Aussies residing in their country’s second most populated state, Victoria, should wash their mouths with soap before policemen cleanse their pockets with fines. Lawmakers are out to clear Australian air of excessively vulgar discourse and swearing. Later this week, the state plans to implement a legal measure that will allow police officers to issue on-the-spot tickets to all agents and sources of such vile of noise pollution.
Proponents of fines up to $240 (Australian dollars) for swearing wrongdoers say that the new law could be beneficial for the legal system as a whole. Logistically, punishing such belligerent, disruptive and hostile behavior at the scene of the ‘crime’ could be a more efficient means of punishment in place of long, expensive judicial proceedings that clog the courts. Additional support comes from worried mommies and daddies who desire to keep such linguistic offenses out of the ears of their children.
Of course, there are those who find the law absurd not only in its content, but in terms of its practical implementation. To what extent is the notion of profanity tangible enough for law makers to be able to quantify and measure it? Will policemen slap a fine on a mouth that cursed eight times, but have mercy on one that only released five bad words? Victoria’s Attorney-General Robert Clark attempted to offer clarity where these minor distinctions were concerned. Clark said the law, “was not aimed at minor outbursts, but rather curbing ‘the sort of obnoxious, offensive behavior in public that makes life unpleasant for everybody else.'”
On this premise, is the swearing law really similar to others which consider public satisfaction and consolation? For example, the US has various state laws that prohibit smoking in some public places. The concern here, however, is second hand smoke- a grave and legitimate health concern rather than a regard for listener’s discomfort. As trivial as the law may seem, those dwelling in Victoria should make their speech as child-friendly as possible and save a few bucks.