F*cking cops cracking down on curse words

[Video Link] Here's Reason TV's Net Nanny of the month award:

June's busybodies want to shield your eyes from bikinis and remind you that they're not above ripping your garden out (even if you are complying with city codes).

But top dishonors go to the police chief who admitted on camera that his officers had "more important things to do," but still championed a measure that fines folks for swearing in public.

Presenting Reason.tv's Nanny of the Month for June 2012: Middleborough, Massachusetts Police Chief Bruce Gates!

Bikini Banners and F*cking Cops Cracking Down on Curse Words!


  1. On one level, I love these kinds of things.   Stupid rules and stupid traditions are one of the spices of life.  A world that didn’t do irrational stuff would be bland.  No, I’m not advocating people randomly eating someone’s face.  That would be dining on pure capsaicin.  But puritanical traditions make nakedness more fun.  And profanity rules make profanity more satisfying.  Like the bitter edge to sweet chocolate.

    And they make for a good laugh on Boingboing.

    1. Reminds me of those lists of old crazy laws.  I’m always curious about the circumstances that lead to, for example, outlawing inflated condoms as a balloon substitute at a children’s birthday party…

    2. Which just brings up the issue that the stupid rule-makers and morality-pushers never understand. They think that if you ban it or fine it or punish it or shame it, it will go away. As if the force of law will stop the underlying causes of people swearing or going naked or whatever. It’s the same with gay marriage. The bigots argue against gay marriage as if it will make gay people go away when all a ban does is reinforce legal and financial inequality, but doesn’t stop gay relationships or gay people being parents or gay people being public about who they are. Prohibition just pushed alcohol underground and made money for gangsters and health risks for civilians.

      1. Not Massachusetts. Only Middleborough (which I’ve never visited – and don’t plan to any time soon).
        Swearing will get you fined in Middleborough, but swearing is fucking fine in Springfield.

  2. As a Middleboro resident, it’s been quite entertaining to see the amount of attention this is getting.  Plenty of people arguing free speech, or getting worked up about how vague the wording is and that it’s up to the officer’s discretion. From what I hear, the whole issue revolves around the fact there have been several instances where typically teenagers downtown have been yelling profanities loudly to each other across the street.   Free speech or not, the action can be somewhat intimidating, and evidently is having an impact on perceived safety for local businesses.  Allowing a fine to be issued by an officer in the form of a ticket just allows for some way to deal with excessive behavior without the need for a court summons and potential criminal record.   As far as officer discretion goes, can’t the same be said about tickets for speeding?  Most people in MA typically go at least 5-10 over the limit, and it’s highly unlikely that anyone would get pulled over for such blatant disregard of the speed law.

    1. this is only as damaging to free expression as a “no spitting” fine.  it goes to the “keeping the peace” end of law enforcement, like excessive car horns, loudness late at night, and so on.  perfectly fucking okay by me.

      btw, the blatant sexism of the whole concept of the “nanny state” plus the Victorian illustration of the woman?  bloody fucking cocksuckingly sexist. 

    2. From what I hear, the whole issue revolves around the fact there have been several instances where typically teenagers downtown have been yelling profanities loudly to each other across the street.

      Presumably you already have laws that cover disturbing the peace, harassment and intimidation, no?  If the method of delivery of the obscenity is already covered by law, then punishing the content is a violation of free speech principles.

      1.  But “disturbing the peace” would get you sent through the court system. This way you put $20 into the swear jar, and go on your merry way. Besides, free speech is about the flow of ideas, and I have yet to meet an idea that can’t be expressed without swearing.

    3. TEENAGERS? Well why didn’t they mention this earlier? You need to crack down on them now before they start wearing hooded sweatshirts, kissing or dancing.

  3. Banning vulgar curse words which were once considered taboo? What ninny ponce thought that up? A bunch of rutting base-court pumpions, I say!

  4. I hate hearing people use vulgar or racist language in public, but it’s crazy to get the cops involved. The teens that brought about this law may someday realize on their own that calling somebody a f*cking n*gger just doesn’t make them look cool.

  5. A finer group of frumpious, calcifying, malodorous misconceptions has yet to be conceived by humankind.
    And just about every teenager in the history of humankind has gone thru this ‘I’m gonna curse’ phase – because they DO think it makes them cool (even thought ‘most’ adults know better).

  6. For those of us in Colorado Springs, who are relieved the fires are coming under control, we can only guess how post-TABOR (heck, they won’t turn on our streetlights…haven’t for years), the city/El Paso County/State of Colorado/USA are going to find ways to make up for not having any money. Watch yourself, local residents, nothing brings in revenue quite as fast as citations.

  7. Surely the State has no right to cleanse public debate to the point where it is grammatically palatable to the most squeamish among us. Yet no readily ascertainable general principle exists for stopping short of that result were we to affirm the judgment below. For, while the particular four-letter word being litigated here is perhaps more distasteful than most others of its genre, it is nevertheless often true that one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric. Indeed, we think it is largely because governmental officials cannot make principled distinctions in this area that the Constitution leaves matters of taste and style so largely to the individual.
     — Cohen v California

  8. Banning bikinis…does she think everyone woman wearing one is a frelling tralk?

    And +10 for the Demolition Man reference (National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation rant would have also worked.)

  9. I have been to Middleboro, and it is impossible when first tasting the tap water not to yell, “What the fuck is this shit?!?”

  10. Meh.  Just learn to swear in Chinese, like they did on Firefly.  Not only does it sound much cooler, but they’ll have to go back to the drawing board on their law.  And then there’s swearing in sign language.  And what about insulting gestures from foreign countries?  Better put those in as well.  And… does it have to be audible?  What if I just MOUTH the words in an exaggerated fashion?  How much of a word does it take to qualify?  More than 50%?  So if I stand in the middle of the street and beller “FFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUU” I’m okay?  What if my friend then bellers “UUUUUUUCCKK!”?  Or you get a whole group of people to each do one phoneme?  The fun is endless!

  11. This is ridiculous. Fucking is dangerous enough as it is without having the fucking police reassigned to this pointless cursing detail. 

    I know people have their legitimate complaints with the fucking cops sometimes, but you know who moves in when the fucking cops have to waste their time writing tickets for illegal cussing? Fucking criminals, that’s who.

  12. reason.tv uses programs like these to encourage pavlovian distrust of government.  “we don’t need nanny government.” then, when health care or an assault gun ban or unions comes up. well, you know what the “right” response is: no, to health care  (i don’t need the governments help & i’m not paying for someone else); no, to any gun control; no to unions (why should they get special privileges); no to the federal reserve (let’s get back to the gold standard). 

    sure, im all for relaxed drug laws and several other “libertarian” issues. but overall, reason.tv is not an honest broker of ideas.   it’s a gussied up user-friendly organ of the tea party.

    1. Reason has been around far longer than the “tea party”. Reason is also pretty much diametrically opposed to a solid half of the tea party’s platform. It is pretty hard to call a group “an organ of the tea party” that is pro gay marriage, wants to slash military spending to a tiny fraction of what it is, eliminate the DEA and the war on drugs, and wipe out every single morality law.

      It isn’t a trick. Reason is for exactly what they say they are for. They want to broadly reduce the power and force of government. Unlike Republicans, they actually mean it. You don’t have to like them, but calling them disingenuous actors is fucking absurd. They are loud, blatant, and never talk out of the side of their mouth. If they are disingenuous, WTF does that make everyone else?

      Liberals go through massive cognitive dissidence when dealing with libertarians. They find half of their policies abhorrent, and the other half so sane and spot on that they only wish liberal politicians had the guts to advocate for such policies. Instead of reconciling this with “I agree with those guys on some things and disagree violently with them on others”, they take this “they are trying to trick me!” approach. Get over it. It isn’t a trick. You just agree with libertarians on pretty much every social and military issue. If anything, they are left of you on a number of things. Deal with it.

    2. The second paragraph is nonsense.  Their particular brand of libertarianism preceded the tea party by decades.  The damn magazine itself is more than 40 years old.  If we are going to use the genetic fallacy, at least make sure the relationship is there!

    3.  A pavlovian distrust of government is a healthy and sane point of view. If you trust the government, you need to pay more attention to the world around you.

        1. Are you serious? Behavioral therapists use classical Pavlovian conditioning in the treatment of disorder to correct unhealthy activity.
          Consider your reaction to other peoples food left on your plate. That’s a new(ish) a trained reaction. Prior to the european renaissance, plates, knives, forks, etc were communal affairs in pubs and restaurants. In lower class establishments plates were often nailed to the table.
          No one had a problem with it and everyone was happy – Until the black death killed off 1/3 – 2/3 of the worlds population. That’s when we started the whole hygiene movement. We began washing our hands and cleaning our plates. After a few hundred years of this, we all have the same Pavlovian reaction to eating off dirty plates. I’d say that reaction is sane and healthy even if it’s not a natural one.

  13. Is it legal to say scrotum sack, odorous genitalia or oral sphincter penetration…? 

  14. You have just committed a violation of the verbal morality standard… http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rVQGT01Kzg

  15. Holy c**p!  Have you ever listened to cops talking? I used to think sailors could cuss and drink beer, and then I started teaching classes with a large percentage  of cops. Asking cops to enforce laws against foul language? They’d all have to throw each other in the hoosegow first!

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