Terry Duncan climbed aboard a Milwaukee bus and started lacing his conversation with a fellow rider with a string of four-letter Anglo Saxon monosyllables of the "s..." and "f..." persuasion.
Then he found out you can't do that in Milwaukee. And faster than you can say, "no shit, Sherlock," he found himself tossed off the bus and fined almost $500.[jump]
An undercover deputy had caught a whiff of Duncan's odious language and charged to the defense of the delicate ears aboard the No. 80 bus.
"I cursed, and it cost me $500. Are you serious? Where in America do you get charged $500 for two words?" an outraged Duncan asked a local TV station.
Lots of places -- at least seven other states -- it turns out.
Besides the Milwaukee bus rules, Wisconsin also has a disorderly conduct statute that prohibits "violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, unreasonably loud or otherwise disorderly conduct" when it provokes or causes a disturbance. There's even a law against profanity on the telephone if it's used to try and frighten or intimidate people.
And there's never a shortage of headlines about the profanity prone getting their comeuppance. A few from this year:
New York City high school teacher Carlos Garcia recently drew a $15,000 fine and a suspension after being accused of using the Spanish word for "c---" in front of students. He denies the accusation, and besides, what's the big deal anyway? "It's an average, everyday word," his lawyer says.
In Connecticut, students in the town of Windsor who cuss out a teacher, or other students on school grounds can be cited by Windsor Police and ticketed for Creating a Public Disturbance. The fine is $103.00.
New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs got popped by the NFL for $20,000 after he cast florid aspersions on rival fans in Philadelphia. And that was before the Giants lost 27-127 to the Eagles. God knows what he said after the final whistle.
And the Celtics' Glen "Big Baby" Davis drew a $25,000 fine for cussing out a Detroit Pistons fan earlier this year, evidently because he was getting tired of the guy calling him "fat boy" and "chubs during the game. Davis stands 6' 9" and weighs 289 pounds. That's a lot of cuss.
Our favorite news item, however, comes from the town of Twisp, Wash., where a proposed law from police chief Rob Hall would allow fines not only for residents who use abusive language, but also for those who just act plain old mean.
Terry Duncan may think he's an All-American guy when he curses a blue streak. But he don't know shit from shinola when it comes to getting your mouth washed out with soap by the law.