Wednesday, January 5, 2011
According to this ACLU press release, the Pennsylvania State Police will no longer charge folks with disorderly conduct for cussing in public:
The lawsuit involved Lona Scarpa, a Mocanaqua (Luzerne County) resident and mother of three. In October 2008, she and a friend were out walking when a motorcyclist who knew them drove past, swerving close as if to hit them, and shouted an insult. Scarpa responded by calling the motorcyclist an "asshole." That same day, she reported the incident to the Pennsylvania State Police, who serve as local law enforcement in the town. In addition to citing the motorcyclist, a state trooper mailed her a disorderly conduct citation for yelling "asshole." The citation noted that if convicted, she could face as much as ninety days and a fine up to $300. Scarpa challenged her conviction before a district magistrate and won, after hiring a lawyer to defend her.
"Getting the state police to go from 750 unconstitutional citations per year to zero will be difficult, but hopefully between the new internal controls and ACLU vigilance state troopers will learn you can't charge someone for sending a message just because it includes profanity," said ACLU-PA Legal Director Witold Walczak.