Right to Wrong Speech

[Summary: follow up to a blog on Right Speech last month, where a woman was arrested for shouting swearwords. At her toilet. Court case results]

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Last month I blogged up the story of a woman in the U.S. who was arrested for swearing at her toilet while in her own home. The toilet had overflowed and she was yelling for someone to bring her a mop, when a passing policeman told her to keep it down. After being offered a choice reflection himself, he arrested her …. anyway the story is HERE.

Now the court case is over and it seems that Americans have a right to wrong speech, enshrined in their constitution. The woman was let off the hook, although one imagines that she was rather more nicely spoken to the judge:

Dawn Herb, 31, of Scranton, Pennsylvania, was charged after an off duty police officer overheard her swear at an overflowing toilet.

Officer Patrick Gilman told the hearing he heard someone yell: “Are you f***ing retarded? Get me the f***ing mop.

Patrolman Gilman said he then yelled, “Watch your mouth“, to which the person replied: “F*** off“!

He then called Patrolman Gerald Tallo, who was on duty at the time, who charged Ms Herb after she admitted cursing at her toilet.

But District Judge Terrence Gallagher has now ruled she did nothing wrong, reports the Scranton Times-Tribune.

He dismissed the disorderly conduct charge which could have led to up to 90 days in jail and a £150 fine.

The language she used “may be considered by some to be offensive, vulgar and imprudent” but she was entitled to use it under the First Amendment, the judge ruled.

Attorney Barry Dyller, who was asked to represent Ms Herb by the American Civil Liberties Union, said Judge Gallagher made the right decision.

“He’s exactly right in his reasoning,” Mr. Dyller said. “And it’s important that the public understands this. There are cases like this each year.”

Incidentally, don’t try this in the U.K. – swearing at policemen is a criminal offense there. The story comes from the ever excellent Ananova, Quirkies section. You can see a picture of her too, along with the offending toilet HERE.

Even if the courts rule that you have a right to use wrong speech, it does not mean that your wife will let you use it unpunished. A lesson learned the hard way by a husband in Georgia:

Police were called to a house in the US after a woman knocked out her husband with a potato.

She picked up the spud and threw it at him when he called her a rude name during a row in Nicholson, Georgia.

The potato hit him square in the nose and knocked him out cold, reports Metro News.

The pair had started to argue in the kitchen in the early hours of Thanksgiving morning after they had been drinking.

The 43-year-old woman said she didn’t mean to hit her husband and called police as soon as he fell unconscious.

The husband decided not to press charges – seems they are best ‘spuddies’ again.

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About Cittasamvaro

Auto blogography of an urban monk
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