Protesters stand up for ‘offensive’ speech, against penalty

By William R. Toler

Dozens of protestors joined liberty activist Adam Kokesh Monday for a protest aimed at a Massachusetts bylaw that fines profanity.

Adam Kokesh explains his reason for the protest to the media. (Image courtesy WCBV-TV)

Kokesh, a former marine, organized the event outside the town hall after the people of Middleborough voted to approve the anti-cursing code. Those in violation could be faced with a $20 fine for being “offensive.”

“The language that is coming from inside this building saying that we are going to use the force of government to control your speech is way more fucking offensive than any particular word,” Kokesh told WCVB and other news agents gathered at the protest. “They now have the ability, or authority, to steal from you if they don’t like what’s coming out of your mouth.”

There was also a counter protest from supporters of the ban. One local reverend asked protesters, “Why do you defend offensive speech?”

Well reverend, the answer is simple. It’s “offensive” speech that needs defending the most. There is no freedom from offense, as the IR’s Corey Friedman would say. Or, as Justice John Marshall Harlan put it in the decision of Cohen v. California: “one man’s vulgarity is another’s lyric.”

There were no arrests or citations issued because the bylaw has to be reviewed by the state attorney general.

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