‘Ban swearing in public’ says politician

Sweden has banned smoking in public and there are stringent rules on drinking, but now one politician wants to go further, and ban dirty words from the public space.

The proposal to ban swearing comes from Ingrid Olsson, a councillor in Ljusdal municipality in northern Sweden, who says she’s fed up with people hurling foul-mouthed abuse at each other.

“We need a zero tolerance approach to this sort of thing,” the Centre Party councillor, who has presented a motion on the issue to the council, told The Local.

Olsson says the problem has got much worse in recent years, with English words such as ‘fuck’ and ‘motherfucker’ joining Swedish words such as ‘kuk’ (cock), ‘djävla kukhuvud’ (fucking dickhead) and ‘hora’ (whore).

The aim is to prevent people using foul language to insult others.

“Physical violence is always reported to the police, but this is a kind of violence too,” Olsson says.

“I’m not talking about stopping people saying ‘oh damn’ when they hit their thumb with a hammer or something,” she insists.

The new measure is unlikely to gain force of law – local councils don’t decide about criminal offences – but the measure is a way of getting the issue on the agenda.

Olsson, a part-time councillor who works as a nursery school cook, argues that swearing in Sweden has got much worse in recent years, with English swear words now just as offensive to many as their Swedish counterparts.

“We understand English better than we used to, and we learn it at an early age. Hip-hop artists use this kind of word, and it doesn’t sound nice, particularly as they are targeting young people.”

Olsson says she doesn’t know what kind of punishment she would like for people who break the rules, “but I want to get adults to get a grip on this.”