Them fighting words? In one Gwinnett city, they could land you in jail

Shared from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Gwinnett County

Since 1997, a city ordinance has made it illegal to use “fighting words” in Snellville.

Fighting words might get you punched in the face. But in Snellville, they also might send you to jail.

Since 1997, a city ordinance has made it illegal to use “fighting words” in Snellville. The ordinance declares that fighting words “by their very utterance, tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace” and may provoke violence.

Fighting words are also mentioned in the Georgia disorderly conduct law. The Snellville ordinance is almost exactly the same as the section of that law classifying “fighting words” as disorderly conduct.

The “fighting words” bans differ from Georgia’s terroristic threats and acts law. Fighting words are defined as “opprobrious or abusive words” that may lead to a breach of peace or “violent resentment.” Terroristic threats are specifically defined as violent threats.

So, while threats and abusive words may get you in trouble across the Peach State, in Snellville, you can be formally charged with “fighting words.”

1 Comment

  1. This article, which is only partially accurate, is clearly a consequence of a slow news day, and what can only be viewed as a desire to demonstrate ignorance. The purpose of my comment is not to defend the ordinance, which is unnecessary as it’s redundant. Rather, I wish to point out the apparent desperation of some news media, to attract readers by sensationalizing irrelevant stories.

    In the quest for sensationalism, I can only assume that the writer purposely failed to include a significant part of the ordinance. Section 38-49 begins with the words, “No person shall, WITHOUT PROVOCATION, (emphasis added). The opening words don’t alter the fact that the ordinance is unnecessary, but had the article’s author included them, it would have diminished the narrative’s intended ridicule.

    In fact, use of threats and abusive words will “get you in trouble” in Snellville, just as the will in any other part of Georgia. As for being arrested for use of “fighting words” without provocation, chance of that are slim at best; in doing so, you would have already violated other superseding local, state or federal ordinances or laws.

    Consequently, the real story here is that there is no story. Ordinance 38-49 is a vestige of a previous administration and as far as I know, it has never resulted in a single arrest (resulted being the operative word).

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