Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mom gets arrested for dropping the f-bomb in front of her kids...

"Watch your language, Mr. Dirty Mouth!"

It's a good thing I don't have kids and am no longer living in South Carolina.  Yesterday, I read a news story about a mother who was having a bad day and happened to drop the f-bomb in front of her kids while shopping in a grocery store.  Knowing how much I enjoy cussing, having kids could have been detrimental to my freedom.

22 year old Danielle Wolf of North Augusta, South Carolina recently moved from Ohio and was shopping at her friendly neighborhood Kroger store.  She noticed another shopper following her but probably thought little of it, at first.  But then the other customer, a woman, accused Wolf of saying the word "fuck" in front of Wolf's kids.  

She was "cuffed and stuffed" for disorderly conduct by a North Augusta Department of Public Safety officer.  In North Augusta, South Carolina, swearing in public is against the law.  Here's a copy of the incident report, which describes what Wolf actually said and how she was cuffed, placed in the backseat of a "caged" police car, and delivered downtown for booking.  

Wolf later got an apologetic phone call from the woman who complained.  The other shopper explained that she was abused when she was growing up and no one ever stood up for her.  And she felt that she needed to act in Wolf's kids' interests, since apparently no one ever bothered to protect her from four letter words when she was growing up.  I guess hearing their mother say the word "fuck" is much more traumatic and abusive to the kids than watching their mom get handcuffed and hauled away by the cops, right?

To the other shopper's credit, she did eventually say that she hadn't meant for Wolf to be arrested, though she did tell the police officer that she would be willing to testify against Wolf in court.  I'm sure the complainer's change of heart is a small consolation, since Wolf still has to appear in court in September.  According to North Augusta's ordinance, Wolf may be guilty of uttering "while in a state of anger, in the presence of another, any bawdy, lewd or obscene words or epithets".  I'm assuming the punishment would be a fine, though I don't know for sure.

I was surprised when I followed up on this news article and found out the other shopper called Ms. Wolf to apologize.  I watched the video of the call and I have to say, Wolf was very gracious about it.  Had that happened to me, I'm not so sure I would have been as "big" about it as she was.  But I guess people who use the f-word in public when children are around can be nice and understanding folks, too, even if they end up with a criminal record.  

While I certainly get that some words have been designated as "bad" and many people would prefer not to hear such language, particularly if kids are around, I do think it's an extreme reaction and a waste of taxpayer money to arrest people for cursing in public.  Yes, it's a shame that, in many ways, American society is not as genteel and civil as it once was, but it truly is scary that a mom can end up in trouble with the law simply for swearing in front of her kids.  What's more, this incident is liable to be expensive for Ms. Wolf, which will also affect the kids... and isn't safeguarding their welfare what this was supposed to be about in the first place?

I hope Ms. Wolf gets off lightly, though I have a feeling that from now on, she'll watch her mouth when she's in North Augusta, South Carolina.  And I also hope that the woman who reported her learns to mind her own fucking business!  Oops!  Guess it's a good thing I didn't say that out loud while shopping in South Carolina.    

North Augusta, by the way, is also the town where Debra Harrell got arrested for allowing her nine year old daughter to play unsupervised in a park...  I guess they take their law and order seriously down there.

ETA:  I posted a comment on TV station's Facebook page about this and got the following comment from a "Senior Patrol Officer" and "Lawyer":

Would you consider that using the "F" bomb toward your children might be abusive? Is it possible, based on the DISCO statute that use of the "F" bomb is violative of the law?

This fellow, who must be very busy if he's both a cop and a lawyer, posted rebuttals to all comments that claimed this was a stupid cop trick.

And this was my response:

I agree that based on North Augusta's current ordinances, Ms. Wolf did violate the law. But the person who complained about Ms. Wolf's language supposedly did so because she was concerned about Ms. Wolf's children. Fine... but what ultimately happened is that those two girls saw their mother get handcuffed and arrested, which was probably very upsetting to them and unnecessary, given the non-violent nature of Ms. Wolf's offense. Moreover, their mother will probably end up paying a fine and may have a record because she used foul language, which could also affect their welfare. Besides, had Ms. Wolf not had their father or another family member with them, the kids would have had to be cared for by strangers... again, potentially very traumatizing and likely unnecessary. 

Those girls have probably heard the f-bomb plenty of times by now; and they will hear it again and again as they come of age, if not from their parents, then by their peers or in the media. While I personally disagree with using that kind of language around kids, in the grand scheme of things, I don't think it's the worst thing in the world. I think the bystander who complained meant well, but her actions had some potentially serious aftereffects that could have ended up doing more harm than good.

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