Man plans protest of Mass. town's cursing fine
MIDDLEBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- A Marine veteran is urging people to join him for a profanity-laden protest of Middleborough's recently approved fine on public cursing.
Adam Kokesh plans to hold the protest Monday outside Middleborough Town Hall, the Brockton Enterprise reported Saturday. He has encouraged followers of his Internet podcast to bring bullhorns for the "swear-in."
"I don't think we should be loud or disruptive," Kokesh said. "... I hope I get a citation. I'm not expecting to get arrested, but I'm ready for it."
Kokesh, 30, publishes podcasts online from a studio in Virginia. The self-described libertarian said the protest is needed to defend freedom of speech. He said he hopes 200 people participate.
Residents in Middleborough voted nearly 4 to 1 this month to approve a proposal from the police chief to impose a $20 fine on public profanity.
Police won't be able to write tickets for swearing in public until the state attorney general's office determines whether the new bylaw is constitutional.
Officials say the proposal was intended to crack down on loud, off-color language used by teens and other young people in the downtown area and public parks. The ordinance gives police discretion over whether to ticket someone if they believe the cursing ban has been violated.
The rule made national news and prompted a flurry of phone calls to town hall.
Police Chief Bruce D. Gates said no one has formally notified his department about Monday's protest, which does not require a permit.
"We've heard so many rumors about different things," Gates said. "We don't operate on rumors and suspicion. If something happens and we're needed, we'll be there."
Middleborough, a town of about 20,000 residents perhaps best known for its rich cranberry bogs, has had a bylaw against public profanity since 1968. But because that bylaw essentially makes cursing a crime, it has rarely if ever been enforced, officials said. The new bylaw makes cursing in public a civil offense, allowing police to write tickets as they would for a traffic violation.