Post by Maria
Legal or not?
(Why is it that councils are proving to be so dictatorial? Is it just
because they can, another symptom of handing over too much power to a
few 'elected' individuals?)
Christine Abram (Mayor)
Preston, Lancs, UK
I read with interest an article in the December 10th Yorkshire Post which
gives a few sketchy details of a Preston campaign titled "Respect Our
City". As might be expected, the newspaper article is neither exhaustive
nor definitive in the description of this campaign, and as I may visit
Preston in the future I have a few questions. These questions have
occurred to me upon reflection that there is a general principle that
"ignorance of the law is no excuse", and as the usual run of my speech (and
I suspect others') is by definition extemporaneous and hence unpredictable,
I might have no defence to a charge as described by the article had I not
attempted to ascertain more fully the nature of the law.
Would you be so kind as to take a moment to answer them, or to forward this
letter to a person who can do so; and should this process be expected to
take more than a few days would you reply stating receipt of this letter
and an estimated date by which I could expect a more responsive reply?
Now, to the questions:
1. The article refers to "swearing". This is rather a general term. Can
you supply a list of words and/or phrases that are included in "swearing"?
If not, can you supply a list of words that are not "swearing"?
2. If such lists exist, who is in charge of maintaining them, and what is
the procedure for adding or deleting words? Is there a consultative
process, and do members of the public have input?
3. Must the words or phrases be spoken to be considered "swearing"?
4. If spoken, are they swearing if whispered? Are they swearing if said in
a normal volume? Are they if spoken loudly? Are they if yelled?
5. If spoken, what if mispronounced? What if syllables of the proscribed
words are interspersed with other non-proscribed words (as is sometimes
affected by those afflicted with the need to swear)?
6. If spoken, but no person is within earshot, the words being captured by
some electro-mechanical recording device, are they swearing?
7. If spoken, is it an offence for a person to stand outside the boundary
of Preston but to swear so that persons inside the boundary hear the words?
8. If spoken, is it an offence for a person to swear on a radio programme
when such programme is received in Preston? Would it be an offence for a
person to play that programme on a motorcar radio through an open window?
9. If swearing includes not only speaking the words, but also other means
of communicating, are they swearing if printed on a T-shirt?
10. If swearing includes not only speaking the words, but also other means
of communicating, are they swearing if tattooed on a person's forehead?
11. If swearing includes not only speaking the words, but also other means
of communicating, are they swearing if tap-danced in morse-code?
12. Are there exemptions to this offence? For example, were I to give a
public reading of a work by James Joyce (or some other literary worthy)
which might happen to include a words or phrases that would otherwise be
considered "swearing", is there an exemption due to artistic merit?
13. If exemptions exist, and your reply to me includes a list of words
considered swearing, would a public reading of that letter be exempt on the
grounds that I am advising the public not to use those words? Would a
poster produced for the same purpose which also contained the list of words
be an offence?
14. Is there a medical exemption? I understand that persons with a
condition known as "Gilles de la Tourette syndrome" sometimes
uncontrollably say words which would otherwise be considered swearing;
should such people avoid the City of Preston due to fear of being fined due
to their medical state?
15. If exemptions such as suggested in (8) exist, is there a permit for
which one must apply and if so is there a fee?
Should a reply be received I will post it...