Letting an F-bomb fly in public in Virginia used to cost you a $250 fine. Not anymore

Virginia legislators say to hell with the law on swearing

(CNN)It used to be that if you dropped an expletive on the streets of Virginia, you could get hit with a fine of up to $250.

But that's about to change.
People in the state will soon be free to swear to their $@&#%! heart's content, after the Virginia state legislature voted to repeal a law that prohibited profanity in public.
      The bill passed the state Senate on Wednesday, and passed the state House last month. It now heads to Gov. Ralph Northam's desk for his signature.
        CNN has contacted Northam's office for comment.

          The law dates back to 1792

          "Profane swearing" has been a crime in Virginia since at least 1792, when a foul mouth in public would cost renegades a fine of 83 cents.
          The US Supreme Court ruled in Cohen v. California in 1971 that banning offensive messages was a violation First Amendment rights, writing that "one man's vulgarity is another's lyric." But Virginia's law stayed on the books.
          It's unclear how many people have actually been charged under Virginia's law. But the Washington Post reported in 2017 that the numbers appeared to be small, judging by arrests in Arlington County, which had a local ordinance based on the law.
          Republican Delegate Michael Webert has been pushing to get the law repealed for a few years now, but had so far been unsuccessful. This time around, Democratic delegate Dawn Adams joined him in his effort to relax the rules on profanity.
          It's likely that the two received enough support to repeal the law this year because of recent changes to makeup of the state legislature. Last November, Democrats gained full control of the legislature for the first time in two decades. But in the end, asserting the right of potty mouths everywhere to exercise their rights was a bipartisan vote.

          Impetus? Video about 'stupid Virginia laws'

          Adams told CNN that over the summer, she came across a video called "stupid Virginia laws" and set out to research them all. She found that banning public swearing had already been deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 1971.
            "In discussions with area attorneys, I was made aware of the pre-textual nature of this law," Adams said in a statement to CNN. "While a small bill, this is a criminal justice reform bill, and I am grateful the Assembly voted to remove this law from Virginia code."
            In other words: to hell with it, she said.