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Judge Upholds Michigan's Anti-Swearing Law

By rajivvarma in News
Fri Feb 18, 2000 at 11:44:44 AM EST
Tags: Freedom (all tags)
Freedom

I caught this link from cnn.com. A judge Thursday upheld the conviction of a man who cursed in front of children after falling out of a canoe, ruling that Michigan's 102-year-old anti-swearing law is constitutional. (Complete text from site below)


STANDISH, Michigan (AP) -- A judge Thursday upheld the conviction of a man who cursed in front of children after falling out of a canoe, ruling that Michigan's 102-year-old anti-swearing law is constitutional.

A district court jury last summer convicted Timothy Boomer, a 26-year-old computer programmer, of violating the ban when he let loose with a stream of profanities. He was fined $75 and ordered to work four days in a child-care program. The sentence was deferred while the case was appealed.

"Every noise or utterance does not constitute protected free speech that falls within the ... First Amendment," Arenac County Judge Ronald Bergeron said.

Attorneys for the American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Boomer, said they expected to appeal the latest ruling. They contend Boomer's freedom of speech was violated.

"If the First Amendment means anything, it means people may speak their minds, even walking down the street or canoeing up the river," said Michael Steinberg, legal director for the ACLU in Michigan.

Bergeron ordered the matter returned to district court for a decision on whether to continue delaying Boomer's sentence.

Boomer did not immediately return a phone message Thursday. He has said that his words have been exaggerated.

A sheriff's deputy said he heard Boomer explode in a three-minute barrage of profanity after the mishap on the Rifle River last August. A woman and her two young children were nearby.

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Judge Upholds Michigan's Anti-Swearing Law | 12 comments (12 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
If only to show some people that th... (none / 0) (#3)
by hattig on Fri Feb 18, 2000 at 11:59:22 AM EST

hattig voted 1 on this story.

If only to show some people that there are some things you cannot do, like shout fire in a cinema, or poison gas on the underground, and this is a minor version of the aforementioned. (Okay, I know most kids know most swear words anyway, but a 3 minutes "barrage of profanity"?

'Darn it all to heck, my pants are flipping soaked to my dratted skin, oh oh!' :-)

These laws, although rare, do exist... (none / 0) (#4)
by bmetzler on Fri Feb 18, 2000 at 12:12:45 PM EST

bmetzler voted 1 on this story.

These laws, although rare, do exist in a few places. I tend to agree with the law, in certain ways. Why should I have to listen to something that I find offensive. This is a democracy and if most people don't want certain things said in their presence, then that should be upheld. I, for one, would be happy if I never heard that Microsoft innovates, and Mozilla is a failure, ever again...
www.bmetzler.org - it's not just a personal weblog, it's so much more.

How was he supposed to know that ch... (none / 0) (#1)
by JDogg on Fri Feb 18, 2000 at 12:42:03 PM EST

JDogg voted 1 on this story.

How was he supposed to know that children were nearby. This law is an ancient one and should be dismissed.


***It's like I'm Han Solo, you're Chewie, he's Ben Kenobi and we're in that FUCKED-UP BAR!!!***
-- Jay from Dogma

Just seems like our rights are bein... (none / 0) (#6)
by Dast on Fri Feb 18, 2000 at 12:43:47 PM EST

Dast voted 1 on this story.

Just seems like our rights are being slowly taken away, right under our noses.

... (none / 0) (#2)
by joeyo on Fri Feb 18, 2000 at 12:51:17 PM EST

joeyo voted -1 on this story.


--
"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi

I am a legal junkie, I am a freedom... (none / 0) (#5)
by Demona on Fri Feb 18, 2000 at 04:59:59 PM EST

Demona voted 1 on this story.

I am a legal junkie, I am a freedom junkie, I admit my addiction to news about freedom!

What a joke. This is why I'm voting... (none / 0) (#7)
by driph on Sat Feb 19, 2000 at 12:41:48 AM EST

Driph voted 0 on this story.

What a joke. This is why I'm voting libertarian this election.

--
Vegas isn't a liberal stronghold. It's the place where the rich and powerful gamble away their company's pension fund and strangle call girls in their hotel rooms. - Psycho Dave

This is lunacy! The more attention ... (none / 0) (#8)
by fvw on Sat Feb 19, 2000 at 01:52:42 PM EST

fvw voted 1 on this story.

This is lunacy! The more attention this kind of thing gets, the sooner we'll be able to get rid of it. Maybe we should all shout BEEP, like on jerry BEEPing springer.

this kind of out of control law enf... (none / 0) (#9)
by periscope on Sat Feb 19, 2000 at 05:27:04 PM EST

periscope voted 1 on this story.

this kind of out of control law enforcement is rediculous.

Re: Judge Upholds Michigan's Anti-Swearing Law (none / 0) (#10)
by schifter on Sat Feb 19, 2000 at 06:13:11 PM EST

sounds like deputy fife had a little too much free time on his hands. this kind of stuff happens around where i live fairly often. one of my friends got pulled over and almost fined for someone in her passenger seat tossing a cigarette butt out the car window. another of my friends got pulled over for throwing a *kleenex* out the car window. the boredom of the local law enforecement is directly proportional to the age and cruft the laws they choose to enforce.

Re: Judge Upholds Michigan's Anti-Swearing Law (none / 0) (#11)
by RangerElf on Sat Feb 19, 2000 at 07:46:32 PM EST

So it's OK to throw trash out on the street? Wait wait, I know you're gonna say But it was only a cigarette butt / kleenex, but then there'd have to be a rule like You're allowed to throw 15 gr. of trash on the street per day, so then you'd have cops with scales, and to keep you under that 15 gram limit, etc.

Better that nobody throw any kind of trash on the street, keeps everything nice and clean. And it isn't like it's hellishly hard, damn, just mash the butt in the ashtray (for those of you who smoke) or keep a little plastic bag in the car for bits of paper, kleenex and stuff, and throw it in the trash when you get home.

"Freedom" also entails "responsability", both go hand in hand; else it'd be "privilege", which is by definition unfair to those who don't enjoy it.

As for the cursing (returning to the topic), I agree with the judge. You are right in saying the man didn't know the woman and the children were there, but also, even though he may be "free" to say such things, the kids (and the lady) isn't under an obligation to listen to them. Also, HE was in a place where it's punishable. So, like the saying "when in rome do as the romans", I'd think it was his obligation to be careful about it. And, last time I checked, cursing was at the very least quite impolite. One must be a tad careful, lest one offend the wrong person.

Reminds me a little of people who drive offensively, after the crash they hide behind "it wasn't my fault", but that means absolutely nothing if you're already in the hospital, or dead.



[ Parent ]
Re: Judge Upholds Michigan's Anti-Swearing Law (none / 0) (#12)
by schifter on Sun Feb 20, 2000 at 09:30:13 AM EST

okay, two things. first of all, have you ever seen a kleenex when it gets wet? they disintegrate. so i'm not even going to consider something like that littering. second, in reference to the cigarette, my friend was driving, and was almost fined for the *passenger* tossing the butt out the window.

the issue is, i've been on the highway and seen people toss whole fast food bags out the window, with a police car behind them. they didn't get stopped. it's all about whether the cop is bored enough to enforce silly laws like that.

[ Parent ]
Judge Upholds Michigan's Anti-Swearing Law | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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