Is it illegal to fart in public?

Can I fart in public? Let’s say Im in some public building, like a court room or on line in a town hall and I start letting out some really loud, stinky farts. Can I be asked to leave? And if I don’t, can I be arrested? If so, what would be the charge?

Of course.

I wonder if they could get you for disorderly conduct. Many disorderly conduct statutes include both noise and offensive actions, so they’d even have two theories of prosecution. There’d need to be some proof of intent, as it were, like yelling, “Take this bitches!” or “Let 'er Rrrip.”

The bailiff would probably respond “Mornin’ your honor” without looking up.

Hang on and I’ll check…
That would be a “yes”.

Odor in the court!

Ah, nothing like going all the way back to the 3rd grade.

Okay, I gotta ask:

How did you go about checking whether copperwindow could fart in public?

I figured that by “Can I…” the question was not “Can copperwindow…” but “Can I/we/he/she… maybe even thee”.

I went out in public, performed an experiment, returned and duly posted the results. Boy, can I ever.

I just about cleared out a bus last month in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. It was great, the bus attendant got out of her seat to open all the windows, and the driver didn’t even shut the doors when he pulled away from the stop. People were fanning their faces, burying their noses in their sleves, etc. I had to do the same, so they didn’t think it was me! :smiley: I upset around 50 people, but I wasn’t arrested, asked to leave, or any of the above.

FWIW, I held it as long as I could. Guess I ate something that didn’t agree with me. Or anybody else on the bus.

Thinking of Brazil reminds me, I still have to get back with Shecky…

For what it’s worth, I can remember reading about a court case in which a woman sued her co-worker because he was constantly farting around her. The judge dismissed the lawsuit, saying that although his actions were definitely piggy, they fell within the boundaries of free speech.

Could you cite this?

Sometimes I cut one out in the stacks and then desert it for others to wander into. I do hope that’s not a federal offense. (It is county property, however…)

I want to say I read it in either News of the Weird or one of the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader books. It’s been awhile.

Normally I’d laugh at someone citing either of those as a reliable source, but I happen to recall reading about the case in the slightly more reputable Time Magazine.

The case took place in 1987. The story was published in 1991 in an article on “the tide of petty American litigiousness.”

I fart in your general direction!

A friend of mine perfected the art of non-chalant audible public farting, and has never been arrested.

His masterpiece was ripping an enormous blast while walking in the departure terminal at LaGuardia airport. So loud, it could be heard over the din of the on-going activities at a distance. A couple of pilots who were sitting, waiting for their gate to become active, looked at each other and then burst out laughing.

My friend didn’t even break stride.

So rip away!

You’ve got to fight for your right to flatulence!

“OK, feet back and spread 'em. . .er, no. Just stand there.”.

I believe it was Miss Manners who delicately addressed the whole issue. She coined (as far as I know) the term ‘polite fiction’ (that it never happened) which I have cherished ever since as the proper reaction to this sort of thing.

Since it is a serious disease state to be unable to pass gas, and since both the sound and smell are arguably uncontrollable, only common decency stands between the flatulent offender and the petulant in his proximity. But of course that applies to many things besides ones with scatologic overtones.

Well, now we know lieu’s name IRL.


While I agree that Miss Manners’ characterization of fart etiquette as “polite fiction” is brilliant, she definitely didn’t coin the term. It appears in lots of pre-Miss Manners sources, including this 1953 article “Friends, Enemies, and the Polite Fiction”, by Tom Burns, American Sociological Review 18, 6, 1953, 654-662 (on JSTOR).

I don’t know how far back the term goes, but I suspect it’s much older than 1953.