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Off the Beaten Patch: Swearing Will Cost You, Literally

Curse words will cost you $20 in one New England town.


Be careful what you say in the town of Middleboro, Mass., because residents just voted in favor of making swearing in public a fineable offense of $20.

Scholars debate whether the law is constitutional, while others simply wonder how enforcable it is. Some teens in town are also asking the police department for a list of offending words.

The unique town law has certainly attracted lots of attention. Here's what some folks in our neighborhood have to say about it:

Bonnie Vail: "Good thing I don't live there, haha!!"

Kristin Ingersoll: "Overriding the freedom of speech? Not cool."

Rae Mioli-Suba: "Hahahahahahahahahahah, I'd be broke."

Sandie Solimene: "Sounds like the Seinfeld finale."

Randi Arbitell: "Ridiculous."

Maria Mahon: "What year is this, 2012 or 1012? They will never be able to enforce it."

Robert Chieppo: "I'd have to look into bankruptcy if I lived there. It will never work."

Anne K. Mulligan: "Having worked in a few ad agencies, profanity doesn't bother me. I think that there are much worse blights out there."

Josh Spivack: "Communist Russia, MA ... it's a nice little town."

Tami Higgins: "I don't think they need to fine people, people just need to realize swearing does not make you sound cool. I have six kids, I don't like them hearing it but I don't feel the government/state should fine away our freedoms."

Jeanette Pinho: "It's aimed at young adults/teens swearing excessively in public places, especially their downtown area, where business owners feel it is making their customers uncomfortable and affecting business. They aren't going to fine someone for swearing at a restaurant table who is having a private conversation (at least that is what they say). I work with 14-20 year olds trying to get them ready for work & college and their language is AWFUL, they swear so much 1/2 the time they don't know they are doing it anymore & they don't comprehend how that will affect them in the job market. I'm all for free speech, but the bill passed 187-50, so obviously the town feels they have a problem."

Mandy MacKay: "I would hope teenagers would be fined with community service so their parents wouldn't be stuck with paying the ticket."

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