Nanny State Update: Porch Sofa Fines and Small-Town Brewery Bans
In this week’s Nanny State Update, not even the most trivial matters are too mundane to escape the attention of lawmakers, from sofas on citizens’ private porches to the songs played at your local kindergarten graduation ceremony. At the national level, 1,934 pages of regulations and notices were added to the federal register as 84 new rules went into effect last week covering everything from rural electricity to the interstate travel of captive elk.
Porch Sofa Fines Threaten Southern Comfort Living: One common southern tradition may no longer be acceptable in Durham, North Carolina where the city council just outlawed what some consider to be the South’s greatest design achievement -- the outdoor living room. The new law prohibits bringing any piece of upholstered furniture outside of the house. Hammocks and rocking chairs are still permitted, for the moment, but porch sofas and outdoor comfort are now a thing of the past in Durham.
New York Campuses Go Smoke Free: Only days after New York walked back restrictions on smoking in state parks, the Nanny State regulators were back in action banning smoking at all 64 of New York’s state colleges. The New York college system already strictly regulates where college students and faculty are allowed to smoke on campus, but now it will no longer be an option at all.
St. Louis Bans Local Brews from Festivals: Home brewers in St. Louis who made hundreds of gallons of beer for this past weekend’s St. Louis Brewers Heritage Festival are going to have a lot of extra brew on their hands after the city banned them from participating on Monday. Home brews have been a staple at local festivals for years, but new city licensing requirements make it illegal for them to participate in the time-honored tradition of tapping the keg. Over a thousand gallons of freshly brewed beer will have to find a new venue this weekend as the Nanny State claims another casualty, and hopefully starts one hell of an illicit party.
Nanny State Clamps Down on Profanity: A few citizens in the small town of Middleborough, Massachusetts want to wash out their neighbors’ dirty mouths. Police in this town of 22,000 residents will now be issuing $20 dollar fines for swearing after 183 citizens voted to institute the city-wide ban. For the moment, the list of forbidden words will be entirely up to the discretion of local law enforcement who will also be in charge of collecting the fines and managing the funds, which are being dubbed the town’s “swear jar.”
What Are They Teaching Those Kids Anyways: Residents of New York City should be wondering what the local kindergartens are teaching their kids after one Brooklyn principal removed the song “Proud to Be an American” from a kindergarten graduation because she claimed it contained age-inappropriate lyrics. Instead, parents and their four-year-old children listened to Justin Bieber’s hit song “Baby” and its lurid depictions of teen romance while celebrating. As New York representative Michael Grimm put it, “When a Justin Bieber song is deemed an appropriate substitute for a song about patriotism and love of country, what message are we sending our youth?”
Not All is Lost: While the Nanny State gained ground in some areas of Massachusetts this week, the town council of Greenwich rejected a blanket leaf blower ban after a year of political wrangling. The town of Arlington, Massachusetts passed a similar ban several weeks ago, but public outcry in Greenwich overwhelmed the temptation to follow their example. Next fall, Greenwich’s residents will enjoy the small fruits of their victory as they decide how to best take care of their lawns.
Across the pond, a young Scottish girl and her legions of blog supporters prevailed against the school district censors and city council officials this week. After 9-year-old Martha Payne posted photos of her pitiful student lunches that went viral, local officials cracked down on her blogging by preventing her from photographing the school’s lunch offerings (the little girl had been rating her lunches using such metrics as "taste" and yes, "piece of hair"). Yet after tremendous backlash from her millions of supporters, the Argyll and Bute school council rescinded their decision. Martha’s photos have drawn international attention and her website, Never Seconds, has raised thousands of dollars for charities like Mary’s Meals.