Washington Post | The Residents of Middleborough, Mass., have had enough. In a state with a storied history of Puritan-inspired prohibitions, they voted 183-50 in a town meeting last Monday to approve a proposal that would, among other things, impose a $20 fine on public profanity, First Amendment be damned.
In a town of roughly 20,000 people that the Associated Press described as best known for its cranberry bogs, profanity was just one of several practices addressed in the recently passed bylaw. The idea was to decriminalize certain behaviors prohibited in existing legislation that a cumbersome legal process often discouraged officers from enforcing. Other behaviors officers can now ticket include public marijuana use, public drinking and dumping snow on roadways. By treating them in the same vein as, say, traffic violations, the idea is that officers would actually be more inclined to deal with these issues when they see them.