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English town bans swearing, introduces $120 fines

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An English town is planning to ban swearing and implement huge fines for those caught cursing, reported Heat Street (UK).

Councillors in Rochdale, near Manchester, want to charge foul-mouthed residents and visitors up to £100 ($122) if they are caught using words outlawed by a new legal ruling.
The same rules are also due to outlaw playing loud music, begging, skateboarding and drinking in public, all of which would be punishable by on-the-spot fines.

Free speech activists have attacked the the council over the plan, which will be given legal force by a Public Space Protection Order – a new power granted to local government to ban anti-social habits.
If “offenders” fail to pay the initial fines, they could be taken to court and ultimately face pay-outs of up to £1,000 ($1,220).

Public Space Protection Orders are written up by individual councils, and can include almost anything.
Some English towns have banned people from gathering in groups of more than two people and others have implemented rules than stop teenagers leaving their homes at night.

Council bosses have argued that the rules are necessary to ensure a “vibrant, family-friendly and attractive place for everyone” and will only target an anti-social “small minority” in the town.

The terminology in Rochdale’s order which covers swearing does not specify individual words, instead relying on the vague categorization of “foul and abusive language”.

As such, activists say, the law is especially dangerous because people have no idea whether something they’re about to say is illegal or not.

A spokesman for the campaign group Liberty told the Manchester Evening News: “The swearing ban is so vaguely defined it would prove impossible for anyone to know whether they were breaking the law or not, while a blanket ban on begging will criminalise some of the most vulnerable people in the town.”

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Tags: UK, swearing, Rochdale
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