Mass. Town Weighs $20 Fines for Swearing in Public

Associated Press

MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Washing one's mouth out with soap may not be a modern day answer to curbing foul-mouthed language, but officials in one Massachusetts town say taking a bite out of the wallet might be an incentive to keep it clean.

The Middleborough town meeting was to vote Monday on a proposal from the police chief to impose a $20 fine on public profanity.

Supporters say the proposal isn't meant to censor casual or private conversations, but instead crack down on loud profanity in downtown areas and public parks.

Middleborough has had a bylaw against public profanity since 1968. But it's rarely, if ever, been enforced, because it essentially makes swearing a crime.

The new proposal would decriminalize profanity, allowing police to write tickets as they would for traffic violations.

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