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Michigan Town Issues $200 Fine for Swearing

shutterstock_57708913What the flaming heck is going on in Brighton, Michigan? If you curse near one of their city-owned playgrounds, the cops will give you a ticket and a steep fine. That just burns my biscuits.

Colin Andersen, age 19, swore at a police officer for giving his buddy a skateboarding ticket. (I guess skateboarding is a crime after all.) For some reason Andersen was surprised that the officer didn’t approve and was shocked to receive a ticket and a $200 fine for disorderly conduct.

“What got me to start arguing a little bit, they were asking all of us to leave because he got a ticket,” Andersen said. “That’s not fair. We’re just standing around.”

Brighton Police Chief Tom Wightman said it’s OK for teenagers to hang out downtown, and the city doesn’t have a law prohibiting certain words.

“That’s fine if they want to behave and use the facility like anybody else,” Wightman said. “It’s when they misbehave (that) it becomes an issue. We’re going to be watching.”

…Andersen said he doesn’t think it was right to issue him a ticket without a warning. If he had been warned, he would have listened to the officer.

“I would have respected his authority,” he said.

Sounds like a lot of horsepuckey to me, Colin.

Even before I had kids, public swearing around children annoyed the H-E-double-hockey-sticks out of me. My Navy days taught me words that would make a carny’s eyes water, but kids don’t need to hear that razzle-frazzit at a playground.

In a country where free speech reigns, should public swearing be illegal? Police are allowed to enforce community standards, but is it overkill to fine a potty-mouth a couple of C-notes for four-letter words?

Every unpleasant activity doesn’t require a frickin’ police response. If I’m at a playground and a teen is cussing, I’ll tell the cotton-headed ninny muggins to knock it off. That works nearly every time; when one parent speaks up, the rest usually pile on.

On the other hand, there are laws against other inappropriate behavior in public spaces (nudity, excessive violence, drunkenness, etc.). Perhaps a law against public swearing is consistent with those proscriptions.

What do you think, Ricochet — are anti-swearing laws great, merely acceptable, or totally wrong-headed and unconstitutional?