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Posts tagged Well thank God

Well, thank God #11: Paint It Black edition

As part of its ongoing campaign of socio-economic cleansing, the city government of Las Vegas has taken a bold step against vandalism and graffiti. The problem with graffiti, you’ll remember, is that no matter how artistic it may be, it defaces somebody’s private property without their permission. So now the city of Las Vegas will force you to paint over the graffiti, without your permission, and fine you $900 and up if you choose to leave it up on your own wall.

Well, thank God, says I. If the city government weren’t sending around a bunch of professional busybodies and armed thugs to make sure that Ted Marshall’s walls stay painted the way he wanted them painted — even if he doesn’t want to pant them that way anymore — well, who would? Not Ted Marshall, that’s for sure. Why, it’d be sheer– well, you know.

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Well, thank God #10: Got Milk? edition

A while back in comments on GT 2008-05-14: Well, thank God #9: Income Taxi edition, John Markley said:

I'm disturbed by the whole idea that there are actually undercover agents hunting for unlicensed taxi drivers. The whole concept sounds like a wacky satire of Stalinist Russia.

But since when has a collapse into obviously inane self-parody ever stopped a government busybody from doing what they do best?

Meet Millersburg [Ohio] farmer Arlie Stutzman, who’s had a Grade B dairy license for 12 years, allowing him to sell milk to local cheese factories. On September 20, an undercover ag agent visited his farm and asked to buy a gallon of milk.

It’s a no-no for a farmer to sell milk directly, so Stutzman offered to just give it to the man if he were truly in need. But the guy insisted on leaving two bucks. The agent then fetched an unmarked container from his car and had Stutzman’s son fill it with milk. . . .

For the sin of selling in an unlabeled container, Stutzman had his license yanked. At an administrative hearing, he argued that the Amish faith taught him to share food with anybody in need, and asked that his penalty be reduced to a 60-day license suspension. His plea was rejected by department director Fred Dailey, who’s also mean to baby deer and people in wheelchairs. Stutzman now faces additional fines if convicted at an April 17 hearing.

I never realized that being generous and sharing food is a crime in Ohio, says Stutzman.

— Cleveland Scene (2006-03-08): Got bullshit?

Stutzman eventually got his license back after public uproar forced the Ohio Department of Agriculture to back down. But though in this case justice may have been tempered by mercy, I have to say thank God that the Ohio Department of Agriculture was there to bust Stutzman in the first place. If state agriculture departments weren’t out there every day making sure that customers have to patronize the right corporate milk distributors and retailers, who would? How could anyone be sure that customers are being forced to go through the proper agribusiness channels for their dairy products? Without state bureaucracies and their professional snitches to do the centralizing and the regulating, why, Amish farmers might be out there just giving out raw milk willy-nilly to odd passers-by. God, it’d be Anarchy!

It should never be forgotten that the Ohio Department of Agriculture is the thin blue line that keeps Ohioan customers away from the agricultural products that they are willing to pay for.

(Via Jeffrey Quick’s Blog 2006-03-09, via Mental Militia Forums 2006-03-09, via FSK 2008-07-04.)

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Well, thank God #8: Civil Tongue Edition

Fellow citizens, you can rest easier tonight knowing that City Officials in St. Charles, Missouri are contemplating decisive action against a grave and gathering threat to the safety and well-being of their citizens–the threat of coarse language and vulgar songs at saloons.

Here's a photo of Anthony Comstock

St. Charles City Officials

ST. CHARLES, Mo. — … A St. Louis-area town is considering a bill that would ban swearing in bars, along with table-dancing, drinking contests and profane music.

City officials contend the bill is needed to keep rowdy crowds under control because the historic downtown area gets a little too lively on some nights.

City Councilman Richard Veit said he was prompted to propose the bill after complaints about bad bar behavior. He says it will give police some rules to enforce when things get too rowdy.

… The proposal would ban indecent, profane or obscene language, songs, entertainment and literature at bars.

— Associated Press (2008-01-08): St. Louis-area town considers proposal that would ban swearing in bars

Well, thank God, says I. The last thing that the august officials of that fair city should permit is for consenting adults to indulge in bawdy or profane entertainments. Some might say that City Officials ought to let each bar keeper make his or her own rules as to what is or isn’t permissible behavior in their own bars. But that surely misses the point. There’s a historic downtown district at stake here, and if a City Official isn’t entitled to treat a Historic Downtown District as his own private property in order to preserve its Character from rowdies and vulgarians, then by crackie, what is he entitled to do?

Some are not so sure:

Marc Rousseau, who owns the bar R.T. Weilers, said he thinks the bill needs revision.

We’re dealing with adults here once again and I don’t think it’s the city’s job or the government’s job to determine what we can and cannot play in our restaurant, Rousseau said.

— Associated Press (2008-01-08): St. Louis-area town considers proposal that would ban swearing in bars

But really, M. Rousseau! Think of the importance of keeping a family-friendly atmosphere in a late-night bar district! If the city government doesn’t shield the delicate ears of bar-hoppers from indecent, profane, or obscene language that they are willing to hear, then who will?

Since we already have a cadre of professional bureaucrats, legislators, regulators, and statesmen running behind us all, yelling You’ll put an eye out with that! and Don’t drink that; it’ll stunt your growth! and You're not going out like that, are you?! what could be more natural than to give the police some rules to enforce and have The Law come around, in all its majesty and dignity, to shout at us all, You keep your mouth clean, son, or I’ll wash it out for you with soap!

(Via feministe 2008-01-11.)

Well thank God #7: Sagging and the new sumptuary laws

A couple years ago, the Virginia state legislature took bold action against a grave and gathering threat to democracy, freedom, and our way of life:

The House of Delegates voted 60 to 34 Tuesday to impose a $50 fine on anyone found wearing pants low enough that a substantial portion of undergarments is showing. Note the vote: It wasn’t even close.

About those pants: Lots of kids these days are conducting a large-scale experiment to see if trousers can defy gravity. This results in the widespread public exposure of underpants.

This greatly offends Del. Algie Howell Jr., a Democrat from Norfolk and author of the no-low-pants bill, which still faces a vote in the generally more skeptical Senate. People that live in my neighborhood don’t want to have to see undergarments, Howell told me. It’s not about individual rights; it’s about values. I own a group home; we take in kids who’ve been in trouble. Most of the men who come in in shackles and handcuffs are trying to hold up their pants. The way you dress does have something to do with how you behave.

Since the state has an interest in fighting unemployment and crime, Howell figures the state is right to ban a practice that he says makes young people less attractive as employees and more likely to turn to crime.

— Marc Fisher, Washington Post (2005-02-10): Droopy Drawers Drive Va. House To Distraction

Now here’s the latest from Delcambre, Louisiana:

The Delcambre Board of Aldermen outlawed indecent exposure in the form of sagging pants Monday, but not before several residents voiced their objections.

The board voted unanimously to make it illegal for anyone to wear clothing that exposes them or reveals their underwear in public.

The ordinance states, It shall be unlawful for any person in any public place or in view of the public to be found in a state of nudity, or partial nudity, or in dress not becoming to his or her sex, or in any indecent exposure of his or her person or undergarments, or be guilty of any indecent or lewd behavior.

It is punishable by up to a $500 fine or up to six months in jail, or both.

Delcambre Police Chief James Broussard said violators can be arrested if officers spot them while on patrol, or if another resident files a complaint.

— Jeff Moore, The Daily Iberian (2007-06-12): Sagging bagged by town

Radley Balko informs us that there is a movement afoot amongst the Real Americans, in both Red states and Blue:

Moreover, civic organizers in Atlanta, Detroit, Nashville, Tenn., and Birmingham, Ala., are planning antisagging rallies, says Pastor Dianne Robinson of Jacksonville, Fla., who last week handed out 78 donated belts at a belt rally. This sagging of the pants is to me a defiant act, and it has all kinds of implications, says Ms. Robinson, who is black. If you can’t get up in the morning and pull your pants up, that says a lot about you, even if I don’t know anything about you.

–quoted by Radley Balko, The Agitator (2007-07-20): Droopy Drawers Banners See Cracks in Opposition

Now that we already have a professional cadre of bureaucrats running behind us all, yelling You’ll put an eye out with that! and Don’t drink that, it’ll stunt your growth!, how could our statesmen and civic organizers possibly refuse their duty to set the Law running around after people wearing dress not becoming to his or her sex [sic!] and black kids committing defiant acts, screaming You’re not going out like that, are you?! and Don’t you take that attitude with me, young man!

Well, thank God #6: Raed Jarrar and ostensive definitions

Posting has been light lately thanks to a combination of moving to a new apartment, catching up on backlogged academic writing, and having to wait until September for my Internet access to be set up at home. I have been coping by catching some Internet time through the local library’s WiFi and by playing a lot of Tetris. While I’ve been away, though, our august State has certainly been busy Securing the Homeland. Consider, for example, the case of Iraqi-American architect Raed Jarrar:

The next day, I went to JFK in the morning to catch my Jet Blue plane to California. I reached Terminal 6 at around 7:15 am, issued a boarding pass, and checked all my bags in, and then walked to the security checkpoint. For the first time in my life, I was taken to a secondary search . My shoes were searched, and I was asked for my boarding pass and ID. After passing the security, I walked to check where gate 16 was, then I went to get something to eat. I got some cheese and grapes with some orange juice and I went back to Gate 16 and sat down in the boarding area enjoying my breakfast and some sunshine.

At around 8:30, two men approached me while I was checking my phone. One of them asked me if I had a minute and he showed me his badge, I said: sure. We walked some few steps and stood in front of the boarding counter where I found out that they were accompanied by another person, a woman from Jet Blue.

One of the two men who approached me first, Inspector Harris, asked for my id card and boarding pass. I gave him my boarding pass and driver’s license. He said people are feeling offended because of your t-shirt. I looked at my t-shirt: I was wearing my shirt which states in both Arabic and English we will not be silent. You can take a look at it in this picture taken during our Jordan meetings with Iraqi MPs. I said I am very sorry if I offended anyone, I didnt know that this t-shirt will be offensive. He asked me if I had any other T-shirts to put on, and I told him that I had checked in all of my bags and I asked him why do you want me to take off my t-shirt? Isn’t it my constitutional right to express myself in this way? The second man in a greenish suit interfered and said people here in the US don’t understand these things about constitutional rights. So I answered him I live in the US, and I understand it is my right to wear this t-shirt.

Then I once again asked the three of them : How come you are asking me to change my t-shirt? Isn’t this my constitutional right to wear it? I am ready to change it if you tell me why I should. Do you have an order against Arabic t-shirts? Is there such a law against Arabic script? so inspector Harris answered you can’t wear a t-shirt with Arabic script and come to an airport. It is like wearing a t-shirt that reads I am a robber and going to a bank. I said but the message on my t-shirt is not offensive, it just says we will not be silent. I got this t-shirt from Washington DC. There are more than a 1000 t-shirts printed with the same slogan, you can google them or email them at wewillnotbesilent@gmail.com . It is printed in many other languages: Arabic, Farsi, Spanish, English, etc. Inspector Harris said: We cant make sure that your t-shirt means we will not be silent, we don’t have a translator. Maybe it means something else. I said: But as you can see, the statement is in both Arabic and English. He said maybe it is not the same message. So based on the fact that Jet Blue doesn’t have a translator, anything in Arabic is suspicious because maybe it’ll mean something bad!

Meanwhile, a third man walked in our direction. He stood with us without introducing himself, and he looked at inspector Harris’s notes and asks him: is that his information?, inspector Harris answered yes. The third man, Mr. Harmon, asks inspector Harris : can I copy this information?, and inspector Harris says yes, sure.

inspector Harris said: You don’t have to take of your t-shirt, just put it on inside-out. I refused to put on my shirt inside-out. So the woman interfered and said let’s reach a compromise. I will buy you a new t-shirt and you can put it on on top of this one. I said I want to keep this t-shirt on. Both inspector Harris and Mr. Harmon said No, we can’t let you get on that airplane with your t-shirt. I said I am ready to put on another t-shirt if you tell me what is the law that requires such a thing. I want to talk to your supervisor. Inspector Harris said You don’t have to talk to anyone. Many people called and complained about your t-shirt. Jetblue customers were calling before you reached the checkpoint, and costumers called when you were waiting here in the boarding area.

it was then that I realized that my t-shirt was the reason why I had been taken to the secondary checking.

I asked the four people again to let me talk to any supervisor, and they refused.

The Jet Blue woman was asking me again to end this problem by just putting on a new t-shirt, and I felt threatened by Mr. Harmon’s remarks as in Let’s end this the nice way. Taking in consideration what happens to other Arabs and Muslims in US airports, and realizing that I will miss my flight unless I covered the Arabic script on my t-shirt as I was told by the four agents, I asked the Jet Blue woman to buy me a t-shirt and I said I don’t want to miss my flight.

… The woman went away for 3 minutes, and she came back with a gray t-shirt reading new york. I put the t-shirt on and removed the price tag. I told the four people who were involved in the conversation: I feel very sad that my personal freedom was taken away like this. I grew up under authoritarian governments in the Middle East, and one of the reasons I chose to move to the US was that I don’t want an officer to make me change my t-shirt. I will pursue this incident today through a Constitutional rights organization, and I am sure we will meet soon. Everyone said okay and left, and I went back to my seat.

— Raed in the Middle (2006-08-10): back from the mideast

Well, thank God, says I. If government spooks didn’t partner with corporate pencil-pushers then who would protect white American airline customers from men wearing t-shirts with offensive scripts that they can’t read in languages they don’t understand? What Raed didn’t realize is that Homeland Security had to be on the look-out for Arab-American men wearing a shirt saying We Will Not Be Silent, because it has a compelling State interest in providing the tax-paying public with an ostensive definition of irony.

Incidentally, I am now taking bets on how quickly all those Red Staters and professional blowhards who spent the past couple decades railing against restrictions on offensive speech and against the culture of enforced sensitivity will be rushing to Raed Jarrar’s defense.

Good night, and good luck.

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