Old Oklahoma Law, Still On Books, Bans Foul Language

Thursday, June 28th 2012, 6:54 pm
By: News 9

Parents tell their children not to swear. The Bible commands us not to take the Lord's name in vain. And here in Oklahoma, title 21, chapter 36 of the state statutes goes a step further.

One sign posted at the state housing finance agency's building reminds the public that uttering such words would be breaking the law, because as it turns out, in Oklahoma curse words are illegal in public places, in the presence of a female, and around children under the age of 10.

"Clearly the law will never stand the first amendment challenge. I just think there is no way it would hold and stand up in court," said attorney David Slane.

The law calls for a $100 fine or time in prison, but Slane argues it violates a person's freedom of speech and the statute is more than a century old.

"I'm certain it fit perfectly, but the reality is this we are now 102 years past the time this was the law," Slane said.

Still, the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency posts the reminder to anyone who steps inside the building.

"I'm surprised in today's day and age that anyone, a government agency especially, would threaten someone with prosecution for their language," said Slane. "There are some old laws that clearly need to be cleaned up."

OHFA responded by saying "This statute may have been on the books for a number of years, treating individuals with respect is never outdated."

News 9 also found state law that restricts Oklahomans from swearing in the name of God, Jesus Christ or the Holy Ghost. And that punishment can result in a $1 fine.