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Friday, June 21
The Indiana Daily Student


COLUMN: The need to be profane

As kids, we were told swearing is bad. There are certain words we were banned from saying.

For most, the ban was probably lifted sometime in their teens. And from then on, people are entrusted to swear with their own discretion.

But some others have not been so fortunate. A small town, Taber, in Alberta, Canada, has recently put in place new bylaws that ban swearing in public, spitting (even on one’s own property) and graffiti.

All violators will be subject to a fine, ranging between $150 to a couple thousand dollars. Though these strange bylaws certainly have their benefits, the benefits do not outweigh the costs.

From an outsider’s perspective, the bylaw might not seem all that bad. Think of walking in a town where people gave up swearing in public. The first thought that comes to mind is probably something like, “What a nice town!” or “What a nice bunch of people!” It would definitely give off a family-friendly, welcoming vibe.

In fact, the bylaw even includes bans on instruments, vehicles and devices that are likely to disturb others and instigates a curfew for those under the age of 16 unless accompanied by a parent or adult.

As harsh as these rules sound, there’s something about them we all like. We’ve all had those times when we’re trying to study for a test, while our neighbor or roommate is blasting their music or having a never-ending conversation.

Sometimes, we want to be undisturbed. And these times can also extend to when we’re in public places.

It’s nice to enjoy the view of a sunny day without overhearing someone else’s loud car stereo in the background. So there’s certainly something to be gained with the strange bylaws.

Furthermore, I think a lot of these rules are applicable and used in the college setting. We have quiet hours in the dorms. We can give and receive noise complaints in most on-campus residences. We cannot smoke in most places on campus. All these rules share similarities with the new bylaws in Taber.

But these benefits to be gained from the bylaws disintegrate when we consider of how dreadfully restricted one would be.

Take, for instance, the ban on swearing in public. Now imagine being fined for muttering a swear word to a friend out of distress — the notion is simply excessive and absurd.

Though swearing can be profane, it’s also a part of how we communicate. We want to be able to have our freedom of expression. We want to convey our opinions in our own ways.

And although it would be praiseworthy to be altruistic and give up using swear words in public for the sake of the community, it should not be mandatory. After all, sometimes, we might just need to be profane to be individuals with a right to speak.

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