Tuesday, June 12, 2012

@#$%**!!!! Town Meeting!

Among the critics of Amherst Town Meeting, there are many who accuse it of occupying itself too much with national and global affairs (yes, we are one of those American towns and cities with a foreign policy). Few, by contrast, accuse it of meddling too much in the affairs of its citizens. If anything, we lean in the direction of protecting civil liberties, as when we passed a resolution directing town government not to cooperate in a Homeland Security program (SCOMM) that may threaten immigrant rights.

Things could be a lot worse.

Even as your Select Board was tonight conducting its regular postmortem of our recent and relatively drama-free Town Meeting, Middleborough, near Boston, took bolder action. As USA Today reports:
At a town meeting, residents voted 183-50 to approve a proposal from the police chief to impose a $20 fine on public profanity. Officials insist the proposal was not intended to censor casual or private conversations, but instead to crack down on loud, profanity-laden 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.

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, 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. 
 WTF?! Screw that bullshit.

The ACLU, predictably, came down hard on the town.

At least this sort of nonsense would never pass in Amherst. See? It could always be worse.

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