Some folks swear by their home appliances. Some folks swear at them, particularly when they are malfunctioning. In Scranton, Pennsylvania, the use of such offensive languageâ€”even in the relative comfort of one’s own homeâ€”is apparently a criminal offense, as the following news story from the Associated Press (via the First Amendment Center) details:
SCRANTON, Pa. â€” Talk about a potty mouth.
A Scranton woman who shouted profanities at her overflowing toilet within earshot of a neighbor was cited for disorderly conduct.
Dawn Herb could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300.
“It doesn’t make any sense. I was in my house. It’s not like I was outside or drunk,” Herb told The Times-Tribune of Scranton. “The toilet was overflowing and leaking down into the kitchen and I was yelling (for my daughter) to get the mop.”
Herb doesn’t recall exactly what she said, but she admitted letting more than a few choice words fly near an open bathroom window on the night of Oct. 11.
Her next-door neighbor, a city police officer who was off-duty at the time, asked her to keep it down, police said. When she continued, the officer called police, who charged Herb with disorderly conduct.
Mary Catherine Roper, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union in Philadelphia, took issue with the citation.
“You can’t prosecute somebody for swearing at a cop or a toilet,” she said. “We bring one of these cases a year and sue some police departments because they do not remember that they are not the language police.” [link]