Mind your manners; Brussels to fine offensive language

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The people of the Belgian capital will have to mind their manners carefully from now on, with the city authorities ready to levy fines of up to 250 euros for insults traded on the streets. “Any form of insult is from now on punishable, whether it be racist, homophobic or otherwise,” a spokesman Tuesday quoted Socialist mayor Freddy Thielemans as saying. Brussels, home to the EU and many top international institutions, is known for its family-friendly and cultivated lifestyle but the mayor wants to crack down on the everyday unpleasantness found in any big city. To do so, officials came to an agreement with judicial authorities to impose fines of between 75 and 250 euros ($95-320) for insults, petty theft and rough jostling where no physical harm is caused.