Those who would seek to protect our morals—or at least our sensitivities—from the world around us don’t only exist in Saudi Arabia. The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice face competition in the US, as well. A South Carolina state senator, Robert Ford, has introduced a bill in his state’s congress to make it a felony to use vulgar language in public. Most dismayingly, Sen. Ford is a Democrat, the American political party that has traditionally been an ally of free speech.
You can find the text of the bill here.
1. If you say “f**ck” or, I suppose, “damn” or “sh*t” around your own teenager, you’re a felon.
2. If you give, lend, or sell a book, newspaper, or movie to a minor that contains any such words, you’re a felon.
3. If you give the King James Version of the Bible to a minor, knowing that it contains the word “piss,” I expect you’re a felon, too. (I set aside “damn” and “hell” on the theory that they might not be treated as “vulgar” when used in a religious sense rather than figuratively as insults or expressions of disgust.)
4. Two 16-year-olds can be sexually involved in South Carolina (as can an adult and a 16-year-old), but under this law they’d be felons if they talk lewdly to each other. (Why is teenage sex bad? Because it might lead to lewd talk.)
[NOTE: I'm expurgating some of the words because this blog is read in countries where such vulgarities are, if not criminal, at least cause to be blocked by censorship filters. I am aware of the irony, but also the necessity.]