So much for 'free' speech: Mass. town orders fines for swearing

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Associated Press

Posted on June 11, 2012 at 10:44 PM

Poll:
Should public profanity be subject to a fine?
Middleborough, Massachusetts

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MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — Residents in Middleborough have voted to make the foul-mouthed 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.

Supporters say the proposal isn't meant to censor casual or private conversations, but instead crack down on loud profanity in downtown areas and public parks.

Middleborough has had a bylaw against public profanity since 1968. But it's rarely, if ever, been enforced, because it essentially makes swearing a crime.

The new proposal would decriminalize profanity, allowing police to write tickets as they would for traffic violations.

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