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Should swearing in public be a fineable offence?

A town in Massachusetts has decided to force the foul-mouthed among them to pay fines for swearing in public. Should we follow suit?

Image: stockicide via Creative Commons/Flickr

RESIDENTS OF A Massachusetts town have decided not to rely on old-fashioned good manners any more, and have instead voted in favour of forcing the foul-mouthed among them to pay fines for swearing in public.

Residents of Middleborough yesterday voted 183-50 to approve a proposal from the police chief to impose a $20 fine on public profanity.

Town officials have insisted the new law will not target causal or private conversations, but will instead crack down on loud, profanity-laden language used by teens and other young people in the downtown area and public parks.

While the move has raised some questions about the First Amendment rights, which guarantees freedom of speech, Massachusetts state law also allows police to arrest anyone who “addresses another person with profane or obscene language” in a public place.

The move has made us wonder if the same law could ever work in Ireland where – let’s face it – we’re fairly partial to colourful expressions.

We’d like to know: should swearing in public be a fineable offence?

Poll Results:

No (1611)
Yes (389)
I don't know (45)

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