Swearing Fine

Is this case of political correctness gone mad, again? A driver is being fined $1,000 for a profanity-laden tirade he went on, that is swearing, after getting honked at by a fellow cabbie. The offended driver called police and accused his cursing colleague of assault.

The confrontation occurred in October 2007, on the West Side of Manhattan when neither driver had a passenger. Driver Malik Rizwan honked at fellow cabbie Zbigniew Sobczak after Sobszak cut him off, prompting Sobszak to jump out of his cab and use a vulgarity repeatedly. Rizwan called the police and accused Sobczak of assault.

A city administrative law judge found Sobczak guilty of verbal harassment, not assault, and recommended a $350 fine. But the city’s Taxi and Limousine Commission chairman levied the hefty fine along with a 30-day suspension, saying the “days when drivers can curse at each other are over.” The intrinsic worry being, when will swearing at other drivers be deemed illegal?

However, it wasn’t always so for New York’s cabbies; there was a time when cab drivers were given more leeway with language. Back in 1982, four-letter words were considered a part of daily life. In a case in which a driver cursed out a pedestrian, the decision was that the behaviour was acceptable, given “the realities of life in New York City.”

This example has the trademarks of a bureaucracy that is trying to implement ‘perfect policies’ by trying to stamp out so called ‘putrid practices’. The reality is that most cabbies are not sophisticated limousine chauffers and they work in an environment that is highly competitive and stressful.

What makes the ruling even more absurd is the fact that there were no actual passengers involved. Passengers are paying customers and deserve a driver whose behaviour is respectful and courteous. However, people and the city legislators should not be expecting them to behave like limo chauffeurs. After all, if people want limo chauffeur service, then they should hire a limo. Remember the old adage; you get what you pay for.