While driving in Augusta yesterday, many of us noticed a man holding up a sign with profane language. He was doing it for political reasons, but still, it was inappropriate and not something you are used to seeing daily.

It made me wonder if this is something a person could get in trouble for doing.

You are publicly displaying something that could negatively affect someone else, right? However, you are also exercising your First Amendment right to freedom of speech, which is extremely important.

In addition, I see people wearing obscene t-shirts, hats, and bumper stickers with all sorts of curse words. So where does this fall when it comes to Maine law?

Are you able to walk around freely with a T-shirt, hat, and sign listing every curse word known to man?

Here's what comes to mind first: the children. While I believe that safety and life lessons start at home, I sometimes feel that adults forget children shouldn't be exposed to such yucky language.

Is it illegal to display foul language in public in Maine?

No. Simply put, you have every right as an American citizen to say or display what you want. However, if you are obstructing justice, causing violence, violating laws, or causing disorderly conduct, then that's where the law comes in.

This issue has been brought to light back in 2021. According to the Sun Journal, an incident occurred where a Maine resident posted up a sign on his lawn with ugly language, and readers wondered if this was against the law.

As the article states, 

According to City Administrator Denis D’Auteuil, the city responded that although the language displayed on the sign may be disturbing to some residents, “the First Amendment and rights to free speech limit the ability for the city to react in a regulatory way to complaints of this nature. The homeowner is within their rights to display a sign like this under the First Amendment and rights to free speech.

This case involved someone putting a sign on their lawn at home. But what about displaying this language in public? Generally, the same rules apply. As long as you are not harming anyone, the First Amendment protects your speech, provided it does not incite violence.

Additionally, there are laws regarding obscenity. For instance, a store or business is not allowed to display magazines, books, or materials that could be considered obscene to minors, according to Maine Legislature.

So when it comes to publicly displaying offensive language or terms on your clothing, signs, or bumper stickers, you are generally free to do so.

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