A Crackdown on Cursing in Public?

Swearing in public has become common for most Americans, es­pecially among teens and young adults. Cursing while driving and during conversations, the scenarios are endless. While some consider cursing to be a sin or taboo others are voicing their First Amendment rights to swear in public. Has our swearing soci­ety gone too far?

Middleborough, Massachusetts thinks so. During a town meet­ing on June 11, 2012, residents of Middleborough voted 183-50 to make their foul-mouthed neigh­bors pay fines for public profan­ity. Residents encouraged the proposal by the chief of police to impose a $20 fine for swearing in public. It was made clear that this new law was not intended to cen­sor casual or private conversa­tions, but rather to control loud, offensive language primarily used by teens and young adults in public settings.

However, the line that con­stitutes a word as a curse word seems to become more and more blurred each day. Over time, words that were once thought to be vulgar have evolved into words that we say and hear on a daily basis, becoming less of­fensive and less harsh than the meanings that they were once as­sociated with.

Many now believe swear words do an outstanding job of express­ing strong feelings because other words fail to communicate. For example, “What the heck are you doing?” doesn’t seem to ex­emplify the same feelings and emotions as “What the f*** are you doing?!”

The Corpus of Contemporary American English found that of the 5,000 most commonly used English words, the F-word ranked in at 4,655. Four other curse words also made it onto the list. Does this mean Americans are just overly expressive?

It seems that cursing has be­come a part of our language. John McWhorter, opinion writer for CNN.com, describes our common use of profanity as “col­orful.” He supposes that our soci­ety is simply more informal than it was when our grandparents were our age. It is difficult to say whether this is positive or nega­tive for our society. But it seems that Middleborough is taking a few steps in the wrong direc­tion by demolishing their speech rights to avoid cursing in public from time to time.

In this day and age, it is chal­lenging to understand why peo­ple are offended by our everyday swear words when they seem to be used more often than not, but Middleborough has demon­strated that there are people out there who do get offended when they hear profanity, so everyone should keep that in mind.

While I encourage you to prac­tice your freedom of speech, be courteous to those who do not care to hear your foul-mouthed thoughts. If you are old enough to curse, you are old enough to know when it is not appropriate. A word of advice: if you would not say it to your grandma, do not shout it in public.