back to article Pennsylvania woman in legal doo-doo for lav profanities

While swearing at work is apparently good for you, swearing in your bathroom isn't. Pennsylvania housewife Dawn Herb is preparing to fight charges of disorderly conduct brought against her after she swore at her unruly loo, and shortly afterwards a law enforcement officer. Herb, a resident of West Scranton*, was tackling her …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Ben Reynolds

    90 days' imprisonment or a $300 fine if convicted

    Wow! At $3.33 that's some cheap imprisonment. Just goes to show how fair justice can be if you've got the cash.

  2. Anonymous Coward


    the shit will hit the fan if she goes down the crapper.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Land of the free?

    'Nuff said...

  4. Mitch Warner


    "Freedom of speech is not an unfettered right".

    Well that says it all. It always struck me that in the US 'freedom of speech' only applies to words and phrases that have been vetoed by government.

    "You have the freedom to say what we tell you to say".

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    and the moral of the story is...

    Cops are assholes. On both sides of the pond.

  6. David S
    Black Helicopters


    "Scranton's director of public safety Ray Hayes disagreed, saying that these things are not always 'as cut and dry as they originally appear. Freedom of speech is not an unfettered right'. "

    Um... Okay, I guess I'm possibly a little behind the times here, but I was under the impression that, in the US of A, freedom of speech _was_ an unfettered right.

    When did that get appealed, then? Didn't anyone complain? Or were the complainers arrested and duly punished?

  7. Danny

    am i mistaken?


    Scranton's director of public safety Ray Hayes disagreed, saying that these things are not always "as cut and dry as they originally appear. Freedom of speech is not an unfettered right"

    now call me stupid, but isn't America usually making a point that freedom of speech *is* an unfettered right?

  8. Keith Turner
    Paris Hilton

    my cup runneth over

    So, you've got a leaky, overflowing bog and you're none too happy with it. Faced with trying to contain a leak that is getting in to the kitchen you express your displeasure.

    Then some twat comes and doesn't offer to help but has a pop at you for slagging off your own sewage.

    Maybe an offer of help would have improved matters.

    Paris and IT angles:

    New 'recording' from Paris - how much like a semi-polished turd will it be.

    How much processing is required to get a Paris tune finished.

  9. A J Stiles

    It's her own fault

    American WCs are generally of the single-trap syphonic design; as opposed to the washdown pattern preferred in the UK, Europe and Australia where blockages are almost unheard-of.

    The washdown closet relies on the descending flushwater to force the contents of the basin over the weir of the U-bend, which generally exits horizontally -- either through the wall to a sewer pipe outside, or through the floor via a separate 90 degree adaptor. The waste pipe can maintain its full 100mm. bore all the way. Anything too big for the pipe will remain in the basin (which is sized to accommodate more than a full cistern-load of water).

    The syphonic closet relies on a constriction in the waste pipe, followed by a wider section, to create a partial vacuum and draw out the basin contents. The complicated curves of the waste pipe are generally concealed within the pedestal, exiting downward. It is thus inherently unreliable, and has no noticeable advantage over the washdown closet.

    Why our friends across the pond persist in using it is a mystery.

  10. Lee

    well well...

    ...It looks like she's in the shit now.

    thanks mate, its the long brown one at the back

    ...Can you call me a cab?

  11. Chris Collins


    Would this be a graded system, or is saying 'fish mitten' as bad as saying 'cunt'? Do the natives of Scrotum have to wander round with comedy horns to honk when they trip over paving slabs or catch their fingers in doors?

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Re: Worrying...

    "Um... Okay, I guess I'm possibly a little behind the times here, but I was under the impression that, in the US of A, freedom of speech _was_ an unfettered right."

    Um it is - up to a point. For example one can not yell 'fire' in a theater - causing mass panic (unless there is a fire) nor may one lie about someone else (slander/libel). However, this little item should get tossed. It is clear that the cop is an A%% and that he is/was abusing his position. I would not be surprised he he has been written up on this sort of thing before. Should be fun to watch the lawyers get at his file. Note that the fact that I called the cop an a%% and my guess about his file are fine - they are my opinion and a guess based on what I see. Note that I did not claim that he beats his kids - I don't know if he even has kids. Then there is the Groucho Marx question: "When did you stop beating your wife?" It'll be fin to see this playout.

  13. Luke


    You're a cab


    Can we share? Not going south of the river this time of night though

  14. Law

    RE: It's her own fault

    You're my hero.... I always wondered why their bowls were wierd... now I know. Mr Stiles, I doth my cap to you sir! :)

  15. Steven Knox

    unfettered rights

    The general idea is that you can say what you want, but that there can be restrictions on where and when (and sometimes how) you can say it. In that sense, freedom of speech is a right, but it is fettered with the responsibility of making the statements at the proper time and place, and with consideration for your audience. Also, like in most countries, defamation is not protected speech.

    Oh, and Mitch, I think you meant "vetted by the government" -- and still your statement makes precious little sense. If the US government locked up anyone who said something they didn't like, the entire country would be in prison.

    The human eye can perceive over 16 million colors -- it only goes into black-and-white mode when it's in the dark -- and even then it can see shades of gray. The same should be said of the human mind.

  16. Anonymous Coward


    "intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm"

    Is that because she has no private convenience as its blocked up?

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AJ Stiles

    Hey, that was extremely informative, my hat's off to you, O master of loo technology.

    This'll end up getting tossed, hopefully. I mean, otherwise, anyone know anything about the immigration laws in Blighty? I already speak (colonial) English!

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    @A J Stiles

    I never knew about the significant difference between US and UK toilets, thanks for the enlightening and educating comment. Personally I quite like the type of toilet you get in Germany where you poop onto a sort of inspection plate so you can have a good poke and prod to see how well your digestive system is running. When you flush the offending article is swept off the plate and down the pan as usual. It also helps to reduce splash-back (ugh) as there is less distance between the arse and the water!

  19. Randolf McKinley

    @A.J. Stiles

    So what you're saying is that US toilets are shit flushers because they have a shit flushing function, and UK toilets are not shit flushers because they have a proper shit flushing function?

  20. Steven Hunter

    Re: Re: Worrying

    "nor may one lie about someone else (slander/libel)"

    That's not precisely true either. Both slander and libel are *civil* offenses, not criminal offenses. The government can't stop you from saying those things nor can they punish you for it (which is why elected officials are unable to sue for slander or libel). However an individual CAN sue you for damages for something you said or wrote.

    Plus it is sometimes really hard to prove slander or libel. The offending statements must be heard (or read) by a third party, they must be *plausible*, and they must be untrue.

  21. Steve
    IT Angle

    director of public safety?

    And what, exactly, did the opinion of a director of public safety bring

    to that discussion? Was the toliet overflowing *that* badly? If so a

    few 4-letter words would seem to be the least of his problems...

  22. Barry Rueger

    Myth of Freedon of Speech

    "Um... Okay, I guess I'm possibly a little behind the times here, but I was under the impression that, in the US of A, freedom of speech _was_ an unfettered right."

    Although a great many Americans believe this, in fact the U.S. is a place where speech and other liberties are greatly constrained, either by law or by self-censorship. This is especially the case since 9/11.

    One need only look at the moralistic madness that passes as broadcast regulation by the FCC to understand how fettered Americans are, yet the same people who will do backflips to avoid playing a song on the radio containing the word "fuck" (or even Allen Ginsburg's "Howl") will also tell you quite earnestly about how Freedom of Speech is guaranteed by the Constitution.

    What you need to understand is that the vast majority of Americans don't see the contradiction, are able to simultaneously hold these conflicting ideas in their heads and believe both.

    Hmmm... that sounds vaguely familiar....

  23. alan narey

    Oh shit, no pun intended

    I expect the RIAA will be after me now for quoting a few words, maybe a title even. Guess so.

  24. alan narey

    In memory of Harry Chapin

    Have they eaten all the bananas yet?

    30,000 lbs of the f***ers if i remember correctly.

    I'm a Brit but its not much better over here if at all.

  25. kain preacher

    Most states

    Most states here in have down away with the specific charge of swearing at an officer. If you swear at them and they get pissed,you usually go down for disturbing the piece or disorderly conduct.

  26. Alan Donaly

    people with guns

    The officer obviously has mental problems possibly she was lucky to get off with just arrest. People yell obscenities at dysfunctional plumbing all the time no one goes to jail it's normal.

  27. Kane Silver badge
    Paris Hilton

    @Keith Turner

    Thank you for providing a Paris Hilton angle. It seems these "Journos" just can't keep up the pace....

  28. JohnG

    She should sue the cop....

    ...on the basis that he must be a pervert to be hanging around outside her bathroom window and invading her privacy in the first place. Was he just listening or was he trying to cop an eyeful? :-)

  29. Fluffykins Silver badge

    Once again


    Richest third world nation on the planet.

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    American contradictions

    You mean like insisting on a strict separation of church & state (remember the 10 commandments at the courthouse fuss) and then putting "In God we trust" on every banknote?

  31. Red Bren


    "its the long brown one at the back"

    So it was you who caused the blockage in the first place?!!

  32. Mike Moyle

    @ JohnG

    Not clear. he could have been trying to enjoy a nice quiet Nixon in the crapper of his next-door apartment/condo/duplex when she started in. With the genuine CheapShit Brand(tm) construction of a lot of apartments here in the States, there's noreason to think that he was at her window.

    He's still a dick, though, and I wonder if he identified himself to the dispatcher when he called and whether the on-duty officers would have responded so quickly if he wasn't one of them?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    I say fuck that shit, America is going down the drain!

    How twisted is that?! HE is trying to limit her freedom of expression and SHE goes to jail?! What?!

  34. This post has been deleted by its author

  35. Anonymous Coward

    No idea our toilets were different, however the 1.6 gallon per flush rule does blow

    So anyone who has a recent toilet in the states knows they restrict them to 1.6 gallons per flush. These new water saving toilets usually clog up if you look at them wrong, requiring multiple flushes, plunging, etc. wasting, of course, more water.

    I'd be curious if you have a 1.6 gallon per flush limit as well? I know Canada doesn't and there have actually been busts at the borders as people try to smuggle working toilets into the US.

  36. yeah, right.
    Thumb Down

    at home?

    So she was in her own home, dealing with a truly shitty problem, and this asshole decides to have her charged for swearing? In her own home? This is the land of "Freedom"???? Damn.

    Oh, and anonymous coward: it's only the American designed low-flush toilets that clog up if you look at them sideways. I know, I've dealt with a few. My Japanese designed one works just fine, thank you. Try buying something from a company whose executives and designers are used to not wasting water.

  37. Daniel

    Smuggling... TOILETS? Talk to a plumber first

    "I'd be curious if you have a 1.6 gallon per flush limit as well? I know Canada doesn't and there have actually been busts at the borders as people try to smuggle working toilets into the US."

    The 1.6 gallon flush limit is gross overreaction to a limited problem (much of the US does not have a water shortage), but this is ridiculous! For the cost and risk of trying to smuggle toilets (TOILETS!) over the border, you can buy 1.6 gallon toilets that work. They're expensive little flushers, but if you can afford it, well worth it. My favorite are the ones with the pressurized tanks that flush like a store toilet. They even have them where they look like normal toilets, but when you lift the tank lid, all you can see is a couple of pressure tanks inside. I've never seen one of those clog under normal household use, unlike the run of the mill 1.6 units, which are crap.

    As a side note, conversations like this always make me feel old. Just when did I start gushing about plumbing fixtures?


  38. Anonymous Coward

    there has got to be more to it than this

    If the cop, off duty or not, was white, then it's his job to be shat upon, according to the judges, media and the criminal element. No way would anyone prosecute. In CA, obscene blasphemic language is mandatory as long as it avoids "offending" self-defined minorities. Unless these minorities are Police, Military, Christian, or conservative/Republican-in which case they're required to endure and praise such behavior.

    Methinks there's something missing, especially if the ACLU is involved. Even with no criminal record (which simply means nothing prosecutable has stuck) the "victim" here could easily have been involved in all sorts of nefarious shadiness. Or has nice misunderstood gentleman gang member callers at various late hours. Something more than swearing had to be involved.

    Maybe she encroached on an Amazon patent, or had a cybersquatting website.

  39. This post has been deleted by its author

  40. Naiirita

    freedom of speech

    i think the thing most ppl are hung up on the swearing, witch is only part of the problem. the main thing was, one of her neighbors could hear her. i dont remember if it said what time this happened, but most location do have noise ordinaces, meaning if i blast my stereo for my neighbors to hear at 3 am. they cops will show up. the fact she swearing onlymeans she was pissed off and likly sweared at the cops...something guarenteed not to help your situation.

  41. Neil Woolford

    Hey, septic tanks, try harder you faggots!!!

    Bridish people have insulted your plumbing! You agree? You milquetoast pantywaists!

    The world knows that there are no proper showers in Limeyland. They're just dribbling feeble apologies.

  42. Aubry Thonon

    Don't know the whole story, but...

    Let's assume for a moment that she *was* doing what she is being accused of (because if she wasn't this is a moot point):

    As a private citizen, not a member of the police force or anything, I for one would not enjoy having to sit through my neighbour's long list of expletives, whether they were directed at me or not. If, when asking that neighbour to either stop or tone it down so I con't hear them, I am then attacked *personally* by said person (with expletives), then I for one would call the cops.

    I don't care *who* you are, there is a point beyond which "free speech" is no longer enough to cover your lack of social graces. The concept of "free speech" only covers the *content* of the speech, not its wording - she wants to express her dislike of the toilet and its flushing system, fine. She wants to do it in a loud voice and using unnecessary expletives, not fine.

    Put simply: Why should her rights (to so-called "free speech") be greater than my rights (not to be verbally harrassed by what is essentially noise polution)? If you want to rant and rave at the top of your lungs, sound-proof your house!

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @And the Moral of the Story is:

    Yes, cops are assholes... in fact on the job application under references, I think you have to list three sources that can vouch that you're an asshole to get the job. And they check.

  44. Tim Brown


    Seriously - *intent* to cause a public nuisance? So the cop is saying she intentionally plugged the bog just so she could swear at it and annoy the neighbors.

    Excellent, well done that man. Give him a kick in the backside.

    Just goes to show how stupid American cops are.

  45. Mark

    Thank God its not Texas

    she'd be on death row - especially if shes not white...

  46. Charles Manning

    Olymic-size bogs

    Since we're talking US kiddy-size gallons (3.7854 litres or 1.5 sheep bladders in El Reg units), a 1.6 gal flush == 6 litres.

    But since the US bogs are long , wide and shallow vs British/Australian/NZ narrower but deeper ones, 6l does not build up much pressure and thus is less likely to force blocking material.

  47. Daniel

    @Jason LoCascio (6 liter = 1.6 U.S. gallons)

    Actually, 6 liters is just a hair shy of 1.6 U.S. gallons; close enough to be considered equivalent. This would, of course, make the 4 liter variety two thirds, not one third, of the U.S. size.

  48. StillNoCouch

    "Slough" ? </More Bottom Feeding>

    Yet another fine example of Da-Reg slumping to the bottom of the wit-pile again. "Slough" ?

    As self-mindful of the authors and commentors here are of their position within the IT community, I'm somewhat amazed at the continued bashing of us Yanks.

    I keep forgetting that this last-bastion of intelligence crowd of Ameri-Bashers invented Unix -- no wait. You didn't.

    Oh, you've got the claim to fame of having invented and developed the PC -- oops, my bad. Wrong on that one too.

    But, thankfully, you've invented any of the world's most used operating systems ... No, wait -- that doesn't apply here either.

    Hide behind the "" URL if it makes you feel pompous ... Well, no wait, we gave that to you too. Everyone knows where the web came from.

    Wow ... all of this Yank bashing going on here lately from some poor-orphaned step-child pissing in his/her warm beer about how wonderfully intelligent they are ...mocking the hand that fed them (and continues to feed them).

    Heck, I've been in this business for over 20 years and I can't possibly name a single computer, operating system or program worth anything that has the "Made in the UK" label on it.

    Sorry, I'm just sayin.

    Laugh all you want. I'm a little busy replacing your "arses" to listen to your sophomoric name-calling right now.

    (Oh gee, which Emoticon to choose ? I'm sure you invented that concept too) ... what ? No animated burning American-Flag. Geese, this site is just getting sad.

  49. Anonymous Coward

    More to it than this?

    A another anonymous coward, defending the undefendable, with nothing more than

    an uneducated guess and pathetic innuendo. I suspect this is all there is to it, America is probably what is blocking the toilet in the first place. What a f%ck wit. Pathetic attempt to blame the victim, poor ms Herb .

  50. Bloody_Yank
    Paris Hilton

    Two rules

    Rule 1 - Swearing (loudly and ranting) is required while working on any plumbing problem.

    Rule 2 - As you get "East of the Rockies" and to the East Coast people (in general) are fucked-up and up-tight.

  51. Pascal Monett Silver badge


    So you don't appreciate other people's expletives, but you'd find normal to tell them to "shut the FUCK up" ?

    That's what this cop did. I don't know about you, but where I was brought up the F-word has always been a serious no-no. Seems that now, cops have the right to use it, but not the general populace.

    Personally, I think this whole thing is a waste of time. As has been pointed out, he didn't offer to help his neighbor, but he did go out of his way to call his buddies and get her taken in.

    Somehow that doesn't strike me as the Christian thing to do.

    Oh, and concerning Mr. StillNoCouch, your ignorance of the reasons behind Yank-bashing demonstrate perfectly well why it continues. Besides, it seems to me that, on your side of the pond, you don't really refrain from making fun of other cultures as well, hmm ? I mean, it's not like if you didn't repeat at least once a week that the French have surrendered, right ?

    So welcome to the Web. It's not yours, and you are now seriously in minority. If you don't like it here, click away.

  52. Richard Blackwell

    Re: "Slough" ? </More Bottom Feeding>

    Yep still no couch, come on, anyone got got a couch for him? I've got the shrink but still no couch.

  53. Steve


    "Everyone knows where the web came from."

    Indeed. Sir Tim Berners-Lee. A Brit, working in Geneva at the time.

    Y'all have a nice day now.

  54. Anonymous Coward

    Burning USA flag icon !

    I WANT ONE ! - el reg, get that up and available, stat ! I mean .. he didn't even use the "Flame" icon ..

    So the world wide web doesn't count ... ? lol I thought everyone knew where that came from.

  55. Matt White
    Jobs Horns


    "Heck, I've been in this business for over 20 years and I can't possibly name a single computer, operating system or program worth anything that has the "Made in the UK" label on it."

    How about BBC Microcomputers - Electron, model a, B, master etc ending up with the first RISC based computer the Archimedes. If you`ve been in "this business" for 20 years you surely must remember Elite on the BBC B - thats got to be worth *something*!

    There's always the Dragon32 too but then again that was welsh...

    As for the Emoticon where's the "board troll" one? :)

  56. David S



  57. Kamal Hashmi
    Thumb Up


    Quote:"Heck, I've been in this business for over 20 years and I can't possibly name a single computer, operating system or program worth anything that has the "Made in the UK" label on it."

    VME - the best operating system (mainframe or not) ever. Stomps all over IBM/*nix dross. That's why the nefarious 'Merikans/Russkis/Taleban/French planted British "management" at ICL to close down original design and kill off the few innovative brain cells left in the UK. Some escaped, most retired ...

    Oh and by the way, were you in a bad mood? Can't take a little gentle British ribbing?

  58. Anonymous Coward

    @Stillnocouch yes sir, we do know where the web came from. Switzerland.

    I don't think that this article was particularly anti-american. Maybe you're just a little thin-skinned?

  59. Steve


    "VME - the best operating system (mainframe or not) ever."

    I preferred George IV

    "Stomps all over IBM/*nix dross."

    Don't most things (non-Microsoft things, anyway)?

  60. Anonymous Coward

    Poo to that

    Sorry, couldn't resist...

  61. Anonymous Coward


    Where better to have a potty-mouth than in the loo? I can't believe the government these days...

  62. Jon Tocker

    Just bloody lucky, I guess...

    ... that there weren't any off-duty Scranton coppers lurking around near my house a few years back when I walked out the door (on my way to work, on my birthday) to be greeted by the sight of a lake of shit all over my lawn from a backed-up sewerage line.

    I'd probably still be in jail or paying off the fine at $10 a week...

    Where's the "wipes forehead in relief" icon?

  63. Aubry Thonon

    @Pascal Monett

    "So you don't appreciate other people's expletives, but you'd find normal to tell them to "shut the FUCK up" ?"

    <sigh> I tried so hard to write a simple argument without using any expletive, and here's what I get in return?

    No, I would not tell them to "shut the fuck up". Nowhere in my post did I even SUGGEST it. As for whether the neighbour did say that, I don't know - I wasn't there - and this whole mess will devolve into a "he said/she said" legal wrangle. Which you are not helping, by the way.

    Next time, leave your emotions at the chek-in and read what people ACTUALLY wrote instead of what you want to read so can lambast someone.

  64. Doc

    What a load of shite

    Heres an idea. We collect all the lawyers and law makers in the usa and drop the in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq and let them lose on twot (the war on terror)

    We could sue everybody leftist, rightist and centre and drag it out for years.

    Maybe drop all the crappers on them.

    And now I will return to my glass of red and continue on my journey of drunkeness

    Aussie Doc

  65. James

    "Freedom of speech is not an unfettered right"

    I agree. However, she is not yelling fire in a crowded theater here. She's cursing her overflowing toilet in her own home.

    She should sue this cop and his force for wrongful arrest. She should sue the district for wrongful prosecution. She should send a message that most Americans seem to have forgotten. Keep your nose out of my asshole. The government massively overstepped their bounds here. The police seem to believe that they have more power than they actually have.

  66. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Why our friends across the pond persist in using it is a mystery."

    It's a Government cover-up to keep the people so busy with their own shite they've no time to worry about the Bullshit, or should that be BushShit.

  67. masterpikey


    Thank you soooo much for actually proving why the citizens of the good 'ole US of A are slandered on such a regular basis. Just so your addled mind can know, the world wide web and the protocols used were a european creation. It was infact development done by CERN (EUROPEAN Organization for Nuclear Research), that eventually led to the publishing of the "world wide web project", which was based on html and http development by the british scientist Tim Berners-Lee. I think what you are refering to as "the web", is actually ARPANET which was developed by the yanks as a way to keep military communication channels open during nuclear attacks, but ARPANET was extremely limited to a few acess nodes and can only be refered to as a limited study into the feasibility of keeping milatary coms channels open when the standard infrastructure is destroyed. If you want to claim any US involvement in the creation of the internet as we know it, give due credit to the research and development ot the tcp/ip protocol done by the boffins of Stanford University. As you can see the development of the world wide web can be seen as a global effort, but most americans like yourself are to arrogant or retarded to realise this.

    Oh as a foot note us brits don't claim to have created the pc, but computing itself. From the genius of Babage in the 1800's to the devlopment of Colosus during the 2nd world war to crack the enigma code the birth and development of computing can be placed in gods country itself

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022