Brussels, a city known for its chocolates, mussels, frites, Jean-Claude Van Dammes, waffles and a diminutive statue engaged in a never-ending public pee-pee exhibition, has recently instituted a "no naughty words" policy that carries a fine of up to 250 euros for people who take their unwholesome grouchiness out into the street. A spokesman for Socialist mayor Freddy Thielemans described the foul-language and bigoted insult ban thusly: "Any form of insult is from now on punishable, whether it be racist, homophobic or otherwise."
Even though the city is reasonably pleasant for a large, international metropolis (Brussels moonlights as the capital of the EU when its not slogging through its less glamorous day-job as the capital of the fractured, multilingual hodgepodge called Belgium) with an antiquated sewer system that emits the subtle but pervasive smell of poop (gotta keep it authentically medieval for the tourists!), the mayor wants to bring the hammer down on what the AFP calls "everyday unpleasantness," what New Yorkers call "character" and what Midwesterners call "New York." The city will also impose fines ranging from between 75 and 250 euros on petty theft and "rough jostling" (where physical harm is caused).
While punishing foul language isn't exactly a novel idea (sensitive ears in Virginia Beach, for instance, impose a fine of up to $86 for cursing), it's surprising that Brussels, with its candies, pastries, annual flower carpet and macabre army of marionette dolls would need such a fine, since it's pretty much the closest thing to a real-life Candyland city and, therefore, naturally devoid of any unhappiness.
Brussels announces new law to fine offensive language [AFP via Telegraph]