The small Canadian town of Taber Alberta has ushered in a controversial new bylaw that prohibits
swearing in public with a penalty for using explicit language coming in the form of a $150.00 fine. In addition to this police also have the authority to break up groups of three or more people. The “Swear Jar Bylaw” as it has been deemed, definitely has its supporters, like Mayor Jerry Stallwart:
“Basically, we’d just like to see the benefits of a Swear Jar, you know, like at Church, but apply them to every adult human being in our town and have that override things like Freedom Of Speech that the Federal Government seems to think they have authority to grant people,” explained the mayor.
“We also gotta just make sure that people don’t get too riled up by gathering large groups, of three or more people. That just can’t happen any more.”
When asked simply, “What about at Church?” Mayor Stallwart blinked silently and vigorously for 11 straight minutes, seemingly perplexed.
“This is really fuckin’ up my business,” whispered local comedy club impresario Guy Towers as he sipped his hazelnut hot chocolate and looked constantly over his shoulder.
The owner of the popular comedy chain “Jesters” was quick to point out that the controversial new law has really put a strain on the club and the community.
“It used to be that people would come out and get their ha-has at my club and comics could say what they want. Times they are a changing. Comics who swear once end up being fined more than what I pay them per show. They’re losing money playing at my club!” he exclaimed.
“With the cops splitting up groups of three or more people, families now have to travel to my club in separate vehicles. The extra money they spend on gas is killing them. You think that’s bad? The local family with a kid who has Tourette’s is now being forced to sell their home after accumulating too many fines,” said Towers throwing his hands in the air and looking around the coffee shop for a reaction that never came.
Local councilors were unavailable for comment as they were too afraid they may slip up and be fined for using foul language themselves.
“A $150.00 fine is just insane,” said comedian Chip Kinkel, claiming that the law compromising freedom of speech has many comedians seeking cruise ship gigs as a backup plan.
“With swearing on the mainland becoming an endangered species it is now safer to seek refuge at sea where swearing like a sailor is still permitted in International Waters,” says Kinkel.
An optimistic Towers thinks the town will weather the storm.
“We’ve been working with the town and focusing on booking clean comedians, the family friendly type that don’t offend or cause controversy. The town really would love to get Bill Cosby in here for a few shows and then people will realize you don’t need to curse to make people laugh and have a few drinks.”
Taber is a town of 8,000 people located about 250 kilometres southeast of Calgary and they intend to keep it that way.