Town's Fine for Public Swearing Passes by Huge Margin

Middleborough, Massachusetts has passed a law imposing a $20 fine for those caught cursing in public. The town council voted 183-50 in favor of the new law.

Cursing is a problem for many business owners in Middleborough. "It's intimidating to my customers," Paulette Lilla told CBS. "To the people who are out here downtown, and I think it's a good thing that they're doing something to try to curb it."

One of the outspoken business owners in favor of the law told CBS she was "really happy about it. I'm sure there's going to be some fallout, but I think what we did was necessary," said Mimi Duphily.

While it is unknown exactly what words will qualify for fines, Police Chief Gates says that the mere act of policing them will help improve residents' quality of life and deter behavior "that a lot of people don't want to see downtown."

The proposal comes at a time when many smaller communities are cracking down on what they deem "unruly behavior." Weston, a small town in South Florida, has officially banned dance clubs and skating rinks from its borders.

Middleborough's law came as a natural progression since residents were already complaining about noise pollution and large crowds.

"There aren't those uses in Weston, there won't be those uses in Weston, and we were never planning to allow those uses in Weston," Mayor Eric Hersh told the Sun Sentinel. "This is something that we thought would protect the city."

Back in Middleborough, Duphily is hopeful that the new ticketing system "will make them [teens] understand what is acceptable behavior and what is not. I don't care what you do in private. It's what you do in public that bothers me."

Others, however, feel that the law is a bit archaic and merely government overreaching in its authority. "Freedom of speech or legit issue?" Joe Leverone tweeted. That was a rather mild protest compared to other comments left on Twitter, which were clearly protesting the proposals by cursing as much as possible.

One user, however, posed an interesting question. "Can good morals be taught through government fines?" That comment, by Aaron Olsen, is certainly one worth considering as the bill goes into effect.