Comments about ‘Profanity penalty: Ogden ordinance tries to quiet swearing in city parks’

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Published: Wednesday, Aug. 8 2012 8:54 p.m. MDT

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American Fork, UT

Oh, my heck!!

Farmington, UT

So this is patterned after a West Valley City ordinance? They are the same folks that introduced the 4-day work week for local government; you know, the model Huntsman followed by reducing services from the State of Utah by 20% to residents. Some very high profile people that were forced to leave West Valley, and who were responsible for their incredible amounts of debt, were very quickly hired by Ogden City. When are we going to learn that West Valley is no model of ethical behavior, per se, or getting things right for the way government ought to be exercised, and quit following the blind as we fall into the ditch together? Ogden needs to solve their own problems and arrive at a proper solution; West Valley has plenty of their own issuers with which to deal. There are great folks in both cities, by the way, so maybe the politicians should ask their stalwart residents for solutions. Now that would be a novel approach to governing, wouldn't it?

Far East USA, SC

"The use of profanity, Brown explained, wouldn't be illegal unless the language becomes disruptive to others."

Good luck with consistent enforcement of that.

I can assure you that hearing any swear word could be considered "disruptive to others"

This is another overreach that will cause more problems than it solves.

Lets see if the "get govt out of our lives" crowd shows up in force on this one. Not confident.

Huntsville, UT

Didn't we recently have an eat-in at Chic-fil-A over the right of "free speech"?

Shouldn't we now have a "swear-in" in public parks to support free speech?

West Jordan, UT

I attended my son's lacrosse game last year, and we had to put up with a father from the other team who spent most of the game berating the officials and using every word in the book. He was so irate his face was red, and I seriously thought he was going to have a heart attack. The official who was receiving the brunt of his abuse was young, probably 17. It was wrong that the officials, the boys on the field, and the rest of the spectators had to put up with this man's behavior and language. I wonder if there was a law against it, if he would have tried to keep himself in check. It is hard to say. I wish I had had the authority to remove him from the field; I would have done it in a heartbeat.

Medical Lake, Washington

I think that overall the desired outcome is commendable, but I have doubts about its enforceability; at least in a meaningful way.

It would be a more simple problem to solve if its origins were city parks. But it's not. Profanity has been an increasing part of society for the past several decades. Once banned on television, it is now allowed. Off color speech which once resulted in a stern lecture and occasionally followed up by a soap job is now all the rave.

When working in my garden, it does no good to simply trim the weeds. Maybe, as suggested, local citizens will have some doable solutions. More than likely, this, like so many issues plaguing society, it begins in the home and that is where it must be corrected. Fining people at the park, though filling city coffers, will do little more than incite resentment and inspire rebellion.

Salt Lake City, UT

Days like these, I am thankful for the existence of The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. The 10th Circuit -- "restoring the Constitution which Utah shreds".

Western Rover

Why doesn't the referee simply dock points from the team that has an out-of-control fan (perhaps after issuing a warning), and if necessary disqualify the team? Of course, once that happens there will be more swearing, but the idea is that it would usually never get to that point.

Then you don't need to pass an ordinance and spend a lot of taxpayer money defending it against the inevitable challenge to its constitutionality. Whether the city wins or loses that fight, the taxpayers will lose either way.

Powell, OH

Hope they have lots of money to defend themselves in Court. Freedom of Speech lawsuits coming. I'll go and swear and use the defense of "I was just quoting J. Golden Kimball", the Mormon Swearing Apostle.

no fit in SG
St.George, Utah

Recall listening to city worker's colorful language as they sliced their fingers while repairing a sprinkler.
Are they exempt?

terra nova
Park City, UT

Profane speech, by definition, is abusive. Abuse is wrong. But is it the word itself which abuses? Or is it the intent of the speaker? Or is it the sensitivity of the person who feels abused or assaulted by language?

I know a man with a good heart who frequently used profane language. It is his way. He might refer to someone with genuine affection as a "little s---." Some people might define this as abuse. Some would be offended by his language.

I know his heart and let it go. He means nothing bad by it. There are others who would not be inclined to let it pass. And isn't the lack of desire to "let it go" just a little unholy? Isn't a little profane? Isn't it also just a little abusive?

There are those who do not spake profane words, but their actions are profane. They are the hypocrites, the modern-day Pharisees who "make a man an offender for a word." (Isaiah 29:21) They are those that employ "unrighteous dominion" (see D&C 121) typical of religious zealots in a white-hot rage.

Let's work together to avoid profane any behavior.


Western Rover: What a marvelous solution. let the sponsoring league handle the problem, penalizing the team and/or stopping the game would make much more sense than an almost unenforceable city ordinance. How would the city enforce this if the police weren't there. I have been to many youth sporting events held at the public parks, and almost never seen an officer in attendance unless they had a child particpating. If your advice was made policy by the leagues, there may be an issue the first time, but not many times after that. A much better idea than a city ordinance!

Provo, UT

Anyone up to go to this park and take part in a Swear Fest? When all the snobs are sitting down with their families we will turn to each other and start debating the ordinance using every profane and obscene word we can think of and do so in as heated of a manner as City Councilmen debate. The only difference with our rude behavior will be that we use profanity while councilmen just propose violating our rights which are fighting words worse than profanity.

Anne26 sums up the attitude behind this ordinance, "I wish I had had the authority to remove him from the field; I would have done it in a heartbeat."

Maybe this man would like to remove her from the field? It's all about control, domination and power with people like this which is why those like her currently serve on the council. They run for those offices because they want the POWER over others who they find offensive. Let's make it a crime for City Councilman to start fights with citizens by disagreeing with us verbally and harassing us in ways that offend our sensibilities.

Provo, UT

ulvegaard is right that "Fining people at the park, though filling city coffers, will do little more than incite resentment and inspire rebellion."

I rarely use profanity and have never done so in public but the proposal of this ordinance fires up my libertarian streak and my willingness to challenge authoritarians by doing what they make illegal because they are powerless to do so on a personal level. I don't find the words of others offensive or crude simply because they are considered profane or obscene by snobs. Liberty includes the liberty to swear and it's not disturbing the peace to resort to profanity in a disagreement with someone. If the city can't prove assault they should NOT be creating laws that criminalize speech which does not constitute assault. If the argument is that profanity may cause someone to resort to violence then it's the violence that is wrong and not the speech which incited it. He's right that such laws INCITE rebellion and profanity is a healthy way to vent our anger at authoritarians even if we shouldn't swear. Preferable to violence they incite with such laws.

salt lake, UT

So if the problem is people getting loud and verbally aggressive why limit it to only swear words?there are plenty of good utah folks that know how to get very verbally aggressive without actually swearing. the words flip and heck are two words that come to mind. Beyond clearly violating free speech rights it is also vague and of target.

Murray, UT

I would suggest that Ogden City get a legal opinion about the constitutionality of the proposed profanity ordinance. And if that opinion does not come back that the proposed law is unconstitutional, then they need to hire another attorney or put aside a whole lot of money to defend the very questionable ordinance in federal court. I am not a fan of profanity, but what is described in this article is so subjective that saying one swear word could trigger a call to the police. I know many people who are offended if they here even one profane word. This is just an expensive mistake on the part of the City.

David B.
Cedar City, UT

Why do these people want to infringe on free speech? Now there are places you can't say certain things in certain areas because it would create a panic and cause injuries like yelling fire in a theatre.But really the police have enough on their plates in protecting the people then have to be referee's between two people get in a childish battle over words.Granted they act like children when they do this but all should know better.

Salt Lake City, Utah

Re: RanchHand Huntsville, UT
"Didn't we recently have an eat-in at Chic-fil-A over the right of "free speech"?"

Decent people show respect for women and children by controlling their mouths in public. There will always be those who try to make this world a better place for others, and there will always be those who want to make this world a more ugly place.

Certainly people should have the 2nd Amendment right to use foul language .... but why would anybody want to?

Salt Lake City, Utah

I know plenty of people who are very intimidating and in-your-face aggressive who don't feel the need to use a single swear word or swear word lite (flip, darn, etc.) to achieve their end.

If the concern is aggression and fighting, let's address aggression and fighting.

Pretending that the only words that lead to fights are swear words is ignoring reality.

Provo, UT

Rifleman, your definition of ugly is wrong. It has nothing to do with women or children instead it's ugly that people who have always felt powerful, liked or respected in their life getting so upset with people using profanity because it offends their sensibilities.

I'm sorry if you don't want your wife and kids to see just how angry you can make someone but maybe you shouldn't use the power you have in ways that make people angry instead of blaming those who get upset when you do.

You ask why people might want to use foul language. Look around you. Look at what people have to put up with everyday in this country. Everyday people use their right to vote in ways that make them angry but they are powerless to punish them for their votes so people who have had to endure the abuse take it out in other ways. What do you expect? They can't swear at the Mayor in a City Council meeting so they do it when the kid of the uppity snob defeats their kids at a game.

They aren't angry over a game but at snobs

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