Thursday, December 20, 2007

Tough crowd there in Scranton

In what could be a redefinition of the phrase “Potty Mouth,” Scranton, PA, resident Dawn Herb escaped a jail term and a hefty fine. Her crime was swearing at an overflowing toilet.

Off-duty police officer Patrick Gilman overheard Herb shouting profanities and yelled “Watch your mouth.” Herb replied: “F... Off.”

On-duty Patrolman Gerald Tallo was called in, and after Herb admitted to cursing her toilet she was charged with disorderly conduct. A conviction could have cost her 90 days in jail and a hefty fine.

District Judge Terrence Gallagher has now ruled she did nothing wrong, reports the Scranton Times-Tribune. The language she used “may be considered by some to be offensive, vulgar and imprudent” but she was entitled to use it under the First Amendment, the judge ruled.

We can all breathe easier knowing that our First Amendment rights have been upheld in Scranton. But, I have several things that bother me about this case. My original question was, why was the offended Officer Gilman so close to Ms Herb’s bathroom to be able to hear the naughty language? It turns out that Officer Gilman and Ms Herb are neighbors. Have Officers Gilman and Tallo led such sheltered lives that they have never had contact with the F-bomb? Perhaps neither have been to the movies lately. That doesn’t make it right, but hardly an offense worthy of jail time.

It would seem that we are rapidly losing our individual freedoms, even the potential to cuss out the errant toilet in our own homes. Next, it will be the thought police.