Tuesday, 14 February 2023 17:39

Profane Law

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One of the fun parts about historical research is coming across fun or interesting stories while we are searching for something else entirely. We recently came across an interesting article in the Times Herald dated April 9, 1930.

Profane Law

Times Herald, April 9, 1930, HSMC Microfilm Collection

It starts with the headline "Pays Fine for Violation of Profane Law." Apparently, Magistrate Gilbert J. Farrinton, Jr. charged Irvin Erb of Norristown with using profane language and disorderly conduct. Under the law, Irvin had to pay three fines in accordance with the profane language act as well as to cover the costs with the court proceedings.

Wait, he got arrested for using profane language? Just wait, it gets better.

Profane Law 2

Times Herald, April 9, 1930, HSMC Microfilm Collection

Irvin was arrested by Deputy Constable James D. Ambrois after his mother, Mrs. Frieda Erb, reported him. She reported that he used profane language on at least six occasions and additionally used other "improper remarks." During the proceedings Irvin pleaded guilty and even admitted to using profane language at other times as well. He was fined $1.74.

This profanity law, according to the article, was enacted on April 22, 1794. I'm not sure if this exact law is still in place. However, it appears there have been instances in recent history of people getting fined for using profanity in certain situations. In 2011, the PA State Police reached a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union after a complaint about issuing tickets for swearing. 






Read 174 times Last modified on Tuesday, 14 February 2023 18:08