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Americans can swear at toilets, judge rules

First Amendment protects Pennsylvania bog-cuss woman

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In what will undoubtedly be viewed by future generations as an landmark ruling, the Pennsylvania housewife charged with disorderly conduct for letting forth a stream of abuse during an overflowing toilet emergency has been acquitted, AP reports.

For those of you not up to speed on the Dawn Herb toilet-cuss outrage, the 33-year-old West Scranton pottymouth was confronted with an overflowing john on 11 October this year, and was reported by off-duty police officer Patrick Gilman when she let forth a stream of profanity.

Herb told the Scranton Times-Tribune: "The toilet was overflowing and leaking down into the kitchen and I was yelling [for my daughter] to get the mop... A guy is yelling, 'Shut the fuck up', and I yelled back, 'Mind your own business'."

Law enforcement operatives duly attended the scene of the outrage, and Herb was charged with disorderly conduct, on the grounds of "intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm".

However, District Judge Terrence Gallagher earlier this week dismissed the charge on the grounds that while Herb's language "may be considered by some to be offensive, vulgar and imprudent", it is "protected speech pursuant to the First Amendment".

Barry Dyller, who represented Herb on behalf of the American Civil Liberties Union, praised the judge's good sense and insisted that past rulings have established that "colorful language" isn't illegal. He said: "He's exactly right ... in his reasoning. And it's important that the public understands this." ®

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