Middleborough, Massachusetts has found a way to raise revenue for the town’s budget and to quiet the loud, foul, mouthed teenagers that are disturbing the rest of the public, by implementing a $20 fine for public swearing.
The town’s police chief made a proposal for the fine, and the residents, with a population of just over 23,000, approved the “swear jar” measure Monday night by a vote of 183-50.
Local officials wanted to make it clear the new law was not to censor 1st amendment rights in casual or private conversations while out in public but rather to crack down on loud, profanity-laden language used by teens and other young people in the downtown area and public parks, that is a public nuisance.
The police will now issue citations to anyone they feel is using profanity in public places that are deemed to be disturbing to others. They say profanity will be treated like public drinking or littering — a nuisance, they’ll ticket — but not something they’re targeting.
“I’m really happy about it,” Mimi Duphily, an auto parts store owner, said after the vote. “I’m sure there’s going to be some fallout, but I think what we did was necessary.”
Duphily explains that the teens often sit on downtown benches and are disrespectfully loud. “They’ll sit on the bench and yell back and forth to each other with the foulest language. It’s just so inappropriate,” she said.
“It’s not going to be just someone walking down the street dropping the f-bomb, it’s going to be when you’re actually making it uncomfortable for everyone else,” Duphily said.