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ACLU Sues To Protect Your Right To Swear 698

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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  • by clone53421 ( 1310749 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:37AM (#32239132) Journal

    An American rights group is suing the police in Pennsylvania for issuing tickets, which carry a jail sentence, to people for swearing.


    One lawsuit involves an unidentified woman in Luzerne County in northeast Pennsylvania who was given a citation which carries a maximum penalty of $300 and 90 days in jail after she yelled an offensive word at a motorcyclist who swerved close to her in October 2008.

    I think I speak for most people when I say: Fuck that.

  • Re:Already settled? (Score:5, Informative)

    by clone53421 ( 1310749 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:38AM (#32239174) Journal

    Sounds like the precedent has been set, but the police haven’t quite gotten the message yet...

    “Cops don’t understand that there’s a legal definition of obscenity and therefore issue citations for profanity,” said Sara Mullen, a spokeswoman for the ACLU.

    Tuthill added that the ACLU will continue to bring lawsuits until the practice of issuing citations for swearing is stopped.

  • No surprise (Score:5, Informative)

    by ArchieBunker ( 132337 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:41AM (#32239232) Homepage

    If you live in PA this won't surprise you. We just started selling alcohol on Sundays and a handful of grocery stores have had the audacity to try selling beer/wine!

  • Fucking nothing (Score:5, Informative)

    by sjbe ( 173966 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:45AM (#32239338)

    Can somebody explain to me what exactly is bad about swearing?

    Not really, no.

    Apparently some people think certain words are evil, bad and offensive regardless of the context in which they are used. This argument is of course fucking absurd. Word have no meaning without context. I believe George Carlin addressed this issue at some length and expense [wikipedia.org].

  • Re:America (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @11:50AM (#32239466)

    anal sex to preserve virginity dates back thousands of years before the USA was founded, and it's not illegal to curse in public or on TV in the US. Otherwise, you're post was dead on accurate.

  • Same here ... (Score:2, Informative)

    by vonmeth ( 656965 ) * on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:07PM (#32239796)
    ... in Virginia Beach. You are not allowed to swear out on the boardwalk. http://www.flickr.com/photos/christopherdale/23860378/ [flickr.com] Picture of the signs they have posted up and down the board walk. I believe you receive a fine for violating it.
  • Re:Let it rip (Score:4, Informative)

    by GIL_Dude ( 850471 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:11PM (#32239888) Homepage
    I might have this backwards because copyright, etc. seems to be a morass - but I don't think the record companies can sue for you performing a song yourself. I think that is ASCAP that does that - the people representing the songwriters and composers. You know, the ones who don't want restaurant staff to be able to sing Happy Birthday. Generally isn't it ASCAP that hassles locations that hire cover bands and not the RIAA?
  • Re:Already settled? (Score:2, Informative)

    by bbbaldie ( 935205 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:12PM (#32239892) Homepage
    There was a trial in Benton County, Arkansas four years ago where a person was charged with disorderly conduct for flipping a state trooper the bird. The case was thrown out of court. I guess they realized that Arkansas state troopers deserve to be flipped off?
  • Re:Let it rip... (Score:2, Informative)

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:15PM (#32239990) Journal

    I don't know 'bout that asshole, but this here niga loves them ho's and their fatt-ass backs. Ugh. And double up: Ugh ugh. - I also loves those Asian bitches with their bigass nipples on teeny-tiny titties. And their clitties are huge and sensitive. Man! Their squeals sound like little girls when I give 'em a little something-something in the poot-tay. The white hos ain't bad neither, though I still prefer my sistas.

    That was fun. Reminds me of my youth in the 90s.
    Uh oh. Here come the Philly police - gotta run.

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

    by commodore64_love ( 1445365 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @12:20PM (#32240096) Journal

    "the" comes from the Germanic pronouns der, die, das, des, and so on. It used to have a purpose, to indicate gender of the noun, but now it's just a filler word because saying, "Girl ran after ball and up hill," sounds wrong to our ears.

    My omputer. My PC. My Mac. My Amiga. My Linux. My porn archive.

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

    by asdfghjklqwertyuiop ( 649296 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:03PM (#32240972)

    Fuckside? Fuckways? Afuck?

    "We're all afuck." (== "we're fucked")?

  • by chefmonkey ( 140671 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @01:43PM (#32241706)

    If Penn wants people to be 'polite' and not use profanity in public places, thats perfectly acceptable, IF they vote it into law. If its not a law then thats it, game over ... majority rules, if a community doesn't want people swearing in public then you deal with it.

    Okay, time for a quick high-school civics refresher. The basis of law in the United States all derives from the U.S. constitution. While the 10th amendment to that constitution does grant the states and the people a lot of latitude, it explicitly places the protections of the rest of the constitution as superior to any laws that might be passed by the states (or any lower level). That's why the Supreme Court can and frequently does strike down statutes and ordinances that they find to be in conflict with the Constitution.

    In other words, if Pennsylvania wants to pass "community standards" laws that constrain speech in this way, they really only have two choices: (1) somehow get an amendment to US Constitution that curtails the 1st amendment; or (2) secede. From a practical perspective, #1 won't happen, and #2 would probably be met with armed resistance.

  • Legal Brief (Score:3, Informative)

    by Goobermunch ( 771199 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @02:00PM (#32242064)

    There is a great brief filed by a Colorado Public Defender addressing this issue (specifically the word Fuck and its history and uses).

    The brief can be found at: http://scofacts.org/The-F-Motion.html [scofacts.org]


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

    by hellop2 ( 1271166 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @04:36PM (#32245068)
    For instance, what's the difference between these invectives?

    A twat - since the inclusion of cunt, twat has been deprecated
    A dick - stubborn, demanding, mean
    An ass - obnoxious and unwanted
    An asshole - similar to dick, but less flattering
    An assface - face looks like an ass
    A shithead - entire head is worth as much as shit
    A shitface - similar to assface, but worse
    A dumbass - not intelligent
    A smartass - obnoxious
    A wiseass - similar to smartass, but with more old-timey feel, deprecated
    A twatface - deprecated, you might get laughed at if you use this term
    A shit-for-brains - unintelligent
    A retard - developmental disability
    A fucktard - like retard, but worse
    A dumbfuck - unintelligent with subtle hints of sexual inadequacy
    A fuckhead - worthless, except possibly for use as a masturbation tool
    A bitch - 1. female dog 2. rude, overbearing woman
    A fucking bitch - worse than a bitch
    A giant fucking bitch - worse than a fucking bitch. Ex: Susan may be a bitch, but Marth is a giant fucking bitch.

    Personally, I always choose the subtle nuances of my emphatic invectives with utmost intention, you wiseass hippy-dippy stump-humpin forest faggot. God, I hate hippies.
  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by Miseph ( 979059 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @04:36PM (#32245070) Journal

    I'll bite:

    "Is the ACLU going to go to court and support the Constitutional right be a fool too?"

    They frequently do go to court to defend peoples' right to do foolish things. I suppose that if a law were passed making it unlawful to be a fool, then they would fight it directly, but in the absence of such laws they've defended individual foolish things instead. For example, it would be very foolish for a chapter of the American Nazi Party to march through the streets of a town with more Holocaust survivors per capita than any other in America... and yet they have sued (and won, although the group evidently thought better of it and called the event off) to affirm precisely that right.

    "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"

    What people? If you're claiming that the ACLU has supported any such view or action, then you are sorely mistaken. Even a cursory glance at their catalog of suits will turn up cases where they argued explicitly FOR allowing private citizens to express their Christian beliefs in the face of censorship. That said, Christians have a bit of a persecution complex, imagining that they are oppressed when it is clearly not so; they also like to mistake failure to give them overtly preferential treatment at all times with attempting to destroy their faith, which is less endearing than they think.

    "while they will fight for the right to offend someone else with their profanity"

    I often find that it is substantially easier to offend a person if you don't use any profanity at all. In fact, a not insignificant people aren't offended by profanity in the slightest. You have no right not to be offended.

    "It's nothing but pure hypocrisy."

    I don't think that word means what you think it means.

  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:5, Informative)

    by PixelScuba ( 686633 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @04:51PM (#32245308)
    Fortunately the ACLU defends your right to distribute religious material.

    February 21, 2003: The American Civil Liberties Union came to the defense of students in a Massachusetts high school who were suspended for distributing candy canes with Christian messages on them. The ACLU argued that their suspension violated the students’ freedom of speech.

    July 11, 2002: ACLU defends the right of Iowa public school students to distribute Christian literature during non-instructional hours of school.

    So... thank God for the ACLU standing up for our right to practice religious freedom and expression and keeping Government forced religion out of our lives.

    ...and thank them for standing up for our fucking right to free expression.
  • Re:Let it rip... (Score:3, Informative)

    by BillX ( 307153 ) on Monday May 17, 2010 @07:33PM (#32247320) Homepage

    I can, but not as a preposition. "Threee bluescreens in three hours; clearly something is afuck in my registry."

    Wait, I have it!

    "Upon opening the door, he was shocked to see his wife sitting afuck the mailman." Kind of like "atop" or "astraddle", but a bit more specific.

  • Re:Hmmmm (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 17, 2010 @09:20PM (#32248170)

    The lawsuit over, and the theft of, the cross honoring WWI GI's who died in combat.

    This is not "saying a Christian doesn't have the right to spread/proselytize their religion, or the symbols of Christianity offend them, and wanting all symbols of Christianity wiped out, while fighting for the right to offend someone else with their profanity". Therefore, you're lying by claiming it as such an example.

    A nativity scene can't be displayed in a park during Christmas.

    This is also not "saying a Christian doesn't have the right to spread/proselytize their religion, or the symbols of Christianity offend them, and wanting all symbols of Christianity wiped out, while fighting for the right to offend someone else with their profanity". Therefore, claiming this as such an example is another lie from you.

    Students can't pray in school.

    This is a particularly egregious lie. You know perfectly well that what's forbidden is sanctioning of such prayer by public schools. Spinning that as "students can't pray" cannot be anything other than a lie, as it is literally impossible to honestly draw that conclusion from the known facts.

    Those come off the top of my head, but I can find many, many more

    You can't and won't. I said it before, you proved it with the above post, and you'll continue to prove it forever.

A freelance is one who gets paid by the word -- per piece or perhaps. -- Robert Benchley