Tree-Hugging Dirt Worship

July 16, 2011

Everyone belongs in jail

Filed under: Soapbox — Tags: , — paragardener @ 3:32 pm

I saw a sign posted over the bottle return at Kroger’s, informing me that it is a crime 1) to return an out-of-state returnable and 2) to throw any returnable in the trash. So if I had an out-of-state bottle, I’d have to carry it with me through the whole store and find a way to recycle it afterward (ok, I happen to have curb-side pickup, but for people in other areas it could be a real pain in the ass). If I lazed out and returned my New York can, I’d face a $100 fine. A second violation can lead to 93 days in jail — for ripping off the state to the tune of $0.20.

Many towns impose a general penalty of up to 90 or 93 days in jail, plus fines, for violating their ordinances. Some crimes for which Michiganders can serve three months’ time: growing any “unsuitable” plant anywhere on your property in Oak Park; dropping a fast-food cup on someone’s lawn in Mount Clemens; being found in a house where lewdness is allowed or encouraged in Mount Clemens (like a house where people have a dirty sense of humor?); fraternizing with the patrons of your bar in Rochester; idling, loafing, or eating food in the Rochester cemetery; providing “harbourage” for snakes in Sault St. Marie; and storing building materials without a building permit in Walled Lake (nails and screws count).

Those are just some crimes you can commit before you try to correctly pay your taxes or drive on the public streets.

Of course you say, “Ethan, that is absurd. No one is going to jail because of a garter snake burrow or a ‘disappeared’ returnable.” That’s mostly true. Governments use some discretion to avoid the rational consequences of their outrageous laws. But if you make an enemy in the local government, all bets are off. The law becomes a toolkit with which your enemies in government can harass you, lock you up, and/or seize your property.

Of course I’m thinking of Julie Bass, whose front-yard vegetable garden set off a fight with the City of Oak Park. When they realized that there was no law against having a vegetable garden in the front, cretins working for the City decided to charge Julie with dog license violations that had already been dealt with when Julie bought the licenses and paid late fees… it’s kind of like charging someone with possession of marijuana because you can prove that they smoked a joint sometime last year. Speaking of marijuana, that’s the tool of choice for going after “hippies” … the Nixon White House almost succeeded in deporting John Lennon due to an old pot charge. So these fights can involve the biggest movers of culture, or people who totally expected to go on about living their lives in quiet anonymity.

In the interest of fairness, I suggest that everyone be permanently sent to jail. I mean, consider every time when you couldn’t find a public trash can or you made an ass — a “public nuisance” — of yourself. You males have, each and every one of you, urinated in a public place (perverts!). Have you even bothered to read the law? You belong in jail! Plus, it will provide lots of jobs, building and maintaining and operating our gulag nation. Should any of us earn a release, the outside world will be pretty safe with all the criminals locked up. There won’t be any lewd houses or fraternizing barkeeps out there to mess up your moral compass.

There is one other possibility, but it’s pretty radical. We could trim the law down so that everyone isn’t constantly in violation. Then, we’d have reason to believe that a rule-breaker had actually done something wrong. But really, will governments ever cut back their own power to harass and neutralize “troublemakers”? I just can’t see that happening.


Special recognition to for providing me with some absurdities.


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