The Safety and Public Welfare committee of Kenosha, WI has approved a law making it illegal to swear at a police officer.
Alderman Michael Orth, a member of the committee, said his only concern was that police officers and firefighters sometimes use strong language when dealing with a crowd and Orth did not want to see those responders liable for their comments.
Because it is already illegal to use “profane, vile, filthy or obscene” language in the city Orth is worried that a cop could curse at the citizens of Kenosha (Orth’s constituents) and get in trouble. It gets better.
Jesse Downing, chairman of the committee, said he felt this could serve as a tool for police officers to deal with unruly civilians.
“If someone’s being a knob, you can take them into custody or issue a ticket,” Downing said.
This guy thinks simply being a “knob” is at the least, a ticket worthy offense. (Knob isn’t a very nice word either, Chairman Downing)
The citizens of Kenosha better hope their City Council as a whole has better sense than the Safety and Public Welfare committee. You can’t pass a law to make people be nice, and an obscenity on its own does not constitute fighting words. This is a ridiculous attack on free speech and the elected officials of Kenosha should know better. Of course when one wants his constituents arrested for being “knobs,” what would you expect?
Also, in 2002 after reading about this case (a man was acquitted of disorderly conduct in Michigan after cursing near a boat landing), I read an article stating a judge had ruled that a person could not be charged with disorderly conduct for simply swearing at a cop as the nature of their occupation essentially warranted a thicker skin than a regular citizen. I wish I could find that now.