In 1998, Timothy Joseph Boomer fell into the Rifle River in Michigan after his canoe hit a rock and overturned.
He surfaced, uttered a string of expletives ... and was charged under an 1897 law that banned "indecent, immoral, obscene, vulgar or insulting language in the presence or hearing of any woman or child".
A jury subsequently convicted him and he was fined $75 and ordered to work four days in a child-care program, but the sentence was put on hold pending an appeal.
During the trial, District Judge Allen Yenior ruled that the ban on cursing in front of women was unconstitutional but its provision dealing with children was an acceptable control on Freedom of Speech.
He ruled that while the phrases "fucking bitches" and "motherfucker" are not obscene as defined by the U.S. Supreme Court, there was a "compelling community and governmental interest in protecting the morality of our children."
In 2002, an Appeals Court overturned the conviction and ruled that the entire law was too vague, reasoning that it "... would require every person who speaks audibly where children are present to guess what a law enforcement officer might consider too indecent, immoral, or vulgar for a child's ears."
The mother of the children who had overheard Boomer's remarks expressed disappointment at the appeal court's ruling, saying that if she had wanted her children to hear such language she would have taken them to a bar.