Monday, 17 May 2010

If you don't like it, don't pay attention

Fuck.

Yet police departments across the United States, specifically in Pennsylvania, New York and probably many other places, arrest people for swearing.

But that is considered profanity. Apparently law enforcement confuses that with obscenity, which is pretty different. Compare these two definitions I got from the Mac OS X dictionary:
obscene |əbˈsiːn|
adjective
(of the portrayal or description of sexual matters) offensive or disgusting by accepted standards of morality and decency
I think this is what law enforcement is supposed to arrest people for. But the arrest rates are higher because the cops actually arrest for the following:
profane |prəˈfeɪn|
adjective
  1. relating or devoted to that which is not sacred or biblical; secular rather than religious
  2. (of a person or their behaviour) not respectful of orthodox religious practice; irreverent
So there you have your differences. Unfortunately, there exist a significant number of people in the United States who are so idiotic that they cannot distinguish the two, much like not being able to drive at 200 km/h (125 mph) on highways without getting into accidents.

In fact, the original story says that a woman in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania was arrested for shouting a swear word at a motorcyclist. I am going to guess that the two vehicles came a little too close, but in any case, it had nothing to do with sex, as the two drivers probably don't know each other. It had nothing to do with indecency either, as a driver would probably be noticed immediately, either by another driver or a cop, of his/her state of dress.

In addition, the article also states that the courts have repeatedly found that "profanity [⋯] is protected speech." The United States Supreme Court agrees:
Obscenity, under the Supreme Court's definition, refers to speech that mainly appeals to the "prurient interest" in sex, according to the ACLU.
Swearing aside, some people seem to take it upon themselves and harass a person who they think is being annoying when the accused is simply expressing their thoughts to a wider audience.  Maybe the accused does it a little too much on one medium (Facebook statuses, for example).  Whatever the case, unless your local laws do not have a freedom of speech provision, if you don't like it, don't pay attention.

Suck it motherfuckers.