Communications and Society blog: By and for students in Marist COM 201

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The F-Bomb: Protected By The 1st Amendment?

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Cursing seems like a common part of modern communication.  In fact, if someone swears in front of me, I probably wouldn’t even notice unless someone pointed out that it was inappropriate.  But there are some people who are still sensitive to harsh language.  Remember when Joe Biden exclaimed that passing the health care bill was a “big fucking deal”?  Some people had an issue with that one.  But Pennsylvania has taken it to a whole new level.  They have been known to ticket or even throw in jail people who curse at a police officer.

The ACLU has taken this one into their own hands, suing the state.  Apparently, cursing is completely constitutional and protected by our first amendment rights.

“The ACLU has successfully defended about a dozen individuals against such charges, including Dawn Herb, a Scranton, Pa., woman, who swore at her clogged toilet in her home, and David Hackbart, a Pittsburgh man who “flipped off” a police officer with a middle-finger gesture in a dispute over a parking space. Hackbart’s case revealed that the Pittsburgh police had cited people for profanity about 200 times over a four-year period, and resulted in a $50,000 settlement in fall 2009.”  Read the rest.

Swearing at a police officer?  Probably won’t get you out of a speeding ticket.  But there’s nothing illegal about communicating in a harsher manner.


Written by mlamorte

May 23, 2010 at 12:06 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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