Pennsylvania ends tickets for cursing at a police officer

According to Maryclaire Dale of the Associated Press,

Firing off a few four-letter words can’t be charged as a crime anymore in Pennsylvania — at least when state police are involved.

State police have agreed to stop citing the public for cursing as part of a settlement Tuesday of a federal free-speech lawsuit.

The American Civil Liberties Union represents Pennsylvanians who have been ticketed for cursing at an overflowing toilet, a swerving motorcyclist and a parking ticket issuer.  The citations can lead to hundreds of dollars in fines and legal costs, not to mention the occasional jail stint.

“Using profanity toward someone, whether an officer or not, is just not one of those things that you can put someone in jail for,” ACLU lawyer Mary Catherine Roper said Tuesday. “It may not be very smart, but you have a constitutional right to do that.”

Yet state troopers issued more than 700 disorderly conduct citations for swearing in a recent one-year span, and local police hundreds more, the ACLU learned during the court case.

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court years ago deemed such speech legal as long as it’s neither threatening nor obscene, Roper said.

More can be read here.

Also, Reason covered this topic, too.

Score for freedom of speech and blowing off some steam at the police (but use your best judgment)!

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