August 25, 2011
Let Freedom Ring! However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell.
Welcome to the inaugural edition of “Let Freedom Ring! However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell,” a periodic series in which we explore the new and exciting ways in which the notions of freedom and liberty are being interpreted today.
Rescuing a Baby Woodpecker.
OLD: An act of kindness.
NEW: A Violation of the Federal Migratory Bird Act.
An eleven-year-old girl came to the rescue of a baby woodpecker that was about to become a meal for her father’s cat. Not being able to find the bird’s mother, but still fearing for the bird’s safety, she and her mother took it upon themselves to care for the bird until it was ready to be released, a true example of both independent initiative and selflessness, indeed the very embodiment of the American spirit.
And that’s where the trouble started.
Confronted a short while later by a Fed with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the small girl and her mother were informed that they were in violation of the federal Migratory Bird Act. While they released the bird safely a short while later they were visited a couple of weeks later by the same Fed who had caught them, this time accompanied by an armed state trooper (hey, the little girl was now a known felon). The mother was issued a $535 fine and told she could face up to a year in jail.
You know what they say, “Don’t be kind, if you can’t do the time.”
Later, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said it was all a crazy misunderstanding and that they had never intended to issue the fine, send one of their officials, request armed escort, or threaten the mother with a year in jail in front of her terrified daughter.
The lesson? If you really care about endangered migratory bird species, just let the cat eat the bird next time.
Tearing Down Your Old Chain Link Fence.
OLD: Sprucing up your property.
NEW: Removing an important contextual clue to the original occupants of the neighborhood.
Wanting to improve her property, a homeowner in Alexandria Virginia replaced a dilapidated chain link fence with a brand new black aluminum fence. When zoning officials came out to the property to check on an unrelated matter, they noticed the missing chain link fence. They were aghast, asking if it could be recovered and reinstalled, thus returning the property to its historically important rundown roots:
"While many feel that [chain-link] fences have negative connotations, this material has played an important role in the development of mid-century vernacular housing and their cultural landscape.... By eradicating this 'simple fencing solution,' the applicant would be removing an important contextual clue to the original occupants of this neighborhood."
We’ll be honest, we did not consider what important role historical preservationists might think our stained fifty-year-old Formica counter tops might have played in our neighborhood’s cultural landscape when we renovated the kitchen. (Best guess: “Tacky.”)
At the moment at least, the homeowner is being allowed to keep her new fence, however we suggest she find other ways to celebrate her mid-century vernacular housing, such as parking on the front lawn. Sure, parking on your front lawn may have negative connotations, but this “simple parking solution,” will ensure the important contextual clues to the original occupants will be preserved. (Even more so, if she can find mid-century cinder blocks for the wheels.)
OLD: A harmless hobby that edifies and delights.
NEW: A violation of The Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act.
The Convention on Cultural Property Implementation Act addresses the very real problem inherent in the belief that property belongs to people who purchased it, rather than people who did not. The forced transfer of property from people who own it to people who don’t is called “repatriation,” however you are cautioned not to try to “repatriate” your neighbor’s wallet, as that would be considered theft. The difference? Shut up, that’s the difference.
Most recently, a judge dismissed a case brought by a Missouri-based nonprofit that had attempted to import coins originally minted in China and Cyprus which had been purchased in London, but which were seized by U.S. Customs under an agreement with Cyprus and China forbidding the importation of coins from their countries.
“Wait,” you are probably saying to yourself, “Cyprus is a country?” Also, “If they bought the coins in London, what’s the problem?
The problem is they couldn’t prove the coins origin. (We would guess China and Cyprus.) When it comes to deciding between the interests of American citizens, and complying with agreements which they were not party to made by executive order with foreign nations, we’re going to have to assume the Americans are guilty until proven innocent.
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It sure is comforting to know these people are keeping a close eye on wrong-doers.
Must stay active or someone will try to cut the old budget.
Posted by: barryjo | Aug 25, 2011 9:27:14 PM