Middleborough, Massachusetts is a small town by the Bay State’s south shore, about an hour drive from Boston. It counts about 23,000 residents, who apparently have vicious potty mouths along with some easily offended ears.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Mimi Duphily, a local civil leader and owner of Willy’s Autoshop, has helped launch a crusade against publinc swearing, and the town will now vote on a measure to make it a civil offense, punishable with a $20 fine. “[Duphily] conferred with the Beautification and Activities Group, which informed the Middleborough Business Coalition, which then called a summit with Middleborough Police Chief Bruce Gates, who now, in his sworn role, is trying to stomp out swears,” writes the Journal.
As for the ol’ First Amendment—right to free speech and all that—it doesn’t seem to bother Duphily much. “No person should be allowed to talk in that manner,” she says.
Amazingly, Middleborough already has a First Amendment-squashing, swear-busting law on the books dating back to 1968. But that law makes public swearing a criminal offense, and law enforcement always found it preposterous to arrest and imprison people for swearing. This law, which would let them simply write tickets without making arrests, should make it easily enforceable, says Police Chief Bruce Gates.
The new law would effectively institute a town-wide swear jar, to the tune of $20 per swear. That’s steep inflation—when I was a kid 25 cents was standard. But I guess it wasn’t being enforced by cops back then.
Duphily is basically Middleborough’s swear narc, and, incredibly, she has a pet parrot named Baby that she can’t get to stop swearing: “In the morning, he says, ‘Hello. Hello. Hello.’ If you don’t answer, he’ll say, ‘You a—.’” WSJ writes: “It may be tough to get locals to shut their beaks, she concedes. But when Baby bleeps, she tosses a quilt over his cage. ‘I don’t let him get away with it,’ she said.”
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