested, but I do not forsee it being overturned.

      June 12, 2012 at 1:04 pm | Report abuse |
    • Daniel

      Opponents to this law win at summary judgment level in district court. (Thats the lowest of the low of courts). Its amazing how people who 'write laws' know nothing about the law.

      June 12, 2012 at 1:05 pm | Report abuse |
    • will g

      It is just like the other obscure laws that make no sense. Like the odd one where it is illegal to put a horse in a bath tub.

      June 12, 2012 at 1:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rebecca

    This has got to be the lowest and silliest thing I have ever heard! Come on people, what's next? What more would you like to control. Agreed with other comments... HELLO FREEDOM OF SPEECH. There is so much I could say about this but honestly it's not worth my breath. All I can do is laugh and thank god I don't live there!!!

    June 12, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Innkahoots

    So in this town your 1st amendment right will cost you $20. Will the fine double if you are caught cursing on your cell phone while driving? Another example of a self-discribed, morally superior, small group of very vocal people, screwing it up for us true Americans.

    June 12, 2012 at 12:53 pm | Report abuse |
  15. D man

    This is a violation of the first amendment rights...how is this legal? Telling people what they can and cannot stay is a big step away from democracy and a sure shot into communism.

    June 12, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Report abuse |
    • Billbo

      You obviously have NO idea what Communism is.

      June 12, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Report abuse |
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