Mass. town OKs $20 fines for swearing in public

MIDDLEBOROUGH, MA

At a town meeting Monday night, residents voted 183-50 to approve a proposal from the police chief to impose a $20 fine on public profanity.

Supporters say the proposal isn't meant to censor casual or private conversations, but instead crack down on loud profanity in downtown areas and public parks.

Middleborough has had a bylaw against public profanity since 1968. But it's rarely, if ever, been enforced, because it essentially makes swearing a crime.

The new proposal would decriminalize profanity, allowing police to write tickets as they would for traffic violations.

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