Swear in public? Pay $20 fine

Duncan thinks public swearing is a problem and proposes borrowing a solution from a community in Massachusetts.

I'm an older sort, but not a stick in the mud; so it's not easy for me to suggest something that restricts others' actions/speech.

However, nearly every time I'm out shopping or just tootling around Smyrna, I'm subjected to someone's loud foul mouth, usually at very high decibels and it ruins what is otherwise a fine day. The cursing is often just part of 'casual' conversation and not even a result of anger...

This morning I came across an interesting article from Business Week concerning Middleborough, Massachusett's attempt to solve their own problem along these lines:

"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."

Do you think public swearing is a problem in Smyrna-Vinings that should be fined? Sound off in the comments.

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Sarah June 13, 2012 at 09:25 PM
I live in Buckhead, but my father lives in Smyrna, so I visit each week. I worry about police spending their valuable time handing out these profanity fines, when there are much bigger problems each day. As I said, I don't live right in Smyrna, but is profanity such a big deal there? I wouldn't be surprised if Freedom of Speech issues were raised.
Kamma June 13, 2012 at 09:29 PM
WOWZA... really? The SPD would have time to do this? I think not! While an interesting concept, how would you prove the crime was committed? Would an officer have to be standing in shouting distance? Who would decide which words and at what decibel would warrant a citation?
Paul Smyrna June 13, 2012 at 09:48 PM
This isn't in Smyrna and would never happen (well I would would hope not).
Duncan June 13, 2012 at 10:04 PM
I completely agree with this and other responses to my initial post; that said, there is also a certain consideration that should be paid to "basic quality of life" matters. There's nothing wrong with a single weed..., but given enough of them over enough time, nothing else of benefit to others can grow. There's nothing wrong with music but played at over a hundred decibels within 10 feet of you in traffic jams for an hour...., it becomes intolerable, no matter the genre. It's as the old song says, "Little things mean a lot...."
Lee Sanders June 13, 2012 at 10:28 PM
1984 much?!? Paging Mr. Orwell...
Richard Steiner June 14, 2012 at 09:07 PM
What is swearing? Who defines which words are considered inappropriate? Don't we already have existing ordinances in place to deal with loud and unruly people at certain times and places?
Oscar G. June 14, 2012 at 09:38 PM
Censorship or the stiffling of someone's RIGHT to expression is never permissible. Even if we don't like what they're saying, they have an inalienable right to express themselves. Societal norms have dictated what were "acceptable" forms of expression thruout our history, however, those norms are changing, morphing, being redefined at an extraordinary rate. One needs only to look at clips of George Carlin about the "Seven Words" that you used to not be allowed to say in "polite" conversation. Now, over half of them, and more, can be found on regular cable television any day or night of the week. People are going to need to wake up and realize that we're not living in a 60's Sitcom and you will always lose when you push against someone who is simply exercising their right to Free Expression. (No matter how uncouth, discourteous and/or distasteful as it is.To You.)
Jason June 15, 2012 at 01:05 PM
I'm no tea-party member, but the notion of our govt monitoring my speech for bad words is ludicrous!
Observer June 15, 2012 at 01:49 PM
Hah! You would only need to station a single officer at CMS during recess and the city could generate enough revenue to eliminate the city property tax.
Brian June 15, 2012 at 10:10 PM
Such fines are a freedom of speech violation. They wouldn't hold up in court. Plenty examples exist - including preventing grade school children from wearing clothing. Usually when they pick a lawyer's child, they find themselves on the losing end of a civil case.
Duncan June 15, 2012 at 10:55 PM
I have absolutely no idea how the concept of "preventing grade school children from wearing clothing" fits into this conversation but on to other more salient matters; to those who think of this as a freedom of speech issue, please go back and read the entire article at its source in Massachusetts....., there's a link in the story. If I go into someone's church on a Sunday morning and start cursing a blue streak...., what will happen? You and I both know what will happen; I don't understand why there's an expected difference between maintaining the "the good peace and civility" of a church environment and being able to expect the same in the general culture.
Keith Cordell August 08, 2012 at 04:05 AM
Is this the 60's? These are words, the way people express themselves and no individual or government can censor those, unless they are incitement to violence or treason. The very idea is ridiculous and vulgar.


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