ACLU Successfully Defends Woman’s Right to Swear

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Sources are reporting that Dawn Herb, who as you may recall was cited for disorderly conduct in 2007 after a neighbor heard her swearing at her toilet, has settled her lawsuit against the city of Scranton, Pennsylvania.  Ms. Herb, who I'm going to again call "Dawn" because calling her "Herb" seems weird, filed the lawsuit after a judge found her not guilty of the toilet-harassment charges, ruling that while the language she had used might have been "vulgar," under the circumstances it was protected speech.

Dawn was trying to fix an overflowing toilet when this constitutional crisis began.  Frustrated with the appliance, she unleashed a few F-bombs at it, which were overheard by neighbor Patrick Gilman through an open window.  Gilman, an off-duty police officer, heroically called for backup, though not before (according to Dawn) demanding that she "shut the f___ up."  The officer who arrived cited Dawn for disorderly conduct, but the case against her was thrown out last December.

"It's clear the city was wrong," Dawn was quoted as saying after this week's settlement.  "[H]owever, I'm glad that I was able to fight for my rights.  In the end, I found justice."  (Well, in the end, you found $19,000 — although that does smell an awful lot like justice.)  ACLU attorneys said the result was another victory for First Amendment rights.  "If we don't have the freedom to use a few choice words inside our own homes," said Valerie Burch, "then we really don't have much freedom at all."  News flash: we really don't have much freedom at all.  But at least we do still have the treasured right, so precious to the Founders, to swear at our furniture.

Link: AP via
Link: ACLU of Pennsylvania