What’s with the state of Victoria? They’re modifying their decades-old anti-profanity law so you can be fined on the spot.
The Victorian Government plans to introduce laws this week that will give police permanent power to issue on-the-spot fines to people who swear.
If I were fined for public swearing, I’d be fined twice, because the next thing I’d say is “Are you fucking kidding me?”
Under the proposed legislation, people could be fined close to $240 for language that is considered indecent or offensive.
Considered offensive by who? The local constable? The organist at church? Are ‘damn’ and ‘hell’ swearing? Is ‘bullshit’ on the shit list? What about racial terms of abuse that are offensive, but not actually profane? This opens up some tricky issues of definition, and more worryingly, controlling the language behaviour of the public.
And how are they going to enforce it? Oh, right. Ad hoc.
The Attorney-General, Robert Clark, confessed to a bit of colourful language himself yesterday. “Occasionally I mutter things under my breath, as probably everyone does,” he told ABC radio. “But this law is not targeted at that. It’s targeted at the sort of obnoxious, offensive behaviour in public that makes life unpleasant for everybody else.”
Well, swearing in public can be unpleasant, to be sure, but so can a lot of public activities, like farting or shirtlessness. Will they be illegal, too?
I don’t know, Victoria. Fining people for swearing is so Puritan. They used to bore a red-hot poker through your tongue for blasphemy, including profanity.
I’d say there’s an opportunity for some civil disobedience here. Could they fine everyone in a mass swear-in? What if we form a huge choir and sing Tim Minchin’s Pope Song? Or, if we don’t want to spend the money, we could taunt police by saying ‘Bloody crap! It’s hot today!’ The possibilities are many.