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Massachusetts Town Bans Swearing, Charges $20 Per Swear Word

Joe Raedle, Getty Images

Anyone remember the swear jar, when you had to put a dollar in the charge every time you said a swear word? That’s pretty much what’s going on in a small Massachusetts town, and some people are [expletive] mad about it.

The citizens of Middleborough, Massachusetts overwhelmingly voted (183-50) in favor of decriminalize a bylaw against profanity. The new law will give police officers the power to issue people a $20 fine for swearing.

Residents in Middleborough have voted to make the foul-mouthed among them pay fines for swearing in public.

At a town meeting Monday night, residents voted 183-50 to approve a proposal from the police chief to impose a $20 fine on public profanity.

Officials insist the proposal was not intended to censor casual or private conversations, but instead to crack down on loud, profanity-laden language used by teens and other young people in the downtown area and public parks.

Now you know this is going to come under fire from freedom of speech activists, and personally, I don’t blame them. I’m not a big fan of profanity, but if someone wants to use it, then that’s their choice. And when you consider that this action was aimed specifically at teens, I get the feeling this whole thing is just a bunch of old farts who wanted to get the kids to shut up, and I don’t see it lasting too long.

What do you think? Is a ban on profanity a violation of freedom of speech?

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