Make My Day
WAR IS PEACE, LOVE IS HATE, SMART IS STUPID
by Erik Deckers
American Reporter Humor Writer
SYRACUSE, Ind. -- People have griped about it since 1949, when Geor= ge Orwell published his doom-saying classic "1984."
The idea that Big Brother could watch us, control us, and even impr= ison or reprogram us if we disobeyed has been a concern to a lot of people = over the years. And with the exception of the radical right-wing nuts who t= hink "The Gummint" is out to steal their gold fillings and Bibles, most peo= ple believe that the American government is too large, unwieldy, and just p= lain stupid to actually try to control 280 million people.
And for the most part, it's true. It's not the government who tries= to control what people think and do, it's the whiners and complainers of t= his country who get backing from local governments and money-grubbing shark= s with law degrees who end up controlling what we do, say, think, feel and = see. And despite what people say about "silent majorities" or "the will of = the people," it's usually the few whiners in a crowd that create problems f= or the rest of us.
A couple examples of the whining and sniveling of a disgruntled few= oozed to the surface of local politics over the past couple of weeks, and = chilled my blood.
This past week, the Los Angeles Times reported that the city= of Santa Monica, Calif., is considering new legislation that will require = all new homes, and homes undergoing major remodeling, to include features f= or the handicapped. Yes, even your own private home that you pay for with y= our own hard work and money may be required to have a wheelchair ramp or "n= o-step" entrances, wide doorways and interior halls, at least one handicapp= ed-accessible bathroom, and lower light switches and thermostats, all to al= low wheelchair access.
Luckily, Santa Monica officials realize that before the ordinance is approved, they must overcome the negative public opinion that will no doubt follow the announcement. That, and the relentless ridicule and humiliation from humor writers and political commentators.
Alan Toy, a researcher at UCLA's Advanced Policy Institute whopropo= sed the ordinance, said, "There are two things that are in conflict in Amer= ica: 'United we stand' and 'By God, I'll stand on my own propertyby myself = and you won't tell me what to do with it'."
In other words, "You can remodel my house when you pry it from wher= ever on your body happened to I shove it."
Although Atlanta, Chicago, and Oregon require that new homes built = with governmental assistance meet Americans with Disabilities Act standards= , accessibility experts say there are currently no laws requiring handicapp= ed access in privately financed single family homes.
Translation: "No one else has had the stones to tell home owners wh= at to do, with the exception of a few fascist Home Owners Associations we c= ould name."
Donna Reichle, a spokeswoman for the National Association of Home B= uilders, says that although professional builders understand the value of w= heelchair accessibility, there are concerns that ramps and wide hallways co= uld mean sacrifices in the layout of smaller homes.
"We really don't think the consumer should have to pay for the chan= ges if they don't want them in the first place," said Reichle.
"We also think that if a wheelchair user doesn't want to come to ou= r house because it has steps and narrow doors, that's their problem," Reich= le then fictitiously added. "If we want them there, we'll accommodate them.= If we don't, they can bite us!"
At this time, the idea has only been made as a proposal. Two hearin= gs will take place before Operation Whine and Snivel is officially submitte= d to the Santa Monica City Council as legislation.
On November 21st, the Washington Post reported that the Mont= gomery County, Md., Council approved an anti-smoking measure that would act= ually fine people for smoking in their home if it offended their neighbor. = Under the new standards, tobacco smoke was to be treated like other polluta= nts, such as asbestos or pesticides, and that if the smoke entered a neighb= or's house, the neighbor could complain to the Montgomery County Department= of Environmental Protection. Smokers could then face fines of up to $750 p= er violation.
Said council member Isiah Leggett, "This does not say that you cannot sm= oke in your house. What it does say is that your smoke cannot cross propert= y lines."
Short of building 30-foot walls between houses, or giant ventilation sys= tems that would divert the smoke into underground storage tanks, one would = think it's nearly impossible to stop smoke from crossing property lines. At= least until you realized that smoke pretty much disperses outdoors after j= ust a few seconds, and the only people who complain are hypochondriacs and = chronic complainers.
But never fear, common sense and an overwhelming sense of guilt prevaile= d. After the tobacco companies threatened to sue, the ACLU voiced concerns = about the impact on property rights, and the story made national and intern= ational news, Montgomery County Executive Douglas Duncan vetoed the legisla= tion he originally supported. Council member Howard Denis, who also support= ed the legislation at first, took a public stand against it yesterday, kill= ing any chance of overriding the veto.
After the original story hit the airwaves, journalists bombarded the cou= ncil with requests for interviews, conservative commentator (and Montgomery= County resident) George Will compared the council to the Taliban on ABC's = "This Week," and the Moscow Times even published an editorial on the= subject. That's Moscow, Russia, folks, not Moscow, Idaho.
Denis said he urged Duncan to veto the bill, announcing that he could no= t support legislation that the public "overwhelmingly" opposed.
Translat= ion: They hate us. They freakin' hate us!
Denis originally voted for the legislation because he believed indoor ai= r-quality health issues should be addressed, but changed his mind after he = said it generated "widespread ridicule."
"I got put in the same bag as the Taliban," Denis said in the Washing= ton Post. "The public has spoken. The reputation of the county is liter= ally at stake here."
No, I think the reputation of Montgomery County has pretty well been est= ablished for years to come, and council member Michael Subin even confirmed= it.
"We've become the laughingstock of the world," he said.
All I can say is thank God that I live in a country where humor columnis= ts and political columnists can join forces and rise up to ridicule and hum= iliate people who need it most.
Which is anyone but me.