Monday, December 17, 2007

A Constitutionally protected potty-mouth?

I just saw this story over at the Southtown Star. Almost hilarious but then I suppose I'm glad about it too. I understand that there are those who consider profane/foul/vulgar language quite offensive or problematic, should a person be cited, fined, or even arrested for it?

woman who was cited for loudly cursing at her overflowing toilet - and then at a neighbor who told her to quiet down - has been acquitted on First Amendment grounds.

District Judge Terrence Gallagher dismissed the disorderly conduct charge against Dawn Herb, 33, ruling she was within her rights when she let loose a string of profanities Oct. 11.

Although the language she used "may be considered by some to be offensive, vulgar and imprudent ... (it is) protected speech pursuant to the First Amendment," the judge wrote.

Herb was cited after Patrick Gilman, a police officer who lives near Herb, called authorities to complain.

At a hearing Monday, Gilman testified that he was at home, off duty, when his 12-year-old daughter ran in and said she had heard loud curses coming from a house down the street.

Gilman said he went outside, heard the bad language and yelled out to Herb to "watch your mouth." He said that she cursed at him instead. That's when Gilman called authorities.

In Pennsylvania, someone can be convicted of disorderly conduct for using obscene language in a way that causes "public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm."

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