Chicago is dealing with gang warfare. New York fears that the Mexican drug cartels are worming their way into the Big Apple. And firefighters outside Fort Collins, Colo., are fighting one of the worst wildfires in state history.
But in Middleborough, Mass., one of the biggest problems facing residents is all the cussin' and carrying on in downtown city streets by youngsters. So voters this week adopted a city regulation that is the modern- day equivalent of a swear jar: People caught accosting someone with words will be fined to the tune of $20.
The rest of the nation caught wind of the tiny community's proposal this week and has been poking gentle fun of its ... quaintness.
"Amusing," pronounced one tweet. "Imagine this in #miami," said another. "What happened to free speech, [expletive deleted]," said a third.
But before you shake your head and chuckle as well, hear the other side of the story.
A Middleborough patrol officer who has been on the beat for 17 years said fed-up parents and store owners want to take back their streets from the foul-mouthed. Officer Stephen Nelson stressed that officers intend to wield the fine against those who verbally accost someone else in public. (Not someone who, say, throws out a few choice words after finding out they stepped in gum.)