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UPDATED 10/05/11 9:23 a.m.
PARK RIDGE, Ill. (CBS) – If you stub your toe or get into a heated cell phone conversation on the streets of Park Ridge, you are now free to use whatever language you want to express your frustration.
As WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports, you can now legally use George Carlin’s so-called “seven dirty words,” or any other kind of profanity you wish in the northwest suburban city.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio’s Nancy Harty reports
As part of an effort to clean up city ordinances, the Park Ridge City Council deleted a law that made it illegal “to use profanity in any street, alley or public place of the City.”
Having an anti-swearing law on the books, even if it is no longer enforced, presents a freedom-of-speech issue, Park Ridge Police Chief Frank Kaminski said.
“Those laws aren’t really constitutional,” said Kaminski, who wasn’t sure how long the anti-profanity rule had been around.
The council also deleted a section of the disorderly-conduct rules that outlawed the use of “abusive or obscene language” and gestures.
On top of that, most Park Ridge residents knew nothing about the law against using profanity in public.
Kaminski said the city also plans to look at an “indecent exposure” ordinance that prohibits nudity in public, but goes on to say that citizens cannot wear clothing belonging to the opposite gender while in public, though it does not specify what articles of clothing are appropriate for each gender.
While laws against swearing in public might seem comically antiquated, enforcement of such laws made nationwide headlines as recently as 1998, specifically in Michigan.
That year, Timothy Boomer, 25, was ticketed by police for letting loose with a string of expletives when he fell out of his canoe, as a woman and her young children happened to be drifting by. He was later convicted of violating a statewide swearing ban in Michigan that dated from 1897.
An appeals court threw out Boomer’s conviction, and struck down the law, three in 2002.
The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.