ACLU Fights Against Jail Time For Swearing In Pennsylvania

For those who like to pepper their speech with profanity (and don’t we all from time to time?), you might want to steer clear of Pennsylvania until the ACLU makes it safe for you: they are suing the police in Pennsylvania for issuing tickets, which carry a jail sentence, to people for swearing. Story via Reuters:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which filed the lawsuits earlier, argues that the right to use profanity is protected by the U.S. Constitution.

“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.”

Obscenity, under the Supreme Court’s definition, refers to speech that mainly appeals to the “prurient interest” in sex, according to the ACLU.

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.

In a separate case a man was arrested, cited for disorderly conduct and briefly jailed after shouting a double expletive at a policeman who was writing him a parking ticket…

[continues at Reuters]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

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4 Comments on "ACLU Fights Against Jail Time For Swearing In Pennsylvania"

  1. Ninjarider1 | May 15, 2010 at 9:50 am |

    So typical of government. They've never met a “right” that they didn't want to take away!

  2. Another volley in the war against the Irish, Sailors, and George Carlin…thankfully there's really no reason or excuse to be in Pennsylvania, so me and mine should be fine, the attitude of the times…

  3. Hadrian999 | May 15, 2010 at 11:37 pm |

    the state motto is “virtue, liberty, and independence”
    kinda striking out out there

  4. Hadrian999 | May 16, 2010 at 12:37 am |

    the state motto is “virtue, liberty, and independence”
    kinda striking out out there

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