Monday, July 03, 2006

Recent commentary: delicious irony

Should fireworks be sold in Wisconsin if they're illegal to use?

(published 7-Jul-2006, Appleton Post-Crescent)

This is one of those delicious ironies in the law with which we are bountifully blessed: it's illegal to use something that's legal to sell. I think the arrangement we have is perfectly fine. It's even sensible.

That annoying Unitarian, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said one very wise thing: "Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." There is this yearning in the human soul for logic even though most people couldn't construct a logically sound argument to save their lives. Most of all there's a yearning for logic and consistency in our stupendous body of laws.

However, that isn't quite as strong as the yearning most people have to make laws that prohibit things that other people seem to be having too much fun doing. That's the biggie. "There oughta be a law!" is nearly our national motto. "If only those terrible people across the street were forced to stop [FILL IN THE BLANK WITH YOUR FAVORITE PET PEEVE THAT EVERYBODY ELSE INSISTS ON DOING TO YOUR COMPLETE DISGUST AND EXASPERATION], everything would be SO much better!"

Go ahead! Try it right now. There's got to be some socially unacceptable neighbor of yours that you'd wish would dry up and blow away. Why not wish for a law that would magically transform them into intelligent, neat, friendly, law-abiding, and quiet people? Hmmm, but that would mean you'd actually have to interact with them, wouldn't it? Maybe it's better to just kvetch about them. I'm too tired to force somebody to be agreeable today...

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Oh my, oh my... the man across the street drives a tow truck -- one of the new electrical pulley ones -- it's a diesel and a few times a week he wakes me up really early (5:30 am or so) trying to crank that baby awake. Then, he lets it sit and idle... I could just kick his ass.

Brian Dunbar said...

There's got to be some socially unacceptable neighbor of yours that you'd wish would dry up and blow away.

I AM the socially unacceptable neighbor. I'm just a guy who used to have a few acres in BFE Texas and hasn't gotten used to living in the 'burbs.

I'm not sure what's wrong with putting a Laz-E-Boy in the front yard, filling the kids wading pool with Coors and sitting in front a portable A/C on a long extention cord. This? That's a BB gun (for entertainment with the empties) and it didn't have enough range for the shot to leave the yard. Mostly.

But boy howdy when the cops came by there was quite a hoo-ya.

Steve Erbach said...

Susan,

» a few times a week he wakes me up really early (5:30 am or so) trying to crank that baby awake. «

...and I don't suppose his house is zoned commercial, is it? Hah! I knew it!

We used to live on a busy street corner (about 20,000 cars a day) around which motorcycles would come late at night. By some trick of the street acoustics, the sound would reverberate like an echo chamber in our bedroom. Hard to combat that kind of noise pollution. We moved away to a quiter neighborhood eventually.

Best of luck with your trucker. Sugar in the gas tank, perhaps?

Steve Erbach
The Town Crank

Jessica Menn said...

***Sugar in the gas tank, perhaps?***

Sadly, there already is a law against vandalism.

Steve Erbach said...

Brian,

» This? That's a BB gun (for entertainment with the empties) and it didn't have enough range for the shot to leave the yard. Mostly. «

Yeah, I'm not too neighborly myself. I lived in one house in Oshkosh for ten years without knowing the names of more than one of the neighbors. Me and my first wife just kept to ourselves. Mostly.

But maybe not knowing the neighbors was a good thing. One fellow decided to try his hand a selling life insurance. He was the definition of "sad sack". I let him down gently when he came to our door. But a few weeks later the wife and I were awaken by a big "WHUMP!" sound that rattled the windows. I got dressed and went outside. There was a glow from the other side of the block. I trudged through the snow to the corner...and there it was: a house was burning like crazy. The sirens were just starting to sound. One of the neighbors said that the woman and children of the house had gotten out before the explosion...

"Explosion?" says I.

"Yeah, that guy left the gas on all over the house and then lit a match."

Turns out it was that fellow that tried to sell life insurance. I read later that he'd come out of the burning house with all kinds of bad burns and was carted down to the Milwaukee burn center where he later died.

So maybe you don't want to get to know your neighbors too closely. Maybe if I'd bought an insurance policy from that guy he'd have perked up enough to live on for a while. Maybe mine was the final refusal this guy had before throwing in the towel in the insurance game.

Life is funny sometimes.

Steve Erbach
The Town Crank

Steve Erbach said...

Jessica,

I suppose you're right. I was never much a one for vandalism anyway. But, brother!

Steve Erbach
The Town Crank