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ACLU Sues To Protect Your Right To Swear 698

Posted by samzenpus
from the seven-words-you-can-always-say-in-public dept.
The ACLU is suing the police in Pennsylvania for issuing tickets to people who swear. They argue that it is every American's constitutional right to drop an F-bomb. From the article: "'Unfortunately, many police departments in the commonwealth do not seem to be getting the message that swearing is not a crime,' said Marieke Tuthill of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. 'The courts have repeatedly found that profanity, unlike obscenity, is protected speech.'" This is a big f*cking deal.

*

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ACLU Sues To Protect Your Right To Swear

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  • Hmmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by haderytn (1232484) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:35AM (#32239094)
    This should be fun.
  • by prichardson (603676) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:37AM (#32239144) Journal

    "This is a big f*cking deal."

    No. It's a big fucking deal. Just print the U please, it won't hurt anyone.

    Replacing the vowel in profanity with some other character doesn't fool anyone. Everyone knows still you're swearing.

  • by Anon-Admin (443764) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:41AM (#32239224) Homepage Journal

    In English, fuck falls into many grammatical categories:

            As a transitive verb for instance.. John fucked Shirley.
            As an intransitive verb... Shirley fucks.

    Its meaning is not always sexual, it can be used as...

            An adjective such as... John's doing all the fucking work.
            As part of an adverb... Shirley talks too fucking much.
            As an adverb enhancing an adjective... Shirley is fucking beautiful.
            As a noun... I don't give a fuck.
            As part of a word... absofuckinglutely -or- infuckingcredible.
            And as almost every word in a sentence... Fuck the fucking fuckers.

    As you must realize, there aren't too many words with the versatility of fuck...such as these examples describing situations such as:

            Fraud: I got fucked at the used car lot.
            Dismay: ahhh fuck it.
            Trouble: I guess I'm really fucked now.
            Aggression: Don't fuck with me buddy.
            Difficulty: I don't understand this fucking question.
            Inquiry: Who the fuck was that?
            Dissatisfaction: I don't like what the fuck is going on here.
            Incompetence: He's a fuck-off.
            Dismissal: Why don't you go outside and play hide and go fuck yourself...

    I'm sure you can think of many more examples.

    With all these multi-purpose applications, how can anyone be offended when you use the word. We say use this unique, flexible word more often in your daily speech.

    It will identify the quality of your character immediately.

    Say it loudly and proudly: FUCK YOU!

  • by areusche (1297613) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:43AM (#32239274)

    I had a friend flip off a cop once for cutting him off on a road in Erie. The cop turned around, put his lights on, and gave him a ticket for obscenity.

    He challenged the ticket mentioning freedom of speech as well as the fact that the officer didn't even show up. In the end he won, but that doesn't excuse the fact that police officers in Pennsylvania can waste people's time like this on power trips.

  • by truetorment (919200) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:43AM (#32239278)
    It's depressing to me that we still need the ACLU to come in and fight unjust laws or their applications like this. I guess we should just be thankful that they exist at all. :(
  • by $RANDOMLUSER (804576) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:45AM (#32239306)
    George Carlin was a fucking genius. Fuck! I fucking miss him.
  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Insightful)

    by clone53421 (1310749) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:45AM (#32239308) Journal

    That wasn’t Slashdot censoring, it was samzenpus self-censoring. He could’ve said fucking if he’d wanted.

  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:46AM (#32239358) Journal
    Police can waste people's time with power trips pretty much everywhere. Hence the phrase "you can beat the rap; but you can't beat the ride"...

    What is worse is that there are so seldom any repercussions for them doing so.
  • You lose TWICE! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Saeed al-Sahaf (665390) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:48AM (#32239414) Homepage

    Sorry, I couldn't f-ing resist!

    Oh, that's fucking sad. You lose TWICE!

  • by Changa_MC (827317) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:52AM (#32239502) Homepage Journal

    No.
    You can get a pair of earphones and protect your right to not listen for yourself, without calling the cops down on me for exercising my first amendment rights.

    Fuck you.

  • It's odd... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by CannonballHead (842625) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:00PM (#32239680)

    Certain words have crept into vocabulary and are now used to the exclusion of other words. It seems young folks are unable, now, to express themselves without swear words. It seems that they are completely unaware that there are actual words that actually MEAN what they are trying to say; but since they don't know them, they attach the same word that everyone else attaches for emphasis. So we end up with sentences that include the same word, for emphasis, three times... when all they really mean to say is "I was astounded."

    To me, people who use swear words for pretty much everything sound uneducated and ... well, the follow-the-crowd type... someone who is clearly influenced, in the way they talk, by whoever is around them at the time.

    It's also interesting to me that people argue that words have no meaning out of context, etc., and typically argue that with someone who is offended by that kind of speech... and yet, then they use those same words specifically to offend or be abrasive. That's not out-of-context, that is a very specific context. If you are using a word specifically to offend me while claiming I shouldn't be offended because it's out of context, you're being rather rude.

    I personally dislike swearing. I find it ... well, vulgar and uneducated :) Here's my actual "political" response though: as long as I am not allowed to use certain terms for people because it's "politically incorrect" or "offensive" to them, etc - for example, "black" or "gay" or perhaps saying that some act or sexual orientation is a "sin" - then I don't see why you should be allowed to swear and cuss under to offend someone under the guise of free speech.

  • Re:Let it rip... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by greyline (1052440) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:01PM (#32239706)
    It is the most versatile word in the English language. Fuck can mean just about anything! Simply use your imagination...
  • by Volante3192 (953645) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:03PM (#32239734)

    One right you do NOT have is to not be offended.

    So fuck off.

  • Re:Fucking nothing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Volante3192 (953645) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:08PM (#32239822)

    Best. English teacher. Ever.

  • Re:Let it rip... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mmarlett (520340) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:16PM (#32239998)

    "Fuck" is the most versatile word in the English language. It can be used in every part of speech (except as a preposition, though it can be part of a prepositional phrase). The sentence, "Fuck those fucking fuckers," for example, packs a lot of meaning in what is really only two words. There are so many uses for that one word that someone wrote an entire book [google.com] on it. In it, it calls "fuck" the "most important and powerful word in the English language."

    So don't be so fucking quick to judge.

  • Re:Let it rip... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AltairDusk (1757788) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:16PM (#32240008)
    When did we claim that we were limited to using profanity? I don't see swearing as an indication of one's vocabulary, merely a style of speech. Now calm the fuck down!
  • by Volante3192 (953645) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:20PM (#32240084)

    As of today, it is indeed illegal to use obscene language in PA, if there is INTENT to cause public ... alarm.

    While the citizen was praised for helping alert everyone to the disaster, his cries of "Get the fuck out of here, it's going to blow!" caused him to be cited under Section 5503.

    His trial is scheduled for Thursday.

  • Re:Let it rip... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by gumbi west (610122) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:27PM (#32240218) Journal

    Let me help, when you use a swear word as an adjective, you miss the opportunity to use an adjective that would help the listener. Think of someone leaving a class room where the just got a bad grade on their test they could say, "I hate that f*cking teacher. He is such an *ss" removing the swear word, "I hate that teacher. He is an ..." makes it clear that the thought is really quite banal, makes you sound stupid (worthy of the C). The speaker would feel compelled to add something so that they might say, "I hate that droning teacher. He is never nice to me." Much more communicative.

  • by tfranzese (869766) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:29PM (#32240286) Homepage
    Then don't read Slashdot out loud. Problem solved.
  • by Delusion_ (56114) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:30PM (#32240292) Homepage

    ...their head examined. Traffic court is already filled with bogus cases in defense of laws whose primary purpose is to generate income for the locality.

    Fair taxation, please, not harassment in lieu of it.

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:36PM (#32240450) Journal

    The latter is exactly what you DONT have a right to say

    Incorrect.

    Not to a police officer anyways

    Incorrect.

    nor should you.

    Incorrect.

    You want to live in a country without police?

    Incorrect.

    I want to live in a country where the fucking police do their fucking job and quit fucking with people who they shouldn’t be fucking with.

    Is that fucking clear?

  • Re:Let it rip... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by idontgno (624372) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:36PM (#32240454) Journal

    Shakespeare asserted [phrases.org.uk] that "Brevity is the soul of wit."

    Your rejoinder was quite brief.

    Therefore, your rejoinder is quite witty. QED.

  • Re:It's odd... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:41PM (#32240560)

    Certain words have crept into vocabulary and are now used to the exclusion of other words. It seems young folks are unable, now, to express themselves without swear words. It seems that they are completely unaware that there are actual words that actually MEAN what they are trying to say; but since they don't know them, they attach the same word that everyone else attaches for emphasis. So we end up with sentences that include the same word, for emphasis, three times... when all they really mean to say is "I was astounded."

    You act as if this were a recent phenomenon, when in fact your parents made this same observation about your generation, as did your grandparents about your parents' generation, and so on.

    Here's my actual "political" response though: as long as I am not allowed to use certain terms for people because it's "politically incorrect" or "offensive" to them, etc - for example, "black" or "gay" or perhaps saying that some act or sexual orientation is a "sin"

    You are allowed to. But even if we actually lived in this strawman alternate-reality version of America that you refer to...

    then I don't see why you should be allowed to swear and cuss under to offend someone under the guise of free speech.

    ...two wrongs don't make a right.

  • Re:Let it rip... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by P0ltergeist333 (1473899) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:49PM (#32240704)

    I was with you up until: "at least on principle, I find that their legal support of such people as some sort of "enlightened" viewpoint is almost just as shallow."

    What?

    "at least on principle" - Well of course...that's the whole reason behind the suit, the principle of the matter.

    "I find that their legal support of such people as some sort of "enlightened" viewpoint is almost just as shallow."- What? If you believe in a principle, you defend the right of ALL people. Just like John Adams defending the British soldiers accused in the "Boston Massacre." You can't say "I wont defend Larry Flynt because he peddles "smut." We all have the right to equal protection under the law, even those you DON"T LIKE. And you say THEY'RE shallow?

    The bottom line is that no one has the right to not be offended. Period.

  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:50PM (#32240730) Homepage

    That tends to happen when you have no punishment for violating crimes or rights.

    Support laws that allow you to sue the officer directly. Once we can sue the bastards and take their stuff, they will start acting like civilized people instead of the gestapo.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:53PM (#32240784)
    They have their priorities. If you don't like their priorities, give money to someone else, or form your own lobbyist group to deal with the second amendment. Personally, I think the NRA has the second amendment in hand and I don't think the ACLU needs to spend time and money on those issues.
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:53PM (#32240790) Journal
    When your power is conditionally granted to you by the people, for their security and greater good, abusing it is a very serious matter.

    If cops want to be assholes in their capacity as private citizens, that is not my problem. If they cross the line into employing state resources or power to do so, then they are lower than dirt in my eyes. Best case, they should find another line of work. Worst case, we can always run a little "How long will the crooked cop last in prison?" experiment...
  • by Lumpy (12016) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:58PM (#32240880) Homepage

    I want to live in a country that when the police violate laws they can be sued and put in jail for it.

    In the USA, being a cop means you have a license to do what you want. You can even kill someone, firing several shots in his back and get away with it. It happens every month in the USA.

    You can be detained for no reason and you have no recourse. you can be severly assaulted by the police for no reason other than a peaceful protest and have no recourse. People have been tazed enough times to caus them to get more tazers because they emptied them, because they would not unchain themselves from a fence. That officer needs to not only lose everything he owns, but be blackballed from ever being a cop again. I prefer he be thrown in prison with a COP banner on him.

  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Roadfrisbee (879494) on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:16PM (#32241178)
    Take away the right to say fuck and you take away the right to say fuck the government. Lenny Bruce
  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:28PM (#32241374)
    Seriously, self-censorship is a good thing, often under-practiced.
  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MaskedSlacker (911878) on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:28PM (#32241378)

    Grow up.

  • Re:Let it rip... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Toonol (1057698) on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:35PM (#32241534)
    I don't really mind swearing, and occasionally let loose. However, I do find it... perhaps childish? ...when people find something funny simply because a fuck was added into the mix. Look at this thread: Dozens of comments that are basically contentless, modded +5 funny because they have 'fucking' in them. I don't find it offensive, just juvenile and lame, like kids giggling after they say 'poop'.
  • by carp3_noct3m (1185697) <slashdotNO@SPAMwarriors-shade.net> on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:49PM (#32241848)

    Operation Personal Rant = engaged / Ah the classic, if you don't agree with policy, move away statement. Listen here fucktard, I am a Iraq Combat vet, and consider myself a patriot. While this gives me no more right to speech than any other American citizen, it gives me clout with fuckheads like you. What I do not consider myself a BLIND patriot. As Howard Zinn stated, "DISSENT IS THE HIGHEST FORM OF PATRIOTISM" Very few people (only pure anarchists) would want to live "in a country without police", What I don't want is for police that are militaristic, don't know the law, often have no better education than highschool, and are increasingly corrupt in my country. The entire "Love it or leave it" is predicated on the premise that either you COMPLETELY love (read: agree) with all policy of the USA (Which any semi-intelligent person does not) or you do not deserve and should not live here. Thats not how it works. I can love my country, and hate it's government, (or the power elite who have gotten us into this mess we are in today). What it boils down to, is that this type of statement is one of the most destructive to discourse tactics used by people who have little knowledge or facts to defend their beliefs, where the then label someone with a negative, anti-american label so as to discredit them. This is known as a argumentative logical fallacy as a "ad hominem" attack. Where you attack the person presenting an argument instead of the argument. YOU DO NOT HAVE A RIGHT TO NOT BE OFFENDED!

  • by clone53421 (1310749) on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:59PM (#32242048) Journal

    The police are doing their job when they write you a ticket for speeding. You were speeding you got a ticket.

    The police were not doing their job when they wrote me a ticket for turning left at a no-left-turn intersection. I did not turn left. True story.

    You said a foul word their is a law on the books that says you can be punished for it.

    Unconstitutional.

    You were jay walking their is a law on the books that prevents that. You were smoking weed in your house their is a law against it.

    The police’s job is to protect me from others, and if necessary, to protect them from me. It is not their job to protect me from myself.

    These laws that were made by the people for the people is being enforced by a group of people who were given the power to enforce the laws made by the people with a law that was made for the people by the people.

    I know you’re trying to be clever but when you can’t keep the tenses straight between your nouns and verbs anymore you might be trying too hard. Not to mention I had to read it three times to figure out what it said (which was of course just what you had intended).

    The person you want to speak with in regards to the fucking issue here is your towns council / State legislators and not the fucking police. You don't like the laws then have them changed.

    Now that I don’t disagree with... but will it get me back the $300 for the no-left-turn ticket and the legal expense of getting it converted to a non-moving violation?

  • by sean.peters (568334) on Monday May 17, 2010 @02:04PM (#32242178) Homepage
    ... it was about detecting sarcasm and irony. Might want to check that one out.
  • Re:Let it rip... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KahabutDieDrake (1515139) on Monday May 17, 2010 @02:14PM (#32242376)
    I disagree with what you have to say, but I will fight to the death to protect your right to say it.

    I'm fairly certain this is the main principle behind the ACLU's action here.
  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:1, Insightful)

    by ffreeloader (1105115) on Monday May 17, 2010 @02:51PM (#32243084) Journal

    Seriously, self-censorship is a good thing, often under-practiced.

    I agree.

    And as to the ACLU fighting to say profanity is everyone's right, well, it's everyone's right to be a fool too, but that doesn't mean it's the best thing to be.... Is the ACLU going to go to court and support the Constitutional right be a fool too? It makes about as much sense.

    I find it amazing that people will say a Christian doesn't have the right to spread/proselytize their religion, or the symbols of Christianity offend them, and want all symbols of Christianity wiped out, while they will fight for the right to offend someone else with their profanity. It's nothing but pure hypocrisy.

  • Of Course Not (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @03:17PM (#32243626)

    "'Unfortunately, many police departments in the commonwealth do not seem to be getting the message that swearing is not a crime,' said Marieke Tuthill of the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

    Of course they won't get it until the courts order them to. Modern city police have NOTHING to do with law enforcement, they are simply revenuers.

  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ffreeloader (1105115) on Monday May 17, 2010 @05:08PM (#32245552) Journal

    You conveniently forget that the government shall also make no law prohibiting the free expression of religion. The Constitution has balance, it's extremely well-thought-out. Your post is all one-sided, and so is the way the Constitution has been interpreted in the last few decades. The Constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.

    During the early years of Federal government, under our current Constitution and while the creators of it were still alive, States actually sponsored different denominations. That's right. There was State sponsored religion, but not Federal sponsored religion. Thomas Jefferson even started a church that met in the Capitol building that had 2,000 people attending it on a weekly basis. The founding fathers saw nothing wrong with expressing their religious beliefs wherever, and whenever, they so desired. They just recognized that it was wrong to oppress someone who disagreed with them on religious issues. At the same time they weren't going to allow anyone else to oppress them because of their beliefs.

    The "wall of separation" letter was written to a church who feared they would be oppressed by the government because they were small. His letter was in response to that. The context makes all the difference. He wasn't saying there couldn't be any religious display on public premises. He was reaffirming the idea that the government could not restrict that group's right to worship as they pleased.

  • Re:America (Score:2, Insightful)

    by BenoitRen (998927) on Monday May 17, 2010 @05:10PM (#32245582)

    Otherwise, you're post was dead on accurate.

    It's "your". "you're" is "you are". Learn your grammar, you illiterate motherfucker!

  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @05:26PM (#32245822)

    If your argument is that separation of church and state wasn't perfect in the past, I agree. But that doesn't change the point of the idea: the government should be secular; it shouldn't promote one religion over another. If you want your kid to grow up praying to the Christian God every day, go ahead, but don't use other people's tax money and time to put it in public schools.

    If you don't agree with the idea of a secular state, fine, many people don't. And if you believe that swearing should be discouraged in public places, again many people are in your camp. But don't go pretending that the two are in the same boat: promoting Christianity with public resources is just not comparable to fining people for swearing.

  • Re:America (Score:3, Insightful)

    by donaggie03 (769758) <d_osmeyer@hotmail.COWcom minus herbivore> on Monday May 17, 2010 @10:22PM (#32248560)
    My point was that if a government entity uses its monopoly powers to require all users of a service to sign a contract, then that contract is a de facto law. I'll put it another way. The law says that the only way you can broadcast on that spectrum is by signing the contract with the FCC. If you break the contract, you are fined an arbitrary amount determined by the FCC. That pretty much makes the contract de facto law. Saying that the FCC's rules aren't the law is just playing a semantics game.
  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Kreigaffe (765218) on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @04:22AM (#32250264)

    Firstly, um, nobody is being written any tickets for being a fool. This is a situation where people ARE being written tickets for being a fool -- in this case, profanity.

    If the government was penalizing being a fool, and the ACLU was suing to protect our constitutional right to be a fool, fuck yes I'd support that.

    Your entire argument invoking religion is completely absurd and invalid. It's unrelated and more than a little straw man.

  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Omestes (471991) <[omestes] [at] [gmail.com]> on Tuesday May 18, 2010 @12:16PM (#32254942) Homepage Journal

    While I agree that they both are censorship, I disagree that they are both equally problematic.

    I could, right now, write a reply that consists only of the f-word, I chose not to, and this is fine, and even admirable. This was my decision, no one forced it on me.

    If I decided to write said alternative reply, and Slashdot, or the Government stepped in and stopped me, this would be a different problem, since a third party was infringing on my ability to act as I wish.

    The first case is a case of self-restraint and responsibility, the second is a case of censorship in the classical "bad" sense. The first case is ethically and morally pure, and something more people should do (out of their own motivations), the second is ethically dubious, and probably nothing more than a display of tyranny.

    Though if /. decided to censor the f-word, it would be completely within their rights being a private enterprise. Private censorship can be distasteful too, but often has a proper place (like barring cussing and sexual comments from a children's website). It also is a matter of choice, since your using their property, so they can guide the discussion.

    Actually the only problem I have with censorship is when a outside, public, entity enforces it against the will of any party involved.

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