October 09, 2013

Let Freedom Ring! However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell. – Government Shutdown Edition

“Let Freedom Ring!  However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell,” is a periodic series in which we explore the new and exciting ways in which the notions of freedom and liberty are being interpreted in our modern and progressive world.

Visiting Yellowstone

OUT: A chance to see the nation’s natural majesty.

IN: A chance to see the nation ruled by His Majesty.

Members of a tour bus group that included many foreign visitors and senior citizens found themselves caught inside Yellowstone National Park when the shutdown began.  Clearly, these were innocent parties, and so the Park Service ensured that armed guards locked them inside their hotel, prevented them from taking pictures, and made sure to surround Old Faithful whenever it was about to erupt.

This might seem extreme, but at least they eventually forced the group to make the two-and-a-half hour drive out of the park without being allowed to stop for a bathroom break.

Some have described these as “Gestapo tactics.”  Come on, this is America!  They were just kept captive inside a large building against their will, denied the ability to take photos, had their activities curtailed by armed guards, and weren’t allowed to go to the bathroom when they wanted.

But Gestapo tactics?  That’s ridiculous.

The Gestapo would have let you go to the bathroom.


OUT: Our most precious resource.

IN: Expendable.

Unlike in, say, Washington DC where, and this is a total coincidence, their bosses work, the National Park Service has closed a number of roads that run through park land, including the Foothills Parkway in Tennessee which is used by a local school district to bus children. Naturally they did this without warning and while school was in session. Why, you ask?

It’s for the children.

You see, the only other roads are impassable by busses and are otherwise considered dangerous “white knuckle” drives even by car.  Now you know what they’re talking about when they say that having a large activist government is important to the safety of your children.

Because otherwise, they’re going to kill them.

Visiting Gettysburg National Military Park

OUT: Viewing Pickett’s charge.

IN: Charging the Pickets.

Due to the government shutdown and the strain that has put on the National Park Service, scores of rangers have been deployed to set up barricades to keep people out of the Gettysburg National Military Park.  However, there is one thing you do not want to get in-between: A history buff, and a Civil War park. And so American citizens are knocking down barricades and entering the park, helping themselves to the park by avoiding the very same Park Rangers they used to seek out for that help.

If you are like most Planet Moron readers, you probably vaguely recall that the Battle of Gettysburg was fought mostly outside, and not in a virtual reality world created by an alien race in order to preserve a record of their civilization (which you are pretty sure now was an episode form Star Trek) and wonder if preventing people from wandering around in an open field is the best use of resources.

That is why you are not a professional White House reporter who knows better than to ask such impertinent questions.

Going Out For a Jog

OUT: A healthy endeavor.

IN: Illegal.

We know that promoting physical fitness is an essential task of the federal government. That is why, while most federal web sites are down, such as the one for the USDA, the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” site is still going strong. Sure, the USDA shutdown limits access to resources vital to farmers and others, but we’ve got school salad bars to promote for God’s sake.

So, why then was a runner who had parked in a remote and un-barricaded parking lot in the Valley Forge National Historical Park greeted upon his return by two very un-furloughed Park Rangers who were waiting to give him a ticket?

You know, you ask a lot of questions. Have you been audited lately?


October 9, 2013 at 03:03 PM in Current Affairs, Let Freedom Ring! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 27, 2012

Let Freedom Ring! However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell. – “It’s For The Children” Edition

“Let Freedom Ring!  However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell,” is a periodic series in which we explore the new and exciting ways in which the notions of freedom and liberty are being interpreted in our modern and progressive world.

Childhood Hunger

Out: National disgrace.

In: National Policy.

Nobody wants to see a child go hungry.

Unless you’re Michelle Obama.

As part of the First Lady’s war on obesity, new federal school lunch guidelines limit the number of calories that can be served and often substitute “healthy” foods that kids won’t eat anyway.  These standards are uniform without making exceptions for more active kids, such as those on sports teams or who work before school.

Think of it as kind of the “Mao Jacket” of school lunches.

As far as Michelle Obama is concerned, no child in this great nation of ours should have to sit in school, unable to concentrate, just because he or she is too full. Not when we clearly have the means to dispose of all those carrot sticks and apple slices that end up in the trash.

Come to think of it, the Administration’s overall approach to economic policy makes a lot more sense now.

Giving Away Food to Needy Children

Out: A Charitable Act of Selflessness to be Celebrated.

In: A $600-a-Day Fine

In what is apparently a coordinated effort to see to it that kids go hungry, Philadelphia authorities cracked down on Angela Prattis for distributing food to needy kids at a gazebo on her property in the summer. While she was working with the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and had all her other paperwork in order, she came up against what was apparently a zoning issue.

While the city cracked down on her, she obviously had good intentions, so Chester Township business manager William Pisarek was of course willing to go out of his way to help out:

"I don't think it's my responsibility to go to her to say, 'why don’t you come to talk to me to see if there’s something that we can do to help your program.’”

That word you're looking for to describe Mr. Pisarek?  It's "hero." 

Children Playing Outside in Front of Their House

Out: A timeless scene played out all across America.

In: Child abuse.

Tammy Cooper of LaPorte, Texas, made the mistake of letting her children go outside and ride their scooters rather than keeping them inside the house where they could be doing something less provocative, like staring at the television all day.

A neighbor, apparently disturbed at the unfamiliar site of children playing outside in the street, called the cops even though Ms. Cooper had been sitting on her front lawn watching her 6 and 9-year-olds. After careful consideration of the situation and taking into account the best interests of the children, the LaPorte police department decided to tear the woman away from her family while her daughter grabbed an officer’s leg and begged him, “Please, please don’t take my mom to jail. Please, she didn’t do anything wrong,” and lock her up for 18 hours.

It was kind of like a scene out of a Rockwell painting, only instead of an officer sitting with the boy at a lunch counter, it’s an officer hauling a mother off to jail for while her children cry because they were playing outside.

It kind of brings a tear of joy to our eye. At least we think that’s a tear of joy.

A Young Girl Drawing Pictures in Chalk on The Sidewalk

Out: A Charming and Harmless Display of Creative Expression and a Sure Sign That Summer Has Arrived.

In: Against the rules.

As “Innovations and Courtyard Traditions at Stapleton,” a sub-association of the Stapleton MCA (Master Community Association) in Denver, Colorado, points out,

“Anything that offends, disturbs or interferes with the peaceful enjoyment (of shared space) isn’t allowed.”

It was not immediately clear whether a three-year-old girl drawing pictures of flowers and hearts in chalk on the sidewalk was offensive, disturbing, or interfered with people’s “peaceful enjoyment” of walking along pale-grey slabs of concrete, but apparently some neighbors had complained.

Hey, it’s not like she drew a picture of chalk art Mohammad. Now that would be reprehensible and disgusting.


September 27, 2012 at 01:34 PM in Let Freedom Ring! | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 11, 2012

Let Freedom Ring! However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell. – You’re a Racist Edition

“Let Freedom Ring!  However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell,” is a periodic series in which we explore the new and exciting ways in which the notions of freedom and liberty are being interpreted in our modern and progressive world.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches

OUT: A common and economical lunch choice.

IN: An ethnonormative example of white privilege.

Fortunately, the thoroughly modern administrators of the Portland, Oregon school system can see right through the thin veneer of those who claim a PB&J “is just a sandwich” and expose it for what it is:

A sandwich with issues.

The problem came up when a teacher used a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as an example in the classroom. As local Principal Verenice Gutierrez points out,

“What about Somali or Hispanic students, who might not eat sandwiches?”

You might be thinking, “Exactly, what if they suffer from gluten intolerance or maybe are trying to lose a few pounds on Atkins?” But that’s not it at all. Principal Guttierrez offers an alternative to illustrate the real problem:

“Another way would be to say: ‘Americans eat peanut butter and jelly, do you have anything like that?’ Let them tell you. Maybe they eat torta. Or pita.”

Really, you have to stop being such a racist and treating everyone equally.

First, you need to assume that people who aren’t white are not Americans. In addition to ridding yourself of the racist assumption that anyone who is a citizen no matter where they are from “is as American as me,” you will also really be helping to streamline some matters in Arizona.

Second, you have to assume minority students are only familiar with their own ethnic food. You see a Chinese student? No way she's even seen a PB&J sandwich, never mind eaten one.  Italians? They’re probably wolfing down plates of ravioli for lunch or something. Irish? A couple of pints of Guinness will do it for the drunk bastards. Estonians?  Who knows, but it’s important we be as condescending to them as possible, too, so they don’t feel left out.  White kids?  Probably a mayonnaise sandwich on white bread with some more mayonnaise for good measure.  Show that kid a taco and he’ll probably become confused and disoriented at the unfamiliar and exotic corn shell placed before him.

In totally unrelated news, Salsa surpassed Ketchup sales 20 years ago.

We simply have to break through the kind of rank racism that assumes a huge, inclusive, diverse, and dynamic, but ultimately common, culture binds us all together as individuals and instead assume that a person’s race or ethnicity is determinative of their behavior.  For example, one of Principal Guttierrez’s initiatives:

Encourage “black and Latino” boys to join separate, segregated “drum groups.”

Do you think that perhaps setting up a drum group for minority students simultaneously plays to hideous racial stereotypes and is itself, racist?

“When white people do it, it is not a problem, but if it’s for kids of color, then it’s a problem? Break it down for me. That’s your white privilege, and your whiteness.”

You whitey white white whiteness white guy, you!

What if you feel that way but aren't white?

  1. That's just not possible as no minorities think that way.
  2. You don't want to know.

Regardless, Guttierrez has a plan:

“Our focus school and our Superintendent’s mandate that we improve education for students of color, particularly Black and Brown boys, will provide us with many opportunities to use the protocols of Courageous Conversations in data teams, team meetings, staff meetings, and conversations amongst one another.”


Equity training aside, Scott School must teach the same number of students with fewer teachers and resources. Down five full-time positions this year, including two reading specialists, Gutierrez is trying desperately to do more with less.

At least they have their priorities straight.


September 11, 2012 at 03:08 PM in Let Freedom Ring! | Permalink | Comments (4) | TrackBack

October 13, 2011

Let Freedom Ring! However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell. – October 2011 Edition

“Let Freedom Ring!  However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell,” is a periodic series in which we explore the new and exciting ways in which the notions of freedom and liberty are being interpreted in our modern and progressive world.

Displaying the American Flag For a Banquet Being Held at a Local Restaurant.

OUT: Patriotic.
IN: Disruptive.

When 80-year-old Marti Warren attempted to bring an American flag into an Oxford, Alabama Olive Garden for a planned Kiwanis Club banquet, alert restaurant employees moved quickly to stop her in order to:

“Avoid disrupting the dining experience for all other guests.”

But for their quick thinking, imagine the mayhem that might have ensued had Ms. Warren succeeded in displaying the American flag, what with its provocative stars and inflammatory stripes. No doubt the unfamiliar textile, which the club had planned to be the object of some kind of allegiance “pledge” would have resulted in the complete breakdown of the social order tearing at the very fabric of our cultural bonds and making it really hard to get that order for Venetian Apricot Chicken in anything like a reasonable amount of time.

Setting up a Haunted House in Your Neighborhood

OUT: A delightful treat for the local kids and a harmless way to build community spirit and help collect money for charity.
IN: Code violation.

For six years the Stelle family has spent the weeks before Halloween creating a haunted house in their Freemont, California neighborhood and together with friends and neighbors have managed to put on a frightfully good time for local children. 

That is why Freemont officials have ordered it destroyed.

Apparently, the Stelle family forgot to get a permit to build the haunted house partly because it never occurred to them they needed a permit to build a haunted house. What is the building code for a haunted house, anyway?  Does it have to be Werewolf accessible?  Provide ample broom parking?  Be nondiscriminatory towards all ghosts regardless of whether or not they’re friendly?

That is unclear, but what is clear is that the Stelles and their co-conspirators have six days to comply with Freemont haunted house ordinances and tear the terrifyingly unpermitted structure down.

It’s for the children, you know.

Aging TV Star Makes Increasingly Bizarre and Outrageous Comments in Public.

OUT: Look on in pity in hopes she gets the help she needs.
IN: Give her a new TV series.

Roseanne Barr made some news last week when she suggested that bankers who refused to turn more of their private property over to the government should be beheaded.  Some have suggested she was only joking, and come to think of it, an avowed socialist appearing on a Russian television program suggesting bringing back the Guillotine to execute the bourgeois is quite the knee slapper. In fact, so much so, that NBC has decided to pick up her new sitcom,  “Downwardly Mobile,” in which the multi-millionaire actress will play a woman living in a trailer park.

Being Told by Bureaucrats That You Have to Tear Down Your Children’s Tree House

OUT: Using the opportunity to teach your children the importance of questioning the mercurial nature of power as wielded by the state.
IN: Using the opportunity to teach your children the importance of unquestioning obedience to the mercurial nature of power as wielded by the state.

After having built an elaborate tree house in his yard, Mark Grapin was informed that he should have gotten a permit to build the tree house as it is considered an “addition,” and further, since it was technically in his “front” yard (he lives on a corner lot) he couldn’t’ get one anyway and must tear the tree house down. Having already lost one appeal, Mr. Grapin has one chance left.  Asked what he would tell his kids if he loses, the distraught dad said what many a patriot has said before when confronted with the petty tyranny of the state:

“Daddy makes mistakes. We tried our best. I made a mistake by not knowing enough.”

It’s like Thomas Paine reincarnated.


October 13, 2011 at 05:09 PM in Let Freedom Ring! | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 21, 2011

Let Freedom Ring! However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell. – Law Enforcement Edition

“Let Freedom Ring!  However, You’re Going To Need a Permit For The Bell,” is a periodic series in which we explore the new and exciting ways in which the notions of freedom and liberty are being interpreted in our modern and progressive world.

Defending Your Family by Shooting a Grizzly Bear

OLD: Hero.
NEW: Criminal.

An Idaho man last month shot a grizzly bear that had wandered into his yard, threatening his wife and two of his children.

If you are like most American parents, you have only one question:

Was the bear okay?

Unfortunately, the bear died, and the man, Jeremy Hill, was subsequently charged with violating the Endangered Species Act.  No charges were brought against the bear as human children populations are abundant throughout the Pacific Northwest.

While Mr. Hill initially faced up to a year in jail and $50,000 in fines, he eventually agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and pled guilty to not waiting for federal agents to come shoot the bear, as any law-abiding citizen should do. We mean, any law abiding widower left to raise his surviving children on his own.

Defending Yourself And Your Coworkers by Facing Down Armed Robbers.

OLD: Hero.
NEW: Unemployed

A Michigan pharmacist found himself face to face with two armed gunmen as he worked the night shift at a Walgreens in Benton Township, Michigan.  Staring down the barrel of a gun and fearing for his life, the pharmacist, Jeremy Hoven, clearly cracked under the pressure, completely forgetting his employer’s non-escalation policy, however remembering his firearms training and drew his permitted hand gun, shooting at the robbers and forcing them to flee.

Given that Walgreen’s policy is that “compromise is safer," a policy typically arrived at when you are doing something other than looking down the barrel of a gun (such as sitting safely in your corporate office), the company fired Hoven.

Let that be a lesson to you out there. Particularly to you armed robbers.


Minding Your Own Business

OLD: A time honored American tradition.
NEW: A crime.

The trouble started when a number of people living in rural Antelope Valley, California, were found to be not bothering anyone.  Concerned by this blatant regard for others, Los Angeles County formed “Nuisance Abatement Teams” to address the non-growing problem.

Given the inherent danger involved in confronting people with a history of keeping to themselves and the natural hazards involved in any building code enforcement action, these NATs swarm homes with armed agents, the better to ensure no one tries to run to the bathroom and bring the place up to code (perhaps by installing a GFI, or maybe putting in a vapor barrier).

As a result of these actions, we hope Los Angeles can finally get a handle on these “public nuisance conditions on private property," in the middle of nowhere.

Being Tied up While Your Place is Ransacked

OLD: A crime
NEW: A law enforcement action.

A strip club in Edinburg, Texas was raided by forty law enforcement officers who tied up everyone inside while they searched the place for drugs.

While they did not find any drugs, they did find $1,500 in cash, $8,000 in club “tokens,” the manager’s wallet, laptops, tablet computers, and backpacks and decided to take those instead. 

They really didn’t have any choice given the fact that there were no drugs to take.

These items are being held indefinitely as evidence, presumably for the crime of “intent to carry a wallet,” and “possession of cash.”


September 21, 2011 at 09:01 PM in Let Freedom Ring! | Permalink | Comments (6) | TrackBack

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.)

Collecting Antiquities

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.


August 25, 2011 at 04:02 PM in Let Freedom Ring! | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack