I'll say what ever I want around my %*&$ing kids!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


In an effort to find something slightly more interesting than a low level Obama appointment, I stumbled upon a story from Volokh on a New Jersey law that says abuse of a child can consist of:

the habitual use by the parent or by a person having the custody and control of a child, in the hearing of such child, of profane, indecent or obscene language.

N.J. Stat. Ann. § 9-6-1

New Jersey is the home to many stupid laws, but this one seems to have a great deal of potential for abuse. While I generally think that parents shouldn't use naughty language around their kids, is this something we want to criminalize?

7 comments:

Sopor 5:47 PM  

I think there are laws like this on the books all over the place.

My understanding is that, in my hometown of Portland, MI, it is illegal to utter profanity in the presence of women or children; it is illegal to spit on the sidewalks or streets; and I can still get a 5 cent bounty for a rat at City Hall (A WHOLE NICKEL!!!).

But... my faith in the legal system (after having some experience on the wrong side of it) is such that I would not for a moment doubt that laws like the one you have mentioned have the potential to, or are even likely to, be abused.

B Mac 7:32 PM  

Sopor, that's actually a state law

My personal favorite is the Seduction law, which states that "Any man who shall seduce and debauch any unmarried woman shall be guilty of a felony, punishable by imprisonment in the state prison not more than 5 years or by fine of not more than 2,500 dollars"

steves 8:16 PM  

The MI swearing law was struck down. Don't you remember the cussing canoeist?

Michigan also criminalizes adultery, but I doubt there has been a conviction since the 1940's. I doubt a conviction today would stand on appeal, nor is there much support for that kind of law.

It is my understanding that NJ has gone after some parents based on this law in child removal cases.

Matt Tierney 8:56 PM  

Shit! Mrs F and I are headed to the Supermax with the Gitmo-ees.

Our kids have heard it all.

Smitty 9:27 PM  

Aw crap, Mr. F. You just outted yourself, a-la Publius. We are very sorry.

steves: "Michigan also criminalizes adultery, but I doubt there has been a conviction since the 1940's."

Actually, there was a move to consider busting Michigan's AG, Mike Cox, on this law. He came clean about 2 years ago about an illicit affair (including porking a chick on a courtroom floor) with a staffer, and in a vastly and shamefully political move, some folks in the other party considered, publicly, bringing this law up.

Then everyone got their collective senses together and realized that probably half the legislature would be in deep shit. Careful what you wish for...

I agree, steves. Any of these kinds of laws that essentially require the judgment of someone else as to your behavior are waaay too open for interpretation. Look, beating a kid senseless is pretty universally unacceptable. But just because a parent flips out verbally at their 4-year-old doesn't mean they are an abusive parent. They've just HAD ENOUGH of the BELLIGERENCE!!!

Mr Furious 11:39 AM  

Ahh crap... As long as I stay on the right side of that asshole Ed Whelan, I should be okay.

--

Oops, did i just call Whelan an asshole?

Mrs. Smitty,  11:48 AM  

Unfortunately the Rat Bounty was also repealed years ago when I was trying to use it as a fundraiser for my wedding.

Don't forget though, under Michigan law you men can request a dowry.

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