Between the Lines

Between the Lines by David Lias At first blush, three proposed ordinances introduced at Vermillion�s City Council meeting Monday appear to land in the �antiquated and sometimes humorous� city law category.

You know � something like:

In Teaneck, NJ, it is illegal to spit on the sidewalk on Sundays and on even-numbered weekdays.

In Walla Walla, WA, men who don�t tip their hats while walking past a woman may be jailed for seven days.

You get the picture.

Proposed ordinances that received their first reading at Monday�s city council meeting include a new law that prohibits public urination and defecation.

The city, through a second proposed law, hopes to outlaw the use of profane, vulgar or obscene language in the presence of any child under 12 years old.

A third proposal more clearly defines what the city views as disorderly conduct. If this ruling is successfully passed (and we have no doubt it will be) you can be nabbed for disorderly conduct if you

? engage in fighting or violent behavior,

? make unreasonable noise,

? operate amplified sound equipment at an unreasonably high volume,

? disturb any lawful assembly, obstruct vehicle or pedestrian traffic, or

? commit any act which tends to corrupt the public morals or outrages public decency.

Do the rulings seem a bit old-fashioned according to today�s contemporary standards? In some ways, yes.

No doubt most people would agree that children shouldn�t be exposed to someone who weaves a thread of profanity in his or her speech.

Ironically, there are places beyond the city�s control where children under 12 are bombarded with vulgarities.

The DakotaDome is such a place. Just listen to the Coyote Crazies when they are, well, being crazy.

Parents of young children are growing increasingly aware that even their own homes are vulnerable to profane language. Have you watched television lately?

Give more thought about just the very limited cases listed above, and it becomes clear why Vermillion needs to pass these laws.

We all would like to think that communities are able to keep a degree of civility within their city limits without passing ordinances requiring it.

Cities are populated by human beings, however, and unfortunately, part of some people�s human nature is to do things that are anything but civilized.

That sounds crazy, we know. If you were properly potty-trained (and we�ll give you the benefit of the doubt) you should already know that relieving yourself in public is a big no-no.

As we encourage the city to forge ahead with these new ordinances, we also realize they bring new challenges.

New laws mean more things that local police officers have to watch for.

And new laws, even common sense ones, no doubt leave some people with the sense that government is maybe starting to go a bit overboard, and trying too hard to regulate our day-to-day lives.

We have a hunch that the city wouldn�t be considering laws outlawing public defecation and cursing and disorderly conduct, however, if they weren�t needed.

The three proposals also make a lot more sense than these actual city laws (we�re not making these up):

It is illegal to say �Oh, Boy� in Jonesboro, GA.

In Devon, CT, it is unlawful to walk backwards after sunset.

It�s illegal in Wilbur, WA, to ride an ugly horse.

In Bexley, OH, a city law prohibits the installation and usage of slot machines in outhouses.

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