Melbourne’s Swear-in

From my Global Voices post about the Victorian on-the-spot-fines for swearing :

Melbourne has just had a swear-in outside Victoria’s State Parliament to protest against new laws for on-the-spot fines for swearing.

…This issue has caused a lot of web chatter in places other than the usual suspects: mostly outrage or disbelief, mixed with a lot of humour.

The swear-in rally drew a smaller crowd than had indicated their intention to attend on Facebook. Perhaps the f**kwalk on 25 June, 2011, based on the recent slutwalk, will have more success.
Australia’s Swear-In: Fine is a Four-Letter Word


51 comments on “Melbourne’s Swear-in

  1. Kevin, you might be interested in this one…

    The case Mr Cansdell referred to was Police v Dunn heard in Dubbo Local Court in 1999 when Mr Heilpern was the presiding magistrate.

    A study into Australian human rights said it was a case of a young indigenous man who came before the court charged with using offensive language to a police officer, having told two officers to “f— off” when they sought to take into custody a bicycle he was riding.

    Heilpern threw out the police case in a decision that had implications for the treatment of offensive language by the courts, as well as highlighting the extent to which the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody were not being implemented in such examples.

    I was lucky enough to have David Heilpern as my criminal law lecturer – not long before this David also was investigating the sexual assault of young prisoners – plus the fact that Aboriginal youth was unfairly targetted in this regard.

  2. F**kwalk is a good idea something that I would be prepared to help with. I can walk and say f**k at the same time.

  3. Back to the fifties?

    They would have been better to concentrate on abuse (physical and verbal) of our emergency service personnel and police officers …

  4. It’s worth remembering that the death of Cameron Doomadgee on Palm Island started with his arrest allegedly for using offensive language to a police officer.

  5. Kevin, this is precisely it. This is what (Magistrate) David Heilpern was referring to via Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody…which I referred to above.

    Usually a case in the lower courts does not carry much weight, but David’s case is being cited as it provided a point of reference.

    The thing about the law is that once a person is prepared to make a decision then others can follow and use this thing as a point of reference.

    This is complete stupidity by the Baillieu government of course..but I honestly didn’t expect much else from Baillieu. The Baillieu’s having been part of the upper crust of Victorian society for over 150 years.

  6. Are These New ‘Victorian’ Times, Here In Antipodean Climes?

    You know I never used to swear
    As a girl I’d never dare!
    Some boys I knew would say things like suckl
    And use other words like luck and stuck.
    At college I had to work and study
    So I remained a fuddy duddy.
    Once married I loosened up a bit.
    When wiping up vomit and baby spit.
    My son, though tough, was quite a hugger,
    And my little girl was a heart string tugger.
    So I never had real cause to curse
    And use bad words like damn and worse.
    But now I’m old and have become a poet
    I’m often lost for words. Wouldn’t you know it!

    Even a simple word like poem,
    Has one rhyme only – jereboam!
    So I’ve decided that I’ll call mine ‘pomes’
    Which has rhymes galore, like foams and gnomes.
    But I like to write about politics
    Which suggests republics and catholics.
    And that makes me think of a certain prick
    Who I’d like to kick,.. give the flick,…. who makes me sick.
    Well, you can see it’s easy to get the habit
    Of swearing about that rotten Mr. Rabbit.
    So now I often use swear words like shit
    After all he’s always using it.
    Still I prefer to use it as an adjective
    Describing him, not as a derivative.

    So there you are. These days I often swear.
    There are are opportunities everywhere.
    I dream each night some lurking mugger
    Will jump out and grab that bugger.
    Or that protesters will run amok
    And shout and scream at him to “Fuck….
    No need to reach up to my book shelf
    For any rhyming dictionary.
    I’ve become a missionary
    For freedom of speech.
    Everywhere I go I preach
    Our right to use any dirty word, e.g. ‘coition’
    That’s fucking, not misprint for Coalition.
    I’ll keep doing that while it’s still lawful.
    To think one day soon it might not be is bloody awful.

  7. I detest foul language and believe it should not be levelled at people in position of authority irrespective of the actions at the time.

    I don’t care what race you are or what colour you are.

    So good to know there is support out there for the verbal denigration of public servants doing their duty (not)

    Being sworn at and abused in public is a sometimes terrifying fact for the elderly.

    I find the support of such actions distasteful to say the least. There is no excuse for foul language in public other than the attempt at intimidating a person.

  8. Patricia, you are brilliant. You make it look so easy…only one other person that I can think of who could compete, being Migs of course 🙂

  9. Shane, true enough. But is bad language sufficient to throw a person into prison, to burden that young person with a criminal offence which could preclude them from future employment.

  10. Shane, I’m assuming you are serious, so I will treat your comment with respect. As a teacher and later as principal I found that swearing generally was used by kids with the most disadvantaged backgrounds. In trouble already, they often swore back at teachers almost as a reflex action. It was hard to get some staff to separate the bad language from the original offence. Even more difficult I found was dealing with staff who had sent kids to me for bad language alone. Somehow caning a kid (as deputies were expected to do in my day) for using language he’d learned at his mother’s knee seemed outrageous. So I stayed my deputy’s hand, as it were, for that particular offence. Amazing how few canings were then thought necessary within weeks.

    The dramatic improvement in school tone thereafter made it easy for me to do the thing really close to my heart – outlaw the cane altogether in my school when it was still generally in use throughout the state. We had a much nicer school from then on, happier kids and teachers, and less absenteeism. It was easier then to have rational discussions in the classroom about what constituted bad language. The kids pointed out, by the way, that swearing and the like was beginning to be considered Okay on some TV programs. Nowadays, of course, it’s widely used on the national media and, not just by entertainers but by politicians too. The Leader of the Opposition springs immediately to mind.

    By the way, my experience about abuse being thrown at teachers and public officers is that by itself it doesn’t do that much harm unless it’s responded to disproportionately with physical force, arrest etc. Drunkenness associated with violence and public disorder is a different matter altogether. Most teachers, nurses, police will tell you they can easily look after themselves around bad language. Those who can’t should avoid working in those environments where bad language flies around.

  11. min

    It depends on how and where the language was used. Still there is no excuse for using against others, especially those who provide services to or protection of the community. If a person had foul language I would not want to employ them in the first place. I would naturally expect a wraning first to stop using the language, but after that the person is responsible for their actions and should face consequences.


    There is bad language as a matter of course and bad language used to intimidate. Working in a Bank I have been privvy to a lot of it myself. Some downright terrifying. No excuse. So people should avoid a career simply because they do not accept foul and gutter language. Once again we appease the perpetrators by removing a career opportunity for a perfectly decent person. Sorry but I completely disagree.

  12. No, Shane, even when intimidation is the intent we shouln’t react. A fear or disgust response doesn’t help. It escalates a bad situation into worse. My experience of bank tellers and people at the other end of phones is that when they respond to my impatience calmly I too become calm. It doesn’t help the recipient of the bad language, even if they do get satisfaction from a supervisor or whoever else stepping in. What helps is getting the job done and moving on to more productive situations. If you respond to bad language and intimidation by feeling and acting intimidated then the bully has won. Ignoring it, or responding in good humor, always works better. If not then simply move on. Don’t seek satisfaction or retribution.. You reveal your vulnerability and hurt feelings. When you are at the end of a phone line or behind a counter giving a service, you are in control and in a position to politely end an abusive conversation. The abuser doesn’t win either way – no fear response and no service.

  13. Patricia

    Responding to foul language does not make it acceptable. Of course I knonw how to react as I had my fair share of it. But to simply say people who do not like foul language should not take jobs so we just allow those with nothing but an attitude and foul language to lord it over those who act with respect is just a big backdown on how a human being is expected to act.

    One of the problems at the moment is those who get away with disgraceful actions are being encouraged by people telling us not to react and not to get upset and to move on. This doing nothing more than encourage continual performance of anger and verbal abuse. Tolerance of disgraceful behavour and language should not be ignored and allowed to continue.

    Police suggest we not get involved or toot our horn when others on the roads perform dangerous or intimidating actions. As a result we now have many on the roads who have road rage of epic proportions simply because no one has actually stopped them and said enough is enough. When a bad action is not stopped the perpetrator grows more and more confident that they can continue the action without repercussions.

    What next, after turning a blind eye to verbal abuse we then turn a blind eye to physical abuse ?. Both are intolerable actions.

  14. Hi Shane, I don’t think I suggested we should turn a blind eye, or allow people who use foul language to lord it over us. I think maybe that biblical text, ‘A soft answer turneth away wrath’ would better express the feelings of this atheist!

    I think the police request that we not respond in kind on the road to hoons is also a wise one. That doesn’t stop us, if we have a hands free car phone from immediately advising police and traffic control of dangerous driving we’ve seen and the location with car registration numbers. It’s a bit more effort than giving someone a toot or the finger but it’s a whole lot more effective. . Similarly we pedestrians who feel abused can take action, if we have time by dropping in to a police station. Or if there isn’t one to hand phoning from home, again with registration numbers. Acting constructively in however small a way is a far better course than escalating a bad situation into worse when tempers are frayed, and often alchohol is involved. It’s also less personally dangerous and easier on our blood pressure!

  15. patricia

    I agree regarding danger to ones person, but that does not lessen or negate the actions of the person doing the deed. This blog was regarding the proposal of a law against swearing and foul language in public. In other words a law to stop an unacceptable behaviour of which I totally agree. Provided the person is first warned to stop the verbal outburst.

    Most people do not report abuse or road rage due to the fear of retribution form the very same violent people who have performed the action in the first place, so if the police have a law that they can implement themselves when the action is noticed is a good and positive thing in my opinion.

    I think a poll with a correctly worded question would receive overwhelming support for the stopping of foul language in public areas.

  16. Shane, my concern with such a law is that where offensive language has been used, it has often been used discriminatorily – often targetting specific groups such as indigenous people. That is, the white kid gets let off with a warning whereas the indigenous kid ends up before the court.

    Magistrate Heilpern recognised this in the Dubbo case.

  17. Agreed Min, that’s the real problem here. On the spot fines are discretionary and it’s up to the officer on the spot to decide what’s offensive. H or she then imposes the penalty and those who fail to pay up are likely to end up in jail. Such a law is retrogressive

  18. Is the need for honesty in blogging that important that people will conduct their own research for the sole purpose of proving a person wrong?

  19. Hayward Carlton. I think we are discussing swearing in public places here. Can you explain the relevance of your question to that?

  20. It could be that I’m hallucinating but I was sure I saw a comment that was having a go at you. My comment is thus irrelevant.

  21. Sorry Hayward Carlton I understand your question now. There was a question about honesty in blogging which was deleted. I do think honesty in blogging is important, but as I said above, relevance to the thread is what matters here.

  22. Fishin’ said on another thread: ‘el gordo I don’t think that you know what the fck you’re talking about.’

    Does anyone here find these words offensive, besides me?

  23. OK I’ll stick to the topic. I’m new at this. I find derogatory comments just as bad as swearing. Fkn poof is no more offencive as bloody poof or simply poof. I’d rather be acknowledged as a gay person. It has a tone of acceptability about it, even though I’m not socialbly accepted. What I am, and how I’m addressed are two distinct issues. Being sworn at is the worst.

  24. By comparison this comment by Tom R over at GT is not offensive. Why?

    ‘Deniers are F**kwits’

    Well, if grodo is anything to go by……

  25. I agree, HC, being abused by anyone, whether by so called swearing, insults or simply a contemptuous attitude, is pretty affronting and distressing. whether because of one’s race or gender or sexual orientation. I think that makes the point that it’s abusive behaviour which causes offence and not swearing per se. Bad language can even be quiite companionable, depending on the situation and context.

  26. Given that “it was deleted” is a term of managerialist art, I should like to know which human agency deleted my nominally on-topic comment, and why; so that I may contribute more constructively in future, if I so choose.

  27. Apologies for being absent – a ruptured disc being the cause. My own personal feelings about swearing is that it depends upon the context. Clearly there is a difference in fck which is today common usage, used as a descriptor or directed to an undefined group of people eg shock jocks are fkn idiots, and having these same words directed towards an individual. When directed towards an individual their clear purpose is to try to humiliate or intimidate that person.

    The former is acceptable, the latter clearly is not.

  28. Jurisprudentially-speaking, that context might be defined, or subtly weighted, by the explicit creation of an instant summary offence, and the implicit imputation of a local-but-generalisable criminality, which has potential to colour all other facets of interaction and discretionary applications for criminal justice occasions, is, and remains, profoundly problematic, on any interpretation of the new law, imho.

  29. El gordo – Two things. One, this was a one-of comment. If it had continued I would have called Time Gentlemen.

    Secondly what other people do on other blogs is the business of that particular blog. As Hayward quite rightly put it “I don’t know what TPS is”.

  30. Meta’..precisely, it’s all in the context. The law on this has to remain discretionary due to the need to weigh up all factors including that of provocation.

  31. I was wondering about that too Hayward and el gordo. I am assuming that this is another blog, might you have a link. I’ve tried a Google.

  32. El gordo thank you. That seems to be an excellent site. I don’t know how many on this blog read this, but I would certainly recommend it.

  33. I just had a look myself but I found the article and a lot of the comments far too long to bother with. It seemed very verbose which can be very off putting, which in my case it was.

  34. Hayward..I am certain that you are kidding. If a person is interested one will dredge the concentration span up from somewhere.

    What would you rather, a lot of words saying something or a lot of time saying nothing.

  35. They very well might have some good points to say but unless they can keep the comments succinct then they’re wasting there time on me.

  36. ‘Does anyone here find these words offensive, besides me?’

    I find them an outward expression of antipathy towards your perpetual lying and changing of topics when the lies are exposed.

    On a comparative scale with what you spout (endlessly), I find that very low on the offensive scale.

    ‘By comparison this comment by Tom R over at GT is not offensive’

    I must be losing my touch then 🙂

  37. Hayward, nobody wastes their time on you.

    What was that again Tom. An ‘outward expression of antipathy’…gee whiz, I suppose you could describe it as such….

  38. I was led to this site via Facebook and I like it. I was led to TPS via this site and it simply doesn’t appeal to me. There is nothing there for me to see as the issues important to me aren’t addressed. No disrespects to them is meant but I don’t want to read lengthy blogs on irrelevant issues.

  39. ‘No disrespects to them is meant but I don’t want to read lengthy blogs on irrelevant issues.’

    That can be a bit tiresome and who’s got the time? Except TomR who has plenty of time and is in robust form this evening making claims that I change ‘topics when the lies are exposed’. This is an urban myth.

    Cherry picking is an art form which Denialati members are encouraged to learn, because its the way to beat ‘unreason’.

    Unfortunately, ‘you show me your data and i’ll show you mine’ has not resolved the arguments because of the polemical nature of the debate.

    Best to discuss it without props, in the Cafe with our new associate Hayward Carlton.

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