We see it all the time… a steady, consistent decrease in decency, politeness, and general respect for other people. Movies that are supposedly for kids are being imbedded with more and more foul language. Some folks are so rude and crude in public and have a total disregard for the people around them. One Massachusetts town has had enough, and they are moving forward on a law to crack down on public pottymouths.

As the Associated Press reported this morning, the town of Middleborough, Massachusetts is “fed up with public swearing” and thinks “forcing the potty-mouthed to pay up might be the right antidote.”

Residents attending town meeting in Middleborough on Monday night were scheduled to vote on whether to impose a $20 fine for public swearing. Officials insist the proposal, offered by the town’s police chief, is not intended to censor casual or private conversations, but instead crack down on loud, profanity-laden language used by teens and other young people in the downtown area and public parks.

“They’ll sit on the bench and yell back and forth to each other with the foulest language. It’s just so inappropriate,” said Mimi Duphily, a store owner and former town selectwoman.

Duphily, who runs an auto parts store, is among the downtown merchants who think it’s time to take a stand against the kind of swearing that can make customers uncomfortable.

What do you think? Is this an infringement on free speech? I don’t know about you, but it just drives me absolutely crazy when I take my kids to a movie and hear bad language. When I hear adults swearing and being vulgar in front of them, it makes me even more upset. HELLO! Can’t you see there are kids around. And even if there weren’t, isn’t it possible to carry on a conversation any more without going into the gutter?

Middleborough, a town of about 20,000 residents perhaps best known for its rich cranberry bogs, has had a bylaw against public profanity since 1968. But because that bylaw essentially makes cursing a crime, it has rarely if ever been enforced, officials said, because it simply would not merit the time and expense to pursue a case through the courts.

The proposed ordinance would decriminalize public profanity, allowing police to write tickets as they would for a traffic violation. It would also decriminalize certain types of disorderly conduct, public drinking and marijuana use, and dumping snow on a roadway.

In an update to this story, MyFoxDC.com reports that the ordinance did indeed pass.

Members voted 183-50 to grant police the power to issue $20 civil tickets to anyone who publicly “accosts” another person verbally with profanity.

Middleborough Police chief Bruce Gates told The Wall Street Journal that he was not targeting ordinary swear words with the new provision, like an understandable expletive uttered after a Red Sox loss.

So there it is… Middleborough’s anti-pottymouth law. Is it necessary? Aren’t people adult enough to realize others may not want to hear filth pouring out of their mouths? One would think…

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