A large group of supporters gathered at the Keene Spiritual Retreat on Monday morning to welcome Derrick back to the semi-free world. Rather than go straight back to Keene and relax, Derrick decided to attend the “Free Fucking Speech” event put on by Adam Kokesh in Middleboro, MA – the town that has banned profanity. Here’s footage of the speakers at the event, which included Derrick J:
MIDDLEBORO — Protesters cursed Middleboro’s rule against public profanity Monday and flashed middle fingers for free speech in a rally that drew about 60 people from the region and beyond.
“I’d like to open up this megaphone now as an open mike to let anybody who wants to take the stage join me here and give the town of Middleboro, Massachusetts, a piece of their (expletive) mind,” said protest organizer Adam Kokesh, a 30-year-old Marine veteran who runs an Internet podcast out of Virginia called “Adam vs the Man.”
Kokesh and other protesters railed against Middleboro’s new bylaw allowing police to fine people for using profane or obscene language. The bylaw, which Town Meeting approved 183-50 earlier this month, springs from an earlier bylaw barring people from accosting others with obscene words.
Enforcing the 1960s-era rule required the issue to be addressed in court, according to Lt. David Mackiewicz.
The shift “was an effort to decriminalize a criminal bylaw,” Mackiewicz said. The new bylaw also includes fines for public alcohol consumption and public use of marijuana.
“We disagree with the idea that the government should be regulating our speech in this way because it’s an individual and family matter,” said Middleboro resident Debbie Lafond, 38, who brought her 4-year-old son Caleb to the protest. “If they can regulate this, what’s next?”
Kokesh wore a belt buckle emblazoned with “Don’t Tread on Me,” the colonial motto the tea party has adopted. Nearby, 19-year-old Mat Nazarian of Ashland carried a sign with words ranging from the stuff of PG-rated movies to the “F-bomb” and “Mother(expletive).”
Joining in the festivities was a group that had traveled from Keene, N.H., where participants in a movement called the Free State Project have engaged in protests ranging from hosting public smoke-outs for marijuana legalization to a woman standing topless with a gun in the town’s center.
“I feel like it’s a human right to use one’s mouth as one pleases as long as you’re not putting it on other people,” said Derrick J. Horton, a 23-year-old from Keene, who said he’d just gotten out of jail for a “victimless crime spree.”
Horton said he doesn’t consider himself a Free Stater but moved to New Hampshire from Philadelphia in pursuit of liberty and uses the surname “Freeman.”
“I don’t use foul language in everyday life,” he said while warning of a slippery slope of censorship. But “if someone started saying that I couldn’t speak out against war, that would be terribly concerning to me.”
Earlier this month, Middleboro Police Chief Bruce Gates said the bylaw was intended for cases when people “accost” others with profanity as opposed to when people simply swear in public.
Rather than respond to the protest, “we kept it low-key,” said Mackiewicz, who said the department received no complaints about Monday’s rally. Since the bylaw is still in the approval process before the Attorney General’s Office, Mackiewicz said any enforcement would have needed to be under the 1968 rule.
Lorraine Robin, an 80-year-old Middleboro resident, questioned why the protesters weren’t at work. She said she would have preferred to have seen an exchange of ideas instead of a curse-athon.
“I think this was overdone — very dramatic,” she said.
Loren Decker, the 54-year-old pastor of LifeHouse Church in Middleboro, watched the protest under pouring rain.
“I’m just here to pray for our town. … Jesus said that what comes out of our mouth is a reflection of what’s in our heart,” Decker said.
“I think (swearing is) against a higher moral law,” he said. “That’s the law that I would like to see people bend to.”