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No More Language Police For Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Inquirer via YellowBrix

January 05, 2011

PHILADELPHIA – You gotta be f – - – - – - – kidding!

The Pennsylvania State Police agreed yesterday as part of settlement to a federal lawsuit to stop issuing disorderly-conduct citations to citizens who use profanity.

The lawsuit was filed last May by the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania on behalf of Lona Scarpa, a mother of three from Mocanaqua, Luzerne County.

Mary Catherine Roper, an ACLU attorney, said Scarpa was nearly run off the road by a motorcyclist while she was going for a stroll with a pal in 2008.

Roper said Scarpa responded by calling the motorcyclist an “a – - hole,” and calling police to report the biker for reckless driving.

And then something unf – - – - n’ believable happened: the State Police cited Scarpa for disorderly conduct, and warned her she could face a $300 fine and 90 days in jail for cursing.

“Of all the things we want our police doing, it’s not playing Miss Manners,” Roper said.

“The law has been settled for many years; you can’t cite someone for using profanity. What the state police were lacking was proper training.”

Roper said the State Police had issued 770 citations for profanity from 2008 to 2009, mostly in rural areas.

The State Police agreed to provide better free-speech training to its troopers, Roper said.


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