Chicago Ain't No Kind of Town

In an op-ed in Sunday's Chicago Tribune that is based on the cover story of the August-September cover story for reason (on sale now but why not subscribe already?), Senior Editor Radley Balko noted the nanny-state ways of the Windy City:

At Reason Magazine, we recently took a look at how the 35 most-populous cities in the United States balance individual freedom with government paternalism. We ranked the cities on how much freedom they afford their residents to indulge in alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex, gambling and food. And, for good measure, we also looked at the cities' gun laws, use of traffic and surveillance cameras, and tossed in an "other" category to catch weird laws such as New York's ban on unlicensed dancing, or Chicago's tax on bottled water.

The sad news, Chicagoans, is that your town came in dead last. And it wasn't even close.

Read the whole thing.

And then check out this response, from Trib columnist Mary Schmich:

[The Reason folks] whimpered about our police cameras, our tax on bottled water, our high cigarette and alcohol taxes, and, in the way of many a 10-year-old, seemed to equate the fact that we can't have whatever fun we want whenever we want it with an assault on our basic freedom. But where some people see paternalism, we weirdos believe that most of Chicago's rules help turn unruly city dwellers into civilized citizens. Big cities are like big families-put a lot of people into a small space and somebody has to be charged with the power to say "Stop it."

Whole thing here.

reason on the nanny state here.

Update: Jeff Walker of OnMilwaukee applauds the relatively positive ranking for Jeffrey Dahmer's hometown (Milwaukee was deemed sixth-most-free city; Las Vegas took top honors) and notes:

"We like to talk about how fat we are, but there are many chubbier cities. Anyway, Milwaukee is far from a city full of nannies and regulations, and one that still knows how to have fun. Should our government be more imposing or should it just let people make their own decisions about health, risk and vice. There's a balance here, for sure."

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  • TallDave||

    Ah, life in the PRC.

    seemed to equate the fact that we can't have whatever fun we want whenever we want it with an assault on our basic freedom.

    FREEDOM IS SLAVERY was catchier.

  • ||

    I think Mary Schmich was being satirical, right? :o But there are so many layers of irony, I don't know where her real point is (although if I take her article at face value you could slide her all the way over to "authoritarian" on that damn chart).

  • anarcho-capitalist-type libert||

    Big cities are like big families-put a lot of people into a small space and somebody has to be charged with the power to say "Stop it."


    Nope, no paternalism here, nothing to see, keep moving.

  • TallDave||

    I can't decide either Art. I think she was being tongue-in-cheek on actually banning those things, but overall in favor of "paternalism."

    BIG DADDY IS WATCHING

  • ||

    Mary Schmich is basically the reason I never buy the Trib. The combination of elitism and cluelessness was good for a laugh at first, but she isn't even a decent writer.

  • tl;dr||

    "Gosh, libertarians sure are whiny! Now, let me conclude this article by whining about a bunch of mundane crap. THERE OUGHTA BE A LAW."

  • Guy Montag||

    Big cities are like big families-put a lot of people into a small space and somebody has to be charged with the power to say "Stop it."

    So, whoever keeps putting all of those people into that lakeshore concentration camp needs to just quit it.

    I blame the advertising industry.

  • Guy Montag||

    [The Reason folks] whimpered

    Drink! It is after noon you know.

  • ||

    Big cities are like big families-put a lot of people into a small space and somebody has to be charged with the power to say "Stop it."

    [Dr Phil voice]
    How's that working out for ya?
    [/DPV]

  • Jesse Walker||

    Mary Schmich's writing sure has gone downhill since Slaughterhouse-5.

  • Tom Parmenter||

    Mary Smich revitalized "Brenda Starr". She can do no wrong in my eyes. In addition to writing a column and Brenda, she is a ragtime piano player.

    She's not the artist, but the "starry highlights" are back in Brenda's eyes and she is now actually looking for Basil again. Thrills.

  • ||

    Jesus, look at the frown-lines in that finger-wagging twat's face.

  • Guy Montag||

    Jesus, look at the frown-lines in that finger-wagging twat's face.

    And I got a sawbuck says she can't friggin' weld either.

  • zoltan||

    I just knew she was Catholic as I read that paragraph of drivel.

  • Taktix&#174||

    But where some people see paternalism, we weirdos believe that most of Chicago's rules help turn unruly city dwellers into civilized citizens.

    As if it were the city's job to change the behavior of it's citizens.

    And this isn't like a re-education camp how?

  • Cartman||

    ...somebody has to be charged with the power to say "Stop it."

    You will respect mah authoritah!

  • ||

    I've been away. Is Flashdance the meme of the week?

  • ||

    Well, at least he's pretty blatant about it- you're just a child, the government is your parent, and you have to do what it says.

    One of the more blatant examples of paternalism I've seen in a while.

  • Taktix&#174||

    Jesus, look at the frown-lines in that finger-wagging twat's face.

    Yeah, someone should tell her the Flock of Seagulls look died out a while ago...

  • ||

    That was a particularly infuriating article.(mary's).
    Only thing I can imagine is that she's mentally handicapped in some way so that she has no concept of size or scale. The problem isn't necessarily that one small restriction on your freedom equals tyranny, it's that there are thousands and thousands of tiny little restrictions, and they add up to tyranny. So this woman ends her defense of the nanny state by saying that we should outlaw basically anything she doesn't like.
    People in the comments section went on to call for bans on such things as facial hair, styles of headware, etc.
    I don't like provolone cheese, I prefer cheddar. Provolone should be illegal.
    Fucking bitch.

  • ||

    Everybody should RTFA if they haven't. The snippet doesn't do it justice. It's mindblowing. It's like a Rudy Guiliani wet dream.

  • Dagny T.||

    ...rules help turn unruly city dwellers into civilized citizens.

    A rousing chorus of "The Rain In Spain" etc., anyone? By George! I think she's lost it.

    Someone's got to think of the poor, uncivilized Chicagoans, fer gawd's sake.

  • Paul||

    But where some people see paternalism, we weirdos believe that most of Chicago's rules help turn unruly city dwellers into civilized citizens. Big cities are like big families-put a lot of people into a small space and somebody has to be charged with the power to say "Stop it."



    Wow, it's cool that they just come out and admit it now. Wait, or is it?

  • Paul||

    Everybody should RTFA if they haven't. The snippet doesn't do it justice.

    You mean it gets worse?!!

  • ||

    Jesus, look at the frown-lines in that finger-wagging twat's face.

    I'm tellin' ya! I haven't read a Mary Schmich column in years - she's certainly evolved into a severe looking old battle-axe, hasn't she?

    I'm reminded of a quote from Oscar Wilde - by the age of 50, everyone has the face they deserve....

    And all of my city-dwelling friends want to know why I won't ever move back to Chicago proper - do you really have to ask?

  • ||

    Mary Schmich's writing sure has gone downhill since Slaughterhouse-5.

    Oh, she did do that "sunscreen" thing, huh? I always felt disappointed in that because I don't wear sunscreen because I'm black.* :p

    *I've never sunburnt but it is of course a remote possibility.

  • Guy Montag||

    Hey Chicago folk. How are all these rules working out on the South Side?

    (yes, I have heard that The Loop has been restored to paradise, just wondering if paradise made it south, past Cicero Ave.)

  • ||

    The snippet doesn't do it justice. It's mindblowing. It's like a Rudy Guiliani wet dream.

    Win!

  • ||

    Um, was there a link to the list? Did I miss it? Chicago is last, blah blah blah. What are the top five? (If I missed it, sorry. my bad.)

  • :-/||

    based on the cover story of the August-September cover story

    Paging the department of redundancy department.

  • Guy Montag||

    MP,

    Everybody should RTFA if they haven't.

    I thought you disagreed with me on waterboarding, but now you advocate this?

    Or was that someone else?

  • Nigel Watt||

    Oh, she did do that "sunscreen" thing, huh? I always felt disappointed in that because I don't wear sunscreen because I'm black.* :p

    *I've never sunburnt but it is of course a remote possibility.

    So when this woman's wildest dreams are realized and you're required to wear sunscreen to go on the beach (think of the children! They might get cancer because their irresponsible parents don't give them sunscreen!), black people will be included?

  • ||

    I think she just took the crypto out of crypto-fascist.

  • ||

    Guy Montag said:

    I thought you disagreed with me on waterboarding, but now you advocate this?


    You have me confused with the MP in your head.

  • Guy Montag||

    MP,

    Ah, my bad.

    They might get cancer because their irresponsible parents don't give them sunscreen!), black people will be included?

    Idunno, aren't we all really the same race?

  • Guy Montag||

    Um, the quote was from NW, not MP.

  • ||

    Nigel Watt,

    She should have dropped an "or else..." at the end of that Wear Sunscreen piece. Would have been so awesome.

  • zoltan||

    Read some of the comments. At first there are a few old fogies and traditionalists acclaiming the column but then the tide turns, I'm proud to say, with lots of people decrying these ridiculous regulations.

  • ed||

    I think Mary Schmich was being satirical, right?

    Trying to be, and mostly failing. I pity her, though. Publishing her photo along with her little observations is downright cruel, a case of inadvertent piling-on. Talk about ironic!

  • Guy Montag||

    Does Chicago still have that ban on sword fighting (or dueling?) in a burning building on the books?*

    *Heard about it for decades, but never found out from an authoratative source if it was true.

  • ||

    Ah, bibertarians control Chicago with their soft, fuzzy fists. How sad.

    I think she's afraid that if they let Chicagoans run around unfettered by the kind chains of the law, we'd see a reversion to the days of The Untouchables. She's watched too many movies, I'd say.

  • ||

    >>Jesus, look at the frown-lines in that finger-wagging twat's face

    She's not doing herself any favors with that extreme side part in her hair either. She appears to be balding on the right side of her head.

    >>where some people see paternalism...like big families-put a lot of people into a small space and somebody has to be charged with the power

    Is she oblivious to the meaning of her own words or does she just not care?

  • Taktix&#174||

    I feel it appropriate to post the Dennis Leary "Demolition Man Speech" in her comments sections.

    This will have to suffice in lieu of posting my fist in her face.

    I also sent her the following email:

    Mary,

    Please kindly go fuck yourself, you tyrannical bitch.

    Sincerely,

    JMK

  • ||

    We're number one! We're number one!

    But in all seriousness, it is quite demoralizing to live in Chicago as a libertarian and put up with its politics. Unfortunately, I love the city and its people and will probably never leave. Guess I just have to keep fighting the beast from the inside.

  • Guy Montag||

    Is she oblivious to the meaning of her own words or does she just not care?

    Meanings of words mean nothing to the persons of her type.

  • JPF||

    Those suggestions in the Smich have to be jokes right?

  • Barry||

    "RULES BRING REASON"...

    That recalls another Tribune headline:

    "DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN".

  • ||

    BTW, there are a number of crypto-fascists in this town (they would never admit it), that don't seem to care about liberty at all and only seem to care about passing laws and ordinances to control each other. There are libertarians in this town, but we are greatly outnumbered.

  • Guy Montag||

    So, are we going to see the Cubs in a pennant race or not this year?

    What will be the distracting factor that keeps them out of the World Series?

    A. Mangie dog on the field.

    B. Drunken Joe 'Pep' forgetting that he is supposed to stay in NYC.

    C. Image of a former announcer appearing in the ivy.

    D. Image of a deceased, original Second City cast member, appearing in ivy.

    E. Sloppy teamwork.

  • Guy Montag||

    There are libertarians in this town, but we are greatly outnumbered.

    DRINK!

    Wow, two already.

  • Kyle||

    The Sunday column sure does have come great remarks in the comments online, over 300 posts. Good stuff!

  • Marcvs||

    That called for a drink? I want to see your list. I think we need to pass an ordinance to control excessive use of drinking games.

  • TallDave||

    are we going to see the Cubs in a pennant race or not this year?

    Windy City Series baby!

  • ||

    The Trib- that's the paper which published an editorial calling for the repeal of the Second Amendment last week.

    You go, girl!

  • TallDave||

    Does Chicago still have that ban on sword fighting (or dueling?) in a burning building on the books?*

    Yes, but it's only enforced on alternate Tuesdays, so no one really follows it.

  • TallDave||

    Occasionally I regret cancelling my Trib subscription. This is not one of those days.

  • TallDave||

    Hey Chicago folk. How are all these rules working out on the South Side?

    Everyone who can moves to the North Side. Once you get up to Lake Forest and Libertyville (where better for a libertarian to live?), it's full of flags and freedom.

  • Taktix&#174||

    Call me when baseball ceases to be the most boring sport on the planet...

  • 1908||

    What will be the distracting factor that keeps them out of the World Series?

    2003: Bartman Begins

    2008: Bartman Returns

    From a t-shirt

    Tickets to Cubs game: $200
    Chicago Cubs hat: $20
    1987 Walkman: $1.50
    Fucking up your team's chances of winning the World Series: Priceless

  • Invisible Finger||

    Sounds like Mary's got her granny dress in a bunch again.

  • EJM||

    Radley must really like kielbasa: He mentions it in both the Tribune op-ed and the OnMilwaukee story.

  • GG||

    There are libertarians in this town, but we are greatly outnumbered.

    DRINK!

    .....
    That called for a drink?

    I don't think so.

    This does:

    This author should not be writing for "Reason" magazine because he obviously doesn't have any. This guy is obviously a smoker and a litter bug.

    Does threatening to cancel a Trib subscription call for one?:

    You want to see a city of choices?

    I'm canceling my subscription right now. This paper is going downhill. What the hell is Reason Magazine. The Nanny State? This article is garbage.

  • Boston||

    I never knew Dan T was a woman.

  • Ashley||

    Chicago's murder total topped those of all U.S. cities last year. More significantly, Chicago's murder rate -- total homicides divided by the population of 2.9 million -- was the highest of the nine U.S. cities with populations above 1 million. (From "Chicago's tolerance for murder" on Poynteronline.)

  • Jennifer||

    I just read that column, and ground about two decades' worth of enamel off my teeth. How can people like Mary Schmich support the concept of democracy at all?

    Seriously: if I think you're too stupid to be trusted with a decision like how long to run your own air conditioner, or whether you buy bottled water or bottled soda on a trip, how can I possibly think you can be entrusted to help make decisions like "Who should be Commander-in-Chief of the most powerful nuclear-armed military on earth?" If you need transfat bans because you're too damned stupid to even eat without harming yourself, why the hell should you be allowed to vote on matters that affect others?

  • ||

    I didn't have a nanny growing up, but I did have a father who thought that a family-at least one big enough, as ours was, to field a baseball team-should function with military discipline. This was perfect preparation for adult life in Chicago.

    Make beds before breakfast. Yes, sir.

    Attend mass daily. Yes, sir.

    Switch off lights when leaving rooms. Yes, sir.

    Never say "no" in response to a parental request. Yes, sir.

    Address your mother as "ma'am" and your father as "sir," and soak the pots and pans the minute the cooking's done.

    Infractions were swiftly punished.


    That explains sooooo much. The rest of the column makes sense after reading that.

    The big question is; Schmich family or the Cubs, who has a better chance of winning the World Series?




    With apologies to Cubs fans. Can't sympathize with you anymore since the Sox won in 2004.

  • ||

    "What will be the distracting factor that keeps them out of the World Series?"

    You forgot possibility F: the St. Louis Cardinals! Go Birds!! Woohoo!!!

  • Leah||

    With apologies to Cubs fans. Can't sympathize with you anymore since the Sox won in 2004.

    This makes no sense. It's like saying you don't sympathize with libertarians never winning the presidency because the Republicans won in 2004.

  • ||

    Jennifer-I works like this: when the mob (read: majority) decides to do something, it must be because of collective wisdom. You see, the collective, as represented by the government, is always right, and always within its rights to do whatever it wants. Recognition of this is what makes one a mature adult.

  • ||

    Damnit- the last post should have read, "It works...", and "it must be right because of collective wisdom"

    And yes, I was being sarcastic.

  • ||

    So, are we going to see the Cubs in a pennant race or not this year?

    What will be the distracting factor that keeps them out of the World Series?

    A. Mangie dog on the field.

    B. Drunken Joe 'Pep' forgetting that he is supposed to stay in NYC.

    C. Image of a former announcer appearing in the ivy.

    D. Image of a deceased, original Second City cast member, appearing in ivy.

    E. Sloppy teamwork.



    Tradition.

  • Fluffy||

    But where some people see paternalism, we weirdos believe that most of Chicago's rules help turn unruly city dwellers into civilized citizens. Big cities are like big families-put a lot of people into a small space and somebody has to be charged with the power to say "Stop it."

    What, exactly, does this have to do with her "bans"?

    Like most nanny state bitches, she advances a justification - the coordination of a large number of people in a small space - that has nothing to do with the things she wants banned.

    How does banning trans fat help a large number of people get along in a small space?

    How does having high cigarette and alcohol taxes help a large number of people get along in a small space?

    How does stopping people from eating foie gras help a large number of people get along in a small space?

    How does preventing people from using their air conditioners help a large number of people get along in a small space? [This one would actually do the opposite.]

    How does requiring people to take just one paper napkin instead of many help the ability of a large number of people to get along in a small space?

    If honking at people hurts the ability of a large number of people to get along in a small space, wouldn't "hypermiling" also hurt the ability of a large number of people to get along in a small space? Shouldn't we ban that too?

  • ||

    Fluffy,

    The line of reasoning is as follows...If you force people to obey a strict moral code, that will train them to behave civilly in areas where the appropriate action isn't strictly defined.

    I'm not sure what's worse, that the bitch wrote it, or that the paper printed it.

  • ||

    What I find amusing is that she cites a list of proposed new laws to deal with her personal pet peaves. Half of these are things which already have legal remedies (nuisance, disturbance of the peace or negligence). Of course, getting an injunction for nuisance involves dragging yourself to the courthouse. She wants her daddy to do it for her.

    She doesn't seem to understand that the purpose of her parent's rules was to prepare her to be an adult. If she still needs her daddy that badly, she should move back home or check herself into a loony bin where they will make sure she never has to deal with any sharp edges.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    "Mary Schmich's writing sure has gone downhill since Slaughterhouse-5."

    Man, you and me are the only ones who remember that one!

    There's stupidity all over this column, but Schmich's A-OK!

  • MattXIV||

    Fluffy,

    I believe she's basing it on a scaling up of the difficulties of shoving a bunch of fat people with lit cigarettes into a single elevator car.

  • ||

    "Tradition."

    Ooh, goin' all Fiddler on the Roof on their ass!

  • Russ 2000||

    Hope you survive the job cuts, Tim.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Did anyone read the comments from the tribune page from Misplaced Texan? I teared up a little from reading his comments . . .

  • ||

    Jeffrey Dahmer's hometown is Bath Township, Ohio, not Milwaukee. He was also convicted here in Ohio before being transferred to stand trial in Wisconsin.

  • highnumber||

    just wondering if paradise made it south, past Cicero Ave

    I was walking north on Chicago Ave heading up to the Northeast side the other day thinking about that very thing.

  • highnumber||

    With apologies to Cubs fans. Can't sympathize with you anymore since the Sox won in 2004.

    Sox won in 2005.

  • ||

    I just read Schmich's article. I think my brain just exploded.

  • Leah||

    highnumber - I was going to say something similar but you were much more clever. Maybe he meant Cermak? Ah well.

    Oh, and I think he meant the Red Sox won in 2004. Just goes to show that fans of all Sox-related teams are obnoxious...

  • Ben||

    Why does Reason have a hard on about the right to torture animals for fun? Jesus christ what is wrong with you people and your precious right to inflict misery on poor defenseless animals so they are a bit tastier? Do you support torturing dogs before killing eating them so they are tastier?

    Frankly if you hold foie gras to be an inalienable right then you are a depraved, selfish bastard.

  • Depraved, selfish bastard||

    Whatever dude. NOM NOM NOM

  • highnumber||

    Do you support torturing dogs before killing eating them so they are tastier?

    Does that really work?

  • Guy Montag||

    Leah,

    I was going to say something similar but you were much more clever. Maybe he meant Cermak? Ah well.

    ACK! I probably did mean Cermak*, which goes to Cicero from Chicago. Back in my day I believe that was the dividing line between North Side and South Side.

    At least, that's what we thought down in Matteson and Park Forest.

    *Named for the actual "Vote early, vote often" Mayor.

  • ||

    Big cities are like big families

    Only if the paterfamilias beats anyone who doesn't fall in line.

  • Russ 2000||

    At least, that's what we thought down in Matteson and Park Forest.

    I can't for the life of me figure out why you would move away from such garden spots.

  • ||

    As a Chicagoan I'd like to tell Mary Schmuck to go to hell.

    Regards,
    TDL

  • Stan Marsh||

    Maybe if we changed the name of foie gras to "tortured force-fed chickens" people wouldn't eat it.

  • Robert||

    I'll tell ya why not subscribe: Because it never gets delivered! No problem for 20+ years, then slowly it got so fewer issues get here than get lost.

  • ||

    Schmich looks like one of those creepy Teutonic women from the ballroom scene in The Boys From Brazil.

    So, let me put on my best Gregory Peck, and say, "Shut up you ugly bitch"...

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