|I said a bad word this morning after I stepped on my dog’s bone with bare feet. I’m not telling you the bad word because some of you live in states or countries where cursing is illegal. Just my luck, you will be reading this aloud in a public place and the curse police will hear you. Next thing you know I’m an accessory to an expletive and facing a fine, jail, or community service. No, I just can’t take that chance.
You see, some of you live in Virginia. And until July 1st, it’s still illegal to curse in Virginia. It’s been that way since 1792 when the original fine was 83¢ ($22.36 in today’s dollars). Oddly, the law doesn’t specify what words are illegal to say. And as curses have evolved over time, so if I say goat’s jig today, most of you would look at me like I’m an idiot. Say it in 1792, and I’m shelling out 83¢.
But in February, the Virginia legislature voted to kill this law. Still, the Commonwealth isn’t the only place in the US where it’s illegal to curse. Mississippi still has an anti-cursing law that can run you $100 or 30 days in jail. And while some of these laws are relics of past eras. But Raritan, NJ actually passed their anti-swearing law in 1994. And in 2012, Middleborough, MA passed its law.
Some of these laws are just odd. In Long Beach, it’s illegal to curse on a golf course. I’m not a golfer, but my understanding is your handicap is the number of times you’re allowed to curse per hole.
In Rockville, Maryland, it’s illegal to curse from a vehicle. I’m not sure they really thought this through. Do citizens of Rockville want drivers to get out of the car and curse at each other for failing to merge? I don’t think so.
And the swearing bans aren’t confined to the U.S. There are places in Australia where you can’t swear. Doing so in the United Arab Emirates can get you jailed or deported. In Baguio City (Philippines) it’s illegal to curse where children frequent. Opponents of the law argued that places where children frequent induce cursing, but their protests were ignored. Now, they mutter under their breath anytime they’re within 100 feet of a library, park, or whatever the Philippine equivalent of Chucky Cheese is.
So be careful where you curse. Or make up your own curse words. As for me, I’m looking up curse words from the 1700s and making stacks of 83 pennies.
Carry on, Citizens!
photo credit: rosefirerising Good @*!!#@! Morning via photopin (license)