By Beth Dalbey
Brighton, Mich. – Cracking down to maintain decorum at a playground complex popular among families with young children, police in a small Michigan town have resorted to the legal equivalent of a parent threatening to wash a child's mouth with soap.
Colin Andersen, 19, found that out the expensive way. A Livingston County magistrate fined Andersen $200 for reportedly dropping the F-bomb in the vicinity of the Imagination Station playground, the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus in Howell reports.
Brighton doesn’t have a specific law prohibiting the utterance of certain words, but its disorderly conduct law includes “language that causes a breach of peace.”
Andersen got the disorderly conduct charge after he reportedly mumbled under this breath, “This is f------ bull----” when his friend was ticketed for skateboarding in a prohibited area and the two were asked to leave.
He said they were “just standing around” and that no children overheard him swear.
Perhaps not, Brighton Police Chief Tom Wightman told the newspaper, but it was audible enough that a police officer overheard him.
For it to have been mumbled "would require an officer with some incredible hearing,” Wightman said in a court hearing after Andersen fought the disorderly conduct charge.
Groups of teenagers and young adults hanging out in the downtown area has reportedly been an “ongoing problem," and playground users have complained to police about rowdy behavior by teenagers and adults in the area, Wightman told the newspaper.
He said all groups are welcome at the downtown pavilion and Imagination Station venue as long as they observe prevailing codes of conduct set by the people who use the area.
What do you think? Should bad language be enough to garner a criminal charge?