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Local News

What the f—k? It’s a crime to read this headline in the US

Cursing in Arlington Virginia could cost you $250 if the city’s strict new profanity laws are enforced.

By Jessica Leahy
Are you a fan of letting a swear word slip after a toe kick or a coffee spill? Well that little cuss will cost you, depending on where you utter it.
In the headlines is Arlington Virginia and its decision to punish potty mouths with a fine that has been raised from $100 to $250. The new changes were handed down this past weekend after the county’s board adopted regulations that would class cursing in public as a Class 4 misdemeanour.
The “blue language” ordinance came at the request of the Arlington Police Department which also suggested changes to the public intoxication laws after making 664 arrests for public inebriation in 2014 alone.
According to the boards memo the amendment means that a first time “profanely cursing in any public place” offence is subject to a fine and puts swearing in the same category as public intoxication and possession of a Schedule VI drug.
But it appears the new profanity laws won’t bring in the big bucks for the county with Dustin Sternbeck, a spokesperson for the Arlington police, stating “It is not the intention of the police to issue summons or seek out people using profanity in public.”
According to the Arlington County Police Department, in 2014 just four people were arrested for their use of flagrant language. In two of those incidents parents had called to police on people swearing in front of children and those fined refused to curb their cussing when the police arrived.
But before sitting in the land girt by sea and tisk-tisking about those Americans and their bloody sensibilities perhaps you should be reminded that, depending on what state you are in, swearing is a finable offence in Oz too.
Education Minister Christopher Pyne.
While we all remember Education Minister Christopher Pyne’s C-bomb last year in parliament – he says he said ‘grub’ but he totally didn’t – it might be good to note that most Australian states and territories have laws regulating offensive language.
You see, while the minister didn’t face prosecution for his four letter slip back in the state he slithered out of, South Australia abusive or insulting language in public can warrant a fine of up to $1,250 or three months imprisonment.
In NSW police have been able to issue $500 on the spot fines for offensive language in public since March 2014 and offensive language provisions in both Queensland and Victoria may result in imprisonment for up to six months.
So, before you go on a verbal blue streak in public, be careful, you may be in breach of the bloody law.
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