Readers of this blog, fellow Morons from the Ace of Spades HQ, and my followers on Twitter know that, as a rule, I don't curse. Even "Barack Obama is a stuttering clusterf*ck of a miserable tyrant" is edited. I do this simply because I do it. I'm just not much into cursing.
That said, when I heard about this, I first rolled my eyes. Then I thought about it for two minutes, and became horrified. The town of Middleborough, MA has just voted to make swearing in public a ticket-able offense carrying a fine of twenty dollars. They did this because the police were not enforcing the current by-law which forbade cursing.
There are three major problems with this. First: "Barack Obama is a stuttering clusterf*ck of a miserable tyrant," is Constitutionally protected Free Speech. If I spoke it aloud, now, in Middleborough, I would be fined for engaging in Constitutionally protected Free Speech. Seriously.
Second: How is "public profanity" defined? Is there a list of words that cannot be spoken? The problem with that is that many words we view as "profane" are also technical terms. The further problem with that, is where does it leave euphemisms? Certainly everyone knows what you're really saying when you say, "Eff you!" or "heck." So if you're communicating the same idea as a profane word, why is it any different than just using the word? So what good would a list do?
On the other hand, how else would you enforce it? Would you say, "Oh, if someone is offended, it must have been an offensive word?" Yeah, there's no way on earth that could be abused. You'd think Massachusetts, home of Salem, would be wise to that kind of thing.
Third: What actual effect does this ordinance have? It certainly won't stop public swearing; too many people swear as a matter of course. The only effect it can possibly have is to make yet one more thing "illegal." It can only add yet one more layer to the ever-growing police state.
Perhaps the worst part is that "the citizens," slightly more than 1% of the actual population, but the only ones who voted, voted more than 3-1 in favor of the new ordinance. Now, that doesn't really surprise me. The people who wanted it would be the ones most likely to know of the ballot initiative, and they would be the ones most likely to show up. What frustrates me to no end, however, is that people who should have been horrified by the precedent this sets either didn't know about it, or couldn't (or wouldn't) think far enough into the future to see the potential problems.
We cannot stop the growth of the Police State if we sit apathetically at home. We cannot regain the freedoms being taken from us, day by day, unless we vote, unless we are active, and unless we engage our representatives. Be informed about issues in your area, and G-d D*mn it, Vote!