OUR VIEWS: Wash your mouth with soap

Jun 27, 2012


Parents don’t have any control, however, of the language their children hear when they’re in public places.

Those who frequent the Grand Haven beaches these days are especially likely to be bombarded by foul language. It’s almost a successful trip to the beach if you haven’t heard the F-bomb dropped a half-dozen times within the first few minutes of settling down by the shoreline.

The overwhelming offenders of obscene language at Grand Haven beaches are teenage boys, and their cussing isn’t contained to the beach. If one cruises along Harbor Drive with their windows down, you are more than likely to hear some teenagers swearing loudly in an attempt to impress their friends.

If these select offenders are cursing as a way to seek attention, they are certainly getting it — but for all the wrong reasons.

They should be aware that swearing in public does not go unnoticed or unpunished.

In 1999, a man was convicted of a misdemeanor for swearing up a storm in public after he had fallen out of a canoe. He was arrested and charged under an 1897 Michigan law that forbids using indecent, vulgar or obscene language within earshot of any woman or child.

In 2002, the conviction was overturned after the ACLU of Michigan successfully fought the law on First Amendment grounds.

While it seems little can be done in regard to laws, to the offenders spewing obscene language in public or in family settings, local ordinances might be the desired way to officiate respectful behavior.

An ordinance was established in 1997, and recently amended in May of this year, which addresses offensive language in Ottawa County parks. In part, it says it is a violation to “use obscene language, or make an obscene gesture ... to any other person or persons, when such words tend to inflict injury or incite a breach of the peace.”

In Section 10 of the ordinance, it states an offender can be charged with a misdemeanor; and upon conviction, fined up to $500 and costs of prosecution, or be imprisoned for not more than 90 days.

While this scenario may not be likely, considering the case of the cursing canoeist, the ordinance also says the offender may be evicted from said park or parkland.

The best solution concerning this issue would be the potty-mouth teens having consideration for children and their parents while enjoying a day at the Grand Haven beach. Offenders might consider also, that in the future, their children will be within earshot of what they once purveyed.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung, Kevin Collier and Liz Stuck. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.


No One Special

Thank you for raising concern about this issue. One thing that can help is for adults to confront the teens when they hear them using this language.


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