Rick Santorum's Cuss Was Actually Illegal

I normally hate to pile on these silly little distraction stories that buzz around campaigns, but this morning I can’t help it. Here’s why:

Yesterday, Rick Santorum now famously cursed out New York Times reporter Jeff Zeleny after a speech at South Hills Country Club in Wisconsin. The exchange had something to do with Santorum’s irritation that Zeleny might be purposefully mischaracterizing his comments about Romney or Obama or something. (Read it here, if you’re interested.)

Of course the story got legs right away with Santroum pulling a Newt Gingrich by standing up to the press. Everyone in Boston knows that beating up on the press is about as risky as hating the Yankees at Fenway. But he went there, calling his idea of what Zeleny might do — get ready — bullshit.

Oh, the humanity.

What’s great about this, though, is that cussing in public or over the telephone in Wisconsin is actually illegal — it’s considered disorderly conduct — and it carries a fine. There’s some legal hurdle to be cleared for that, so let’s break it down. According to a rundown of the law, the cuss doesn’t necessarily have to be in public, but it does have to have the effect of creating a disturbance.

I think we can say both of these criteria have been met. Santorum’s cuss has been widely reported, and to an extent, it has disrupted the news cycle, and brought the cuss into many homes and heads in America.

Residents of Wisconsin have been charged with less — and sometimes hit with fines, too. In an election that’s looking at state’s rights versus federal overreach, I think the good state of Wisconsin has a responsibility to not let this one slip. After all, someone has to think of the children.