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Man Sentenced for Cursing

August 23, 1999

STANDISH, Mich. (AP) _ The ``cursing canoeist″ was ordered Monday to perform four days of community service and either pay a $75 fine or spend three days in jail.

Timothy Boomer, 25, let loose with a stream of a profanities after falling out of a canoe last summer. A nearby couple with two young children said they were so horrified by his barrage of blue words, they paddled swiftly away. The mother said she covered her 2-year-old daughter’s ears.

A jury convicted Boomer in June of violating an 1897 Michigan law against cursing in front of children.

``I learned my lesson,″ he said.

But he also thought he was a scapegoat for people who have behaved badly along the rural waterway through the years.

``I know I am being punished by a law that not one person in a million in America ever thought existed,″ he said. ``I guess what the county basically did is made an example of me.″

District Judge Allen Yenior, who ordered Boomer to work in a child care program as community service, put the sentence on hold while he appeals his conviction.

If his conviction is upheld, Boomer, a computer programmer for a company that makes auto assembly equipment, said he will pay the fine rather than go to jail.

The American Civil Liberties Union, which is representing Boomer, contends his freedom of speech was violated.

Asked whether he has since cleaned up his language, Boomer said, ``I sure have.″

``Every day I’m teased, every day I’m harassed, every day someone can’t walk by without saying `watch your mouth, here’s the cursing canoeist.′ I’ll hear it every day for the rest of my life.″

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