Senator's bill to ban profanity

South Carolina Senator Robert Ford is attempting to outlaw profanity. Under his bill, the penalty for lewd language would be up to 5 years in prison and/or $5000 in fines. From WCBD:
Which words are exactly considered profane is still unclear, but the bill does have a list of qualifications for profanity including words or actions that are lewd, vulgar or indecent in nature.
Sen. Robert Ford pushes to outlaw profanity (Thanks, Jess Hemerly!)


  1. Fat chance. The law would be struck down immediately the first time the state tried to enforce it in court.

  2. Headline should read: “Senator Wastes Time and Money to Push Unpassable, Unconstitutional Bill to Please a Tiny Minority of Constituents” or “Diapers on Horses? Congress to Decide.”

  3. Alternate title for this post:

    The Assasssination of the First Amendment by the Coward Senator Robert Ford.

  4. 1984 this is not the change we need
    i’m sure our first admendment protects us from this passing anyway
    silly old man

  5. “5 years and/or $5000 for profanity”

    Every company I have ever worked for would be shut down within hours due to lack of un-incarcerated employees.

  6. The question that remains is five years in person with whom? Hopefully not with Robert F***… er, I mean Ford.

    It could open up a market for censoring devices that make bleeping noises whenever you say something resembling a “profane” word.

    And what would that mean for books? Holden Caulfield has had enough trouble as it is.

    Would it apply to non-English words? Maybe people would start getting interested in my French classes.

  7. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Seems clear to me… don’t they teach this stuff in S.C?

  8. For the hearing impaired, it’s possible to get an audio recording of the list, very ironically read by Senator Ford himself.

  9. I hope Senator Robert Ford chokes on a horse’s penis.

    See, in a civilized society, it’s perfectly possible to express one’s feelings (however passionate) without resorting to profanity.

  10. @Clemoh – As a southern right winger, I resent that comment. We’re not “lost” without Bush; in fact, quite a few of us are just as pleased by his departure as you! Please don’t generalize like that.

  11. He’s not a right-winger per se. He is a black democratic state senator from South Carolina. You might want to read the article or watch the video first before making cracks.

    Other than that point I agree this is absolutely silly. I shall refrain from using any curse words such as FUCK or SHIT and just say there are more important things to be dealing with than outlawing cursing.

    Of course coming up with more creative ways of telling someone off or after you stub your toe would be amusing.

  12. I’d be all for it, if they also make it part of the law that the sentencing judge has to read out a complete list of all the prohibited words to anyone violating this law.

  13. CLEMOH –

    Might want to look more into this one instead of jumping to conclusions. Cause when I checked the South Carolina government website here:
    It seems Senator Robert Ford is an African American Democrat from Charleston, SC.

    This illustrates a big problem for all political parties right now. There is so much eagerness to hate ‘the other side’ that details are overlooked. Check the facts first.

  14. Let me get this straight – 5 years in jail or $5000 fine for profane language, yet the list of profane language has not been totally defined? Who gets to be the person who compiles the list, and are they liable under the new law?

  15. I had a look at Senator Fords website. He has also sponsered a bill to outlaw droopy pants.

    I have been to South Carolina. Between the profanity law and the droopy pants law, this guy appears to be trying to lock up 50% of the male population of his state.

    “You have been convicted of a first degree droopy pants violation. The court sentences you to five years” “Five years for MuthaF*ckin pants??!”

    “Uh, make that ten with the 2nd degree profanity against an officer of the court”

  16. We need a movement to criminalize the violation of the constitution. If a cop illegally searches you, that evidence may not be used against you but nothing happens to him. This politician can write this law and the worst thing that happens is that it is overturned.

    How about making a 5 year minimum prison sentance for a government official if they violate any part of the constitution?

    – Oh did you search that car without a warrant? 5 years.
    – You championed a law violating free speech? 5 years.
    – Did you confiscate a camera because it was used to videotape an arrest? 5 years.

  17. Motherfrakin’ fraker can just frak himself until his feldercarb is bloddy, as far as I’m concerned.

    Hey, I think that’s even “legal” speech.

  18. @ BdgBill

    Sure, he was primary sponsor of anti-droopy-pants bill. But hey, at least the bill provides that “a violation is not grounds for denying, suspending, or revoking the violator’s participation in a state college or university financial assistance program”

    Also, his bill to establish a statewide curfew for minors, extends the curfew till 1:00 AM on weekends, and lets individual municipalities opt out.

    See – a real progressive, he is.

    (in fairness, he also has sponsored bills that are of real use – to take one example, protecting evicted tenants from landlords who would prevent them collecting their possessions)

  19. For his next trick, he will propose a bill that is printed on a moebius strip, such that it has no end, and the first reading of the bill will last until the dissolution of the state of South Carolina.

    This is the bill that has no end.
    It just goes on and on, my friend.
    The senate started reading it, not knowing what it was
    now they’ll continue reading it forever just because…
    (GOTO start)

  20. If you watch the video in the link, the Senator himself says, “We’re going to catch hell trying to get this through.” Ok, so that’s a pretty low level of cussing, but still.

  21. I’d be all for it, if they also make it part of the law that the sentencing judge has to read out a complete list of all the prohibited words to anyone violating this law.

    “All rise! The honorable Judge Carlin, presiding.”

  22. What a smegging load of fash! Doesn’t that wagger know if he bans curse words people will just come up with new ones? How do you even define a curse word?

    Does his ban just apply to English? Both British English and American? Any Pidgeon English dialects included in his proposed law? Can we curse that Arschloch in other languages? Will that be legal?

    Methinks Sen. Robert “Runkkari” Ford is getting in a little over his head here.

  23. (Buzz, paper slides out of the wall)

    “Robert Ford, you have been fined one credit for violation of the verbal morality code.”

  24. He must have been watching “Demolition Man” on cable the other night. Senator, Sly blew it up then, and he’s here now. Watch ur ass!

  25. If we can’t say the words, how does someone tell us what they are? Is it a surprise? Does a cop sit down and stop us when we get to a ticketable bit?

  26. In the interest of full disclosure, I am exercising my first amendment rights to free speech in the following statement.

    Fuck Robert Ford. Once upon a fucking time, we lived in a country filled with lots of cock-suckers and shitheads, but those shitheads knew that free fucking speech is our fucking right. If I want to say fuck ten times in a row, then I will, because I can say whatever the fuck I want to, whenever the fucking mood strikes. If I wanted to say shit-stained balls, or motherfucker it might not be classy, but it is certainly not a fucking felony. I’m all for protecting our fucking children though. I just seriously fucking doubt by knowing how to say fuck, shit, or any other profanity endangers anyone.

  27. You assholes want me to watch my goddamn mouth? Just how in hell am I supposed to do that? Take my mother fucking eyeballs out?

    As my grandpappy used to say.

    In eighth grade one of my classmates was dragged off of campus by an officer who wrote her a citation for saying fuck you to someone. Everybody’s immediate response- “What the fuck? How the hell do you get arrested for cussing?”

    What’s the purpose in this? Maybe he has horrible memories of soap-in-mouth.

  28. In reading the text part of the wonderful Lenny Bruce collection “Let the Buyer Beware” it was brought up that many supposedly “bad language” terms were illogical: for example, the physical embodiment of a fuck is usually a good thing. Being a bastard is pretty meaningless. Calling someone a wanker has as much actual stigma as simply being human. Imagine if someone tried to insult you by calling you a drinker, eater, or oxygen consumer

    So technically, we should be calling others “Unfucks” and “Non-wankers” if we really mean what we say.

    Today, that most kids think it’s ok to have no grasp of spelling, sentence structure, or cohesion in language is, for me, a much more upsetting bad language issue.


  29. It’s too bad Senator Ford doesn’t have a rather distinctive name like Santorum. Then we could just make his name into a swear word and encourage him to enforce the law all he likes.

  30. Isn’t this the same guy who tried to pass a law against droopy pants and said it was more important than the constitution?

  31. Reading this the archaic way, does this mean that every thing that doesn’t belong to a church would cost $5000 or 5 years of prison to own?

    It’s obviously an attempt to jack up the housing prices. That or turn 99.9% of the U.S. population into one huge prison colony.

  32. Keep in mind that this is a state where tattoo parlors are illegal and where automobile inspection isn’t required.

  33. Everyone’s focusing on it as anti-obscenity, but profanity means something else. You could be arrested for saying ‘Jesus H. Christ’, ‘hot damn’ or ‘bloody hell’.

  34. The bill was submitted and was referred to the Judiciary Committee; I’d be surprised if they approve it, much less the whole legislature approving it. So he’s really just ranting for the amusement of some of his constitutents, though he may be hoping some of the committee members will reject it on the record and can be harassed for doing so. They’d probably prefer to let it die or kill it anonymously to avoid that.

    But in response to comment #60, profanity specifically refers to using sacred terms in a profane manner, and the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment really should block establishing any particular religion’s sacred terms as deserving of special protection. Banning non-religious vulgar words and expressions, which his bill also does, violates free speech in general, but banning profanity gets the Constitutional double-whammy.

  35. just ask him politely and mildly if he wishes to make a fool of himself before the whole world. That’s all. Just a simple question if he understands that there is a far vaster audience than his electorate.

  36. @42: yeah, I came here to make that reference. And I’m gonna say it anyway:

    Shit piss fuck cunt cocksucker motherfucker tits!

    And if we can’t say anything “indecent”, how are we going to even discuss things like safe sex? Are they going to send Dan Savage to the electric chair?

    I predict this gets shot down REAL fast. Unfortunately it doesn’t seem likely that this shit-eating bastard is going to face any repercussions for attempting to obliterate the First Amendment. Talk about obscene…

    1. We all agree that it should be legal to say naughty words, but unless Bob Saget wants to show up and tell his version of The Aristocrats, it’s getting a little repetitive.

  37. When we went on vacation to South Carolina last year, my wife had been unfamiliar with the state. Her comment was that it was like a third world country there.

  38. So, in keeping with Dan Savage’s way of doing things, I propose we take this idiot’s name, and convert it into something lewd and/or obscene.


  39. Based on SC legislature website, the Doofus senator is a democrat with “some” record of fighting for human rights. Proof once again that STUPID doesn’t discriminate and knows no boundaries….

  40. well Daemon, if you want a nickname to stick you use a light hand. Only the people who live there could do it. I suggest “Senator Robert “Potty-Mouth” Ford”, “P.M. for short. Work in a few Pottys,Pots,P.Mouth and see what sticks. Do it right and he’ll find himself answering to “P.M.”in the Senate. Hmmmm, think I’ll do a google search for “Senator Robert “Potty Mouth” Ford.”

  41. Fine. I say let is pass so long as the first person charged is Dick Cheney for saying Fuck You to Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont.

  42. Ths s prfct xmpl f hw bsd th md s n pltcs. Nwhr n th rtcl r th vd ws t mntnd whch prty Sntr Frd ws ssctd. md lttl bt wth myslf tht bcs f ths h s dmcrt, nd thn ggl srchd hm t fnd t fr myslf. t trns t ws crrct.
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    Ths gys r cmpltly lst wtht Bsh.

    Pr ld sthrn rght wngrs.

  43. Ths s prfct xmpl f hw bsd th md s n pltcs. Nwhr n th rtcl r th vd ws t mntnd whch prty Sntr Frd ws ssctd. md lttl bt wth myslf tht bcs f ths h s dmcrt, nd thn ggl srchd hm t fnd t fr myslf. t trns t ws crrct.
    Nw d y thnk thr s snwbll’s chnc n HLL tht f h ws rpblcn tht wldn’t hv bn mntnd nd vrmphszd by th prss? Jdgng by sm f th gnrnt cmmnts bv, w hv ll bn ffctvly brnwshd:

    Ths gys r cmpltly lst wtht Bsh.

    Pr ld sthrn rght wngrs.

    Wht hppnd t my lst pst? Sm prvrtd knd f cnsrshp?

    1. uvanator,

      You seem to be trying to start a partisan political argument where none exists. If you’d like a fresh start, you can e-mail me and explain why I should reinstate your account. You might want to read the Moderation Policy first.

  44. It should be noted that Senator Ford is a *State* Senator, not a U.S. Senator. He’s not trying to outlaw profanity nationwide, just in South Carolina.

  45. Biography:FORD, Robert [D]–(Dist. No. 42, Charleston Co.)–Developer; residing at P.O. Box 21302, Charleston; b. Dec. 26, 1948 in New Orleans, La.; attended Grambling State Univ. and Wayne State Univ.; single; Charleston City Councilman, 1974-92; mem., SCLC Staff, 1966-72; arrested 73 times during civil rights movement; Harvey Gantt Triumphant Award, 1991; Legislator of the Year, S.C. Physical Therapy Assn., 1994; Charleston Co. Council, 1974-93; Who’s Who Among Black Elected Officials; Who’s Who Among Amer. Politicians and Statesmen; mem.: Sen. Corrections & Penology Com.; Jud. Com.; Labor, Commerce & Industry Com.; Banking & Ins. Com.; Rules Com.; S.C. Legis. Black Caucus; Chm., Civil Rights and Affirmative Action Com.; mem., United Methodist Church; prev. serv. in Sen. 1993-08.

  46. In other news, he also proposes to ban toilet paper and introduce a novel system with three silver shells. When asked about the details, he just chuckles idiotically.

  47. Bruce and Carlin are having a fat laugh somewhere over this one.

    Gotta keep those distractions coming. Look for more fevered scapegoating as things get more interesting.

  48. I am trying to figure out if swearing is illegal already in sc or not?

    my co worker was driving through SC this past month when on her way home from flordia, she stopped at a gas station to get gas @ like 3 in the morning, a cop pulled in and as she was getting in her car she hit her head and said fuck, well as she left she had four cop cars pull up surround her then the officer ticketed her for swearing in public her fine is almost 1100 dollars, make no mistake that is one thousand one hundred dollars, i am still trying to find out if tghats legal, because it seems so illegal to me

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