A West Scranton woman could face up to 90 days in jail and a fine of up to $300 for allegedly shouting profanities at an overflowing toilet while inside her Luzerne Street home.

Although Ms. Herb doesn’t recall exactly what she said, she admitted that she was frustrated and let more than a few choice words fly. Unfortunately, it was near an open bathroom window.

“The toilet was overflowing and leaking down into the kitchen and I was yelling (for my daughter) to get the mop,” she said. “A guy is yelling, ‘Shut the f— up,’ and I yelled back, ‘Mind your own business.’ ”

Her next-door neighbor, Patrick Gilman, a city police officer who was off-duty at the time…called the police. Patrolman Gerald Tallo responded and charged Ms. Herb with disorderly conduct.

Mary Catherine Roper, an ACLU attorney said…“It cannot be the basis for a citation. You can’t prosecute somebody for swearing at a cop or a toilet,” she said. “We bring one of these cases a year and sue some police departments because they do not remember that they are not the language police.”

Cripes, we have every other kind of cop in this society. I guess “language police” is to be expected.

Thanks, KB

  1. JimR says:

    M Scott, I hear ya. I hope the same for my children. A lot can happen in 50 years.

    HMHEetc., LOL, right on. Those that use effen eff, every effen second word need an effen dictionary.

    OFTLOLOL… Howdy neighbour. “Easy going” makes for a great neighbourhood. 🙂

    RGB, you are not distinguishing between hate and anger. “Nigger”, by definition is used for racial hatred, “fuck” is for anger. If you can’t see the difference you have a problem.

    Swear words are a necessity to let off tension and/or to let someone know you are angry without punching them in the face. They should be allowed anywhere, anytime when anger could cause something worse. The toilet woman’s neighbour might agree if the offending toilet was instead ripped from the floor and thrown out the window onto his roof with naught a word said.

    An aside… in Jamaica “blood clot” is considered a nasty swear word.

  2. JimR says:

    #60, it’s people like you who keep nonsense alive. Of course your suggestion would draw fire. Standing on a soapbox and yelling profanities for NO REASON just makes you a public annoyance. The toilet woman wasn’t just standing at her open bathroom window yelling profanities to the outside world. Your arguments are irrational.

  3. HisMostHumblyExhaultedSupremeGlobalWarmingMajesty says:

    If you were to eliminate swearing completely, it would be impossible to play golf the way I do. 🙂

    (Hell, golf forces me to think of new profanities because nothing can describe the situation sometimes.)

  4. JimR says:

    I don’t play golf, but I can imaging wanting to take an axe to the effen branch that got in the effen way, or the effen ball that thinks it can swim or the effen tiny bump near the effen 8th hole, or the effen….

    Sounds like fun! 🙂

  5. Miguel Correia says:

    #60… Man… what a fucked up reasoning… lolol

  6. RBG says:

    62. JimR. Like we are supposed to know or care if someone has a reason to step on a soapbox and spew out a tirade of profanities. But I think you are now beginning to understand the concept of a public annoyance.

    It’s precisely because enough people can’t see, and couldn’t care less about the difference between hate words and anger words that people have a problem with them. Clearly these words are interchangeable, you Fuck. (Nothing personal there.) Your fine distinction is quite irrelevant and simply a bit of sophistry and a poor excuse in support of people who lack a bit of control or are selfish boors to begin with.


  7. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    RGB – My point isn’t that I want to walk up to your kids and say fuck to them… that would be both rude and uncivilized.

    My point is that if they grow up to be anti-social misfits, it won’t be because they overheard the word fuck being used.

  8. RBG says:

    67 oftlo, I guess it depends if they also learn by example that it is ok to use it in a hurtful, obnoxious, unrestrained, irresponsibe, selfish way. You know, like it is mostly used by people who never learned otherwise.


  9. JimR says:

    RGB, if I happen to hurt myself … I’ll use the old cliche of hitting my finger with a hammer… and you come along and get in my face with your “oh my poor ears” routine, I just might take it out on you and regret it later. Apparently you would rather have it that way instead of minding your own fucking business. Man you are thick headed!

  10. RBG says:

    69 JimR. I’ll accept bullheaded. If it was just the boys & me, I would shut up about it. I might even if grandma and her lovely little grandchildren were around, even though I’d wonder about what kind of upringing produces that kind of selfish emotional reflex. But if it went on and on – to bring it back to the post at hand – I would be forced to say or do something. And wanna bet I would be applauded by the by-standers.


  11. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    #68 – RBG – Well… you are getting closer to the sense making area.

    Here’s the thing… Kids learn by what we do. If I say “man, that movie was fucking great” or I hit my finger with a hammer and yell, “Goddamn that hurt” then kids learn that adults use curses. Whether or not they use those words 1) has everything to do with how you raise them and 2) nothing to do with whether or not they are good people…

    But then there is your point, about hateful and abusive language. If my kid sees me yelling at my (hypothetical) wife, does it really matter if I scream, “you fucking bitch, I hate you” or “you stupid woman, I hate you.”?

    I can’t see how the words could make one of those less hateful… and the lesson would be that its okay to verbally abuse your spouse… which would be a crying shame to teach a kid.

    But going back to the idea that there are no dangerous words… If you believe that we are responsible for our own actions, which I think most of us believe, then while it may be considered rude by some to use profanity in public, it isn’t the profanity that causes a reaction in others.

  12. JimR says:

    ” It’s not like I was outside or drunk,” said Ms. Herb, who resides at 924 Luzerne St. along with her four young children. “A cop can charge you with disorderly conduct for disrespecting them?”

    Getting back to the story, I would side with toilet lady. It doesn’t appear she has a husband, she has 4 children, and her toilet is leaking, probably ruining the ceiling and walls below. Why not have a little sympathy?

    RBG, I’m tired of typing swear words. Let’s be real… you, I, OFLOL and most posters here aren’t assholes that yell profanities at or wives or at any children whatsoever. Those types of pooholes are thankfully rare.
    Behind most of the aliases here, are decent people.

    So take care, have a nice evening. I’m off to help with homework.

  13. Mr. Fusion says:

    An interesting thought, who uses foul language.

    My own experience is that those who have limited language are more prone to express them self with profanity while those with larger vocabularies will use other methods of expression.

    I seldom swear and when I do it is usually to stress or emphasize something. One of the best things my father did was to encourage me to read. It would appear that most DU regulars are the same.

  14. RBG says:



  15. K B says:

    Bullshit ! 🙂

  16. #63,

    Sounds like you need to be involved in some medical research into the link between golf and Tourette Syndrome. I’ve found software packages like that (just barely good enough to keep using, but frustrating) but do not participate in activities that make me feel that was as a source of entertainment. Perhaps you’re a masochist?

  17. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    #73 – Speaking as someone with a great command of the vernacular and an authoritative degree of verbosity… I find that I use much casual profanity, despite being well educated and having strong language skills. The environment I was nurtured in taught me that profane words are just words like any other words and I am comfortable using them.

    That sorta fucks your shit up…
    That example has the effect of negating your supposition

  18. #73 – Fusion & #77 – OFTLO,

    I’m with OFTLO on this. I curse casually quite a lot. In fact, when someone really pisses me off, I become more formal, not less. So, in my case, cursing often indicates that I’m still on friendly, fuck you, terms with the person at whom I’m cursing. Or, less frequently these days, but still non-zero, am engaging in the geeky type of cursing referenced in this hacker’s dictionary listing.

  19. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    #78 – And I’m with Scott on this… But that’s out of self interest really…

    But you raise a good point… Profanity in some corners of New York is used for endearment. 🙂

  20. Mr. Fusion says:

    #78 & 79

    I find that so very hard to believe. Such fine gentlemen such as you two.

  21. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    I fuckin’ love you Fusion! I fuckin’ love this Fusion guy!


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