Respectful Insolence

This has to be one of the most idiotic laws I’ve ever heard of. It’s so mind-bogglingly unjust that no further comment is really necessary other than that it would have been a minor matter indeed to fix the law so it could achieve its intended purpose (to prevent overcrowding) while not tearing families apart. The City Council had a chance to do just that that and explicitly voted not to.

Afarensis has more.

I tell ya, I have to stop with the political blogging and get back to something medicine-, science-, or skepticism-related. First the atheist Holocaust denier and white supremacist, Fred Phelps’ hateful religious nutjobs, then Vox Day’s idiotic historical analogies on immigration, then Ward Churchill’s trying to become a left-wing version of David Irving, and now this.

I need some sanity. (Maybe it’s the grant writing that’s making me wallow in this craziness. It certainly has had me sitting in front of my computer for long stretches of many hours.) In any case, I think my prolonged foray into more or less straight political blogging has gone on long enough for now. Politics is like a spice for this blog; just a little interspersed with my usual topics adds flavor, but too much is nasty.

Now watch, something that gets my goat will pop up tonight and force me to pay attention to it. If that happens, I’m going to resist. Maybe I can find a good paranormal story to debunk.

Comments

  1. #1 Nathan Williams
    May 17, 2006

    Um, that “most idiotic law”, or a close variant thereof, is on the books in most municipalites – check your local zoning code, and look up their definition of “family”. From the zoning code of my previous home, the liberal city of Cambridge, MA:

    Family. One or more persons occupying a dwelling unit and living as a single nonprofit housekeeping unit; provided that a group of four or more persons who are not within the second degree of kinship shall not be deemed to constitute a family.

    That Black Jack bothered to enforce it is the only thing at all that is unusual here.

  2. #2 ThePolynomial
    May 17, 2006

    Wow, those immunity boosts from Jamba Juice really, really work!
    (go, orac, go…)

  3. #3 Blair King
    May 17, 2006

    Orac,

    As Nathan notes, laws like this have been enacted all over the place. The purpose of these law (at least in both municipalities where I have seen them debated) are not to punish unmarried couples but rather to reduce uncontrolled increases in local population density and to provide a bylaw that will allow municipalities a means to prevent the proliferation of illegal suites.

    When a municipality plans its services (sewers/water/parking) it does so using density calculations based on single-family homes being used as homes to single families. The proliferation of “in-law suites” that are rented out illegally has resulted in a dramatic increase in population density which can over-stress sewer and water services and overwhelms available parking.

    As for its use to enforce rigid socio-political dogma…what is that they say about “unintended consequences”?

  4. #4 Stogoe
    May 17, 2006

    The idiocy is not the law itself but that the city council explicitly voted to punish non-married couples.

  5. #5 Orac
    May 17, 2006

    The idiocy is not the law itself but that the city council explicitly voted to punish non-married couples.

    Precisely! As I said above:

    “…it would have been a minor matter indeed to fix the law so it could achieve its intended purpose (to prevent overcrowding) while not tearing families apart. The City Council had a chance to do just that that and explicitly voted not to.”

  6. #6 Chance
    May 17, 2006

    t could achieve its intended purpose (to prevent overcrowding) while not tearing families apart

    Orac, if you really believe “to prevent overcrowding” was the town’s intended purpose in enacting the law, you’re a lot more naive than your other writings indicate.

    It’s obviously religious in tone and designed expressly to punish “living in sin.” If anyone on that town council has the slightest concern for married couples having “too many” children, I’ll eat my hat.

  7. #7 Orac
    May 17, 2006

    Actually, I think you’re at least partially incorrect. The usual reason that such laws are enacted is to keep large numbers of low income people (read: immigrants or other ethnic groups the town doesn’t like and fears will bring down property values) from occupying a house or apartment unit. However, because of sloppy wording this particular law had the additional effect that you mention.

    You are, of course, correct that the purpose of the town council in refusing to modify the law so that unmarried couples with more than one child together would be exempted from the law must almost certainly have been religious and designed to punish “living in sin.”

  8. #8 ebohlman
    May 17, 2006

    As has been pointed out elsewhere, such ordinances also make communities hostile to same-sex couples who are raising children (and the proportion of same-sex couples who are raising children is only slightly less than that of opposite-sex couples). Of course, that can be used as a powerful legal argument in favor of same-sex marriage; at the very least, it will force opponents to declare explicitly that they want same-sex couples to break up (they’re currently hesitant to come right out and say this because it sounds too harsh).

  9. #9 Abel PharmBoy
    May 18, 2006

    Grantwriting just makes me plain cranky, but all of these stories are generally unnerving. Just returned from Colorado and even folks in tolerant-to-the-max Boulder wish Prof Churchill would take his version of the 1st amendment elsewhere.

  10. #10 Ruth
    May 18, 2006

    And the week before the nearby town of Petosi invited an Answers in Genesis speaker to give his talk at the local high school. Missouri is nice, but takes getting used to after Ann Arbor.

  11. #11 Orac
    May 18, 2006

    Grantwriting just makes me plain cranky,

    Me too, which is perhaps why I couldn’t resist fisking Vox one more time with today’s post. Besides, what happened with his article was too hilarious not to comment.

  12. #12 epador
    May 18, 2006

    The zoning laws are there for a reason, its not religious or moral, and if they grant one exception it opens the floodgates.

    Now if the current body THINKS they are enforcing it for moral reasons, thats a problem, but the law does need to be enforced. Blair and Nathan have it. I’ve been there at similar small town meetings, and the council may be prejudiced, but they are making a correct decision.

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