Nanny State: Massachusetts Town OKs $20 Fine for Cursing in Public

Residents in a town outside Boston recently voted to make cursing in public a crime punishable with a fine.

At a town meeting, the measured passed 183-50.

Officials say the proposal is not intended to censor casual or private conversations, but instead to stop loud, profanity-laden language used by teens and other young people in the downtown area and public parks.

“I’m really happy about it,” Mimi Duphily, a store owner and former town selectwoman, said after the vote. “I’m sure there’s going to be some fallout, but I think what we did was necessary.”

Duphily, who runs an auto parts store as well as many other downtown merchants wanted to take a stand against the kind of swearing that might make customers uncomfortable.

“They’ll sit on the bench and yell back and forth to each other with the foulest language. It’s just so inappropriate,” she said.

The measure could raise questions about free speech rights, but state law does give police the power to arrest anyone who “addresses another person with profane or obscene language” in a public place.

Matthew Segal, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, said the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the government cannot prohibit public speech just because it contains profanity.

The ordinance gives police discretion over whether to ticket someone if they believe the cursing ban has been violated.

Middleborough, a town of about 20,000 residents 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, because it simply would not merit the time and expense to pursue a case through the courts.

The ordinance would decriminalize public profanity, allowing police to write tickets as they would for a traffic violation. It would also decriminalize certain types of disorderly conduct, public drinking and marijuana use, and dumping snow on a roadway.



Mumia Abu-Jamal Taken Off Death Row

After a thirty year court battle Philadelphia prosecutors will no longer be seeking the death penalty in the case of former Black Panther Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted of killing a white police officer.

District Attorney Seth Williams announced his decision with police officer Daniel Faulkner’s widow standing by his side.

“There’s never been any doubt in my mind that Mumia Abu-Jamal shot and killed Officer Faulkner. I believe that the appropriate sentence was handed down by a jury of his peers in 1982,” said Williams, who is black. “While Abu-Jamal will no longer be facing the death penalty, he will remain behind bars for the rest of his life, and that is where he belongs.”

Abu-Jamal was convicted and sentenced to death for the fatal shooting of Faulkner on Dec. 9, 1981.

The conviction was upheld through years of legal appeals, but a federal appeals court ordered a new sentencing hearing after ruling the instructions given to the jury were potentially misleading. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to weigh in on the case in October which forced prosecutors to decide if they wanted to again pursue the death penalty or accept a life sentence.

According to trial testimony, Abu-Jamal saw his brother scuffle with the 25-year-old patrolman during a 4 a.m. traffic stop in 1981 and ran toward the scene. Police found Abu-Jamal wounded by a round from Faulkner’s gun. Faulkner was shot multiple times and killed. A .38-caliber revolver registered to Abu-Jamal was found at the scene with five spent shell casings.

Maureen and Daniel Faulkner were newlyweds when the officer was killed.

“My family and I have endured a three-decade ordeal at the hands of Mumia Abu-Jamal, his attorneys and his supporters, who in many cases never even took the time to educate themselves about the case before lending their names, giving their support and advocating for his freedom,” Maureen Faulkner said Wednesday. “All of this has taken an unimaginable physical, emotional and financial toll on each of us.”

Abu-Jamal, born Wesley Cook, turned 58 earlier this year.

Abu-Jamal, a one-time journalist, garnered worldwide support from the “Free Mumia” movement. Hundreds of vocal supporters and death-penalty opponents regularly turn out for court hearings in his case.

Over the years, Abu-Jamal has challenged the predominantly white makeup of the jury, instructions given to jurors and the statements of eyewitnesses. He has also alleged ineffective counsel, racism by the trial judge and that another man confessed to the crime.

Maureen Faulkner railed against what she called the justice system’s “dirty little secret” the difficulty of putting condemned killers to death and called the judges who overturned Abu-Jamal’s death sentence “dishonest cowards”. Pennsylvania has put to death three people since the U.S. Supreme Court restored the death penalty in 1976, and all three had willingly given up on their appeals.

“The fix is in before the hearing even begins,” she said.

Faulkner also vowed to fight anyone who tries to get special treatment for Abu-Jamal, insisting that he be moved to the general population after being taken off death row.

Cross the border and lose your 4th Amendment Rights?

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has come to the disturbing conclusion that the feds can seize digital devices, such as laptops, at the border and send them to a secondary site for inspection, all without a warrant.

The Ninth Circuit Court ruling came in a case involving a registered sex offender whose laptop was taken away from him when he reentered the country from Mexico into Lukeville, Ariz. Authorities found nothing incriminating on his computer when they first checked it, but decided to send it to Tucson because they couldn’t access many of his files due to password protections. A second search revealed child pornography and the man in question was arrested. Several lower courts agreed with the motion he later filed asking that the evidence be suppressed because it was obtained through a violation of his Fourth Amendment rights during an unreasonable search.

The Ninth Circuit Court agreed with the government’s appeal stating that the U.S. Supreme Court has recognized that all border searches are reasonable because they occur at the border. The moving of his computer off site was considered to be justified because the tools needed to do an adequate search of the laptop were not available on site.

Judge Richard Tallman made the following statement “The border search doctrine is not so rigid as to require the United States to equip every entry point no matter how desolate or infrequently traveled with inspectors and sophisticated forensics equipment.”

It’s a good thing racism is dead in Amercia, whoops, spoke to soon…

Interracial marriage was legalized in the great state of Mississippi way back in 1967 after the U.S. Supreme Court overruled the state’s laws banning it, and sadly it looks like a rather large portion of that state’s population would like to see that decision overturned.

A survey conducted  between the 24th and 27th of March this year by Public Policy Polling of Raleigh, N.C., revealed that 46% of Mississippi residents believed that interracial marriage should be outlawed. 40% percent of respondents said they thought mixed-race weddings should remain legal and 14 percent answered not sure. One person sent in a email explaining their opposition to interracial marriage as the following:

“I believe God made us a different color for a reason and should be honored by not marrying outside of the race that God picked for me, however the color of one’s skin does not make him/her better than another color.”

Who could argue with such a well thought out position?

The poll also showed that 76% of those who answered were either somewhat or very conservative while 68% of the respondents were age 46 or older.