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Massachusetts Lawmakers Consider Making ‘B-Word’ Illegal To Say

State Representative Daniel Hunt filed the proposed law change in May.

Boston, MA – Massachusetts lawmakers are considering a bill that would outlaw using the word “bitch” in most contexts.

HB 3719 was originally filed by State Representative Daniel Hunt (D-Dorchester) in early May as a proposed amendment to the state’s disorderly conduct law, the Boston Herald reported.

“A person who uses the word ‘bitch’ directed at another person to accost, annoy, degrade or demean the other person shall be considered to be a disorderly person in violation of this section,” the proposed bill read.

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“A violation of this subsection may be reported by the person to whom the offensive language was directed at or by any witness to such incident,” it states.

Anyone convicted of the offense would be subject to a fine of $150 for a first conviction, and $200 or six months in jail for any subsequent convictions, the Boston Herald reported.

The bill has been met with backlash from both sides of the political spectrum.

Cambridge civil rights attorney Harvey Silverglate denounced the legislation, which he called “patently unconstitutional,” the Boston Herald reported.

“This is just the latest futile effort [by] the word police to control what other people say and indirectly control what they think,” Silverglate said.

“While I detest the use of the B-word and the N-word and the word [f-g], etc., I love the Constitution more and question the constitutionality of bills like this,” Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus co-chairwoman Arline Isaacson told the Boston Herald. “The concern is specifically about the right to free speech, including speech that I hate.”

Conservative political consultant Chip Jones called the legislation a “slippery slope” amid a current trend of political correctness.

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“If we’re going to ban the word bitch, why are we only protecting 51% of the population from having their feelings hurt?” Jones asked the Boston Herald. “Why are my feelings less important than a woman’s? And the answer is, men have become second-class citizens. Toxic masculinity. People don’t like men much anymore.”

Sliverglate said that the “silly” proposed law would never survive a challenge in court.

“It will take minutes for a judge to see through it,” he told the Boston Herald. “It doesn’t have a prayer of surviving, so why should the Legislature even burden us — the citizens, the press and the courts — why would they burden us with this nonsense? Surely they must have more important things to do.”

Northeastern Law Professor Michael Meltsner agreed.

“This would last about 10 seconds in a court of law,” Meltsner told Boston Magazine. ““It’s preposterous that any elected official would think they could do this.”

Hunt argued that he filed the bill at the request of one of his constituents.

“Any time a constituent approaches me with something that is of concern to them, I follow through with it,” he told the Boston Herald. “In this instance, someone asked me to file a bill that they deemed was important and I thought it was a good exercise to let that bill go through the process.”

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Hunt further defended the proposed legislation in a Twitter post on Tuesday.

“One of the responsibilities of all Representatives is to serve as a conduit for direct petitions from our constituents to the General Court,” he wrote. “It’s a long-held tradition that gives every Massachusetts resident a voice inside the halls of the State House and a chance to raise their personal interests before the legislature.”

“While this specific instance may amuse some and alarm others, it remains a important process for self-representation,” he added.

Holly Matkin - October Wed, 2019

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