Nanny State

Great Moments in Law and Order

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Woman faces fine, 90 days in jail for swearing at her own toilet.

Meanwhile, 6-year-old Natalie Shea faces a $300 fine for drawing a flower on her home's front stoop in water-soluble sidewalk chalk. A neighbor called 311 to complain, and the drawing apparently ran afoul of anti-graffiti ordinances, even on one's own property.

The Sanitation Department bureau-bot said the fine is standard operating procedure: "If people call and complain, we have to follow it up; we have to respond."

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  1. I’d have to say, I’m not totally surprised that she clogged up that toilet.

    *ducks*

  2. “Upon further review, many types of these incidents are not as cut and dry as they originally appear,” he said. “Freedom of speech is not an unfettered right.”

    Sigh…

  3. of course if you call 311 to find out what fucking lot they towed your car to, you’re SOL. But giving little girls fines? They’re all over that.

  4. Efforts to reach the patrolmen were unsuccessful Monday and Tuesday. Scranton Director of Public Safety Ray Hayes said he stands by the officer’s decision.

    “Upon further review, many types of these incidents are not as cut and dry as they originally appear,” he said. “Freedom of speech is not an unfettered right.”

    Right, the 1st Amendment says un-abridged, not un-fettered. Fettering is not abridging, obviously.

    Also, why is Public Safety always the one all up on everybody’s shit, so to speak?

  5. “I’m a good New Yorker. I like to obey the rules,” she said. “If it’s really illegal for Natalie to use chalk on her own stoop, if that’s really upsetting to Mayor [Bloomberg], I will comply.”

    I, too, love doing whatever petty bureaucrats tell me to do.

  6. I await the nanny-police state with open arms. How will I ever be able to live without someone to look over my shoulder and protect me?

    Please tell me what to eat; tell me what I can say; tell me where I can work; tell me who I can associate with; I am incapable of figuring this kind of stuff out.

  7. Jesus H Kryste an a happy little tree. If it’s your property, then it’s not graffiti! What. The. Fuck? Society is going to hell in a handbasket. Yeah, I am soooo geezerfied. Somebody buy me a drink.

  8. “I’m a good New Yorker. I like to obey the rules,” she said. “If it’s really illegal for Natalie to use chalk on her own stoop, if that’s really upsetting to Mayor [Bloomberg], I will comply.”

    As a former Manahattanite, I must say that New Yorkers are absolutely not the famed individualists and unique characters who move to NYC to escape the conformity of their small towns that they think they are. NYC has a major groupthink vibe and is one of the reasons I left. They submitted to all of Mayor Mike’s nanny statism and will submit to any more that comes. They submitted to Guiliani’s crackdown on idiotic crimes like jaywalking and his other actions.

    New Yorkers like to think of themselves as these crazy awesome super-sophisticated rebels, but it’s bullshit.

    This is of course an over-generalization, but this applies to a lot of people there.

  9. A mother of four, she was cited for disorderly conduct after a neighbor, who is a Scranton police officer, overheard her swearing at her backed-up toilet near the open window.

    “Freedom of speech is not an unfettered right.”

    Especially not in the vicinity of your masters!

  10. Isn’t the whole point of graffiti law (as it was intended) to prevent one’s property from being vandalized?

    Are we not allowed to damage our own stuff anymore? Do I have to call Bloomberg every time I want to pop Bubble Wrap?!?

    Fucking statists!

  11. Why has no commenter yet remarked about whoever complained? The Sanitation Dept. just sent a form letter, they weren’t even going to fine her pending the matter’s being cleared up, but some jerk actually put in a complaint. (One of the stories made clear that if you send them a letter saying that what appears to be graffiti on your property is there with your permission, that’s the end of the matter.) You’d think someone involved in the story would’ve gone into that, because clearly this person has an enemy, and that is the real story of which this is obviously just the tip of the iceberg. Someone was just waiting to get something on that neighbor, possibly in revenge for something else, and saw “graffiti” as an opp’ty. I’d like to know what started it.

    I also have a feeling the Daily News deleted an expletive in the place of “[Bloomberg]”. Obviously the guy was being sarcastic.

  12. Second hand cursing?

    I guess the neighbor was upwind, otherwise, she’d have double the fine, and double the prison time?

    Taxtix: naughty!!!!! And to think that the feared, dreaded, beloved, admired URKOBOLD had your band as a feature. 🙂

  13. “Freedom of speech is not an unfettered right.”

    Well no, it’s not, but the government does need a compelling interest to infringe on it. What would that be here? The toilet’s feelings?

  14. Isn’t there a small and cramped island that we can send all these busy-body ninnies to? That way, they can just rat each other out until their heart’s content.

    And no, not Manhattan.

  15. “A property owner typically has 45 days to clean the markings or send a letter to the Sanitation Department saying they have no problem with the markings on their property”

    While the burden shouldn’t be on the property owner, it seems like many people are under the misconception that it is illegal to have chalk drawings on your own property. It is legal, but you’ll have to write a letter to the city telling them that it’s OK. It’s a crazy bureaucracy, but chalk drawings on your own property aren’t illegal.

  16. Great Moments in Law and Order

    I thought this was going to be about Fred Thompson.

  17. “I’m a good New Yorker. I like to obey the rules,” she said. “If it’s really illegal for Natalie to use chalk on her own stoop, if that’s really upsetting to Mayor [Bloomberg], I will comply.”

    I would really like to think tha Ms Pepperman is being sarcastic here. Really I would.

    Alas, I fear that I would likely be wrong. (siiiigh!)

  18. Pepperman acknowledges that the flower drawing “wasn’t Nattie’s best work” and promised to wipe down any future scrawlings more promptly.

    That’s like something from The Onion. It had to be sarcasm.

    Anyway, it can’t be art if it isn’t Jesus Christ done in chocolate or submerged in urine, so it must be graffiti.

  19. ah yes, great minds etcetera..

  20. What ever happened to knocking on a neighbor’s door and informing them of the law? I wouldn’t guess that she’d be threatened by the 6 year old who chose to draw a flower instead of some gang-related term in response to her information. She has to call somebody else to come all the way down to issue a $300 ticket to a 6 year old? How about a polite warning?

    Protect and serve… Apparently knowledge is not something that people like to serve. They’d rather serve a ticket.

  21. VM,

    Holy crap! Thank you, great URKOBOLD, I shall never cross thee again.

    I only pray that you spare my taint with your forgiveness.

    P.S. Tour Dates, new videos, etc. are updated on our MySpace page.

    P.S.S. Sorry Reason staffers and all about the shameless plugging, but hey, at least I’m not Trollin’

  22. The Scranton story is much scarier, getting hassled by police needs to be publicized. The New York one is just one asshole reacting to another asshole reacting to another asshole. You got a silly letter from the sanitation department? Ignore it and the problem goes away, no need to make a big deal out of it.

  23. NYC has a major groupthink vibe and is one of the reasons I left.

    Ironic, given the conformity of thought found on this blog.

  24. OK regarding the backed-up toilet lady – it’s obvious that the cop next door is a boor, and filed the complaint maliciously to get back at her after she argued with him. He should be reprimanded and the case dropped.

    Second, the chalk-drawing girl. If the family lives in a brownstone that is divided into apartments, then the steps are not exactly her property. So, there is the issue of consideration to the neighbors. However. the joyless soul who ratted the girl out needs to take a good long look at the emptiness of his or her life, that a child’s chalk drawings are such an offence to the sensibilities.

    Take a look at the quote about “Mayor [Bloomberg].” I wonder what name the parent called him?

  25. A friend of mine used to have a running debate with another friend about whether cursing in public (I know this lady did this in her home but she obviously did it loud enough for her neighbor to hear) should be illegal. On the one had, it is just words, but on the other you may not want your kid to hear such things…We really have no idea if this lady was screaming and how regular (no pun intended) she was at this.

  26. Hay Taktix!

    just keep us at URKOBOLD informed of dates, etc. For the others – check out their music. It’s cool stuff! Between Fyodor and Taktix, we have some great libertarian talent!

    Denver area – littlefyodor
    Ft.Lauderdale area – Tripping June

    re: sidewalk chalk:

    in the old hood it was always fun, when walking home from the train/EL, doing one of the hopscotch games 🙂 And there were announcements who had lemonade – so the sidewalk chalk contributed greatly!

    Plus all of the kids playing, the families hanging out, etc. really gave a great feel to that neighborhood! And the toilets work there!

  27. “Freedom of speech is not an unfettered right.”

    You can’t yell ‘Fire’ in a crowded toilet.

  28. “Great Moments in Law and Order

    I thought this was going to be about Fred Thompson.”

    thoreau — Have you seen the show? There would be no mistaking…

  29. “If the family lives in a brownstone that is divided into apartments, then the steps are not exactly her property.”

    She has a greater interest in that property than the neighbor who lives in a different building, but probably not a sufficient interest to write the letter to the city permitting the chalk drawings.

  30. lol im gay

  31. “Take a look at the quote about “Mayor [Bloomberg].” I wonder what name the parent called him?”

    Giuliani?

  32. Ironic, given the conformity of thought found on this blog.

    I disagree…

  33. If little Natalie is a grafitti artist, then this guy is the Osama of grafittiterror.

    http://users.skynet.be/J.Beever/pave.htm

  34. I feel that ruls are rules. No matter how small, if you do something wrong, you should go to jail.

    Today, this little girl will be graffiting flowers, tomorrow it will be swastikas

  35. The toilet’s feelings?

    Did you see that hideous blue and yellow butterfly cover said toilet was forced to wear? Between the cover, the swearing and all the shit poor towlie is subjected to each week I feel some penalty is in order. Me, I treat my toilets like princesses and make sure to dump in all three at least once a month. I don’t want anyone to get their feelings hurt.

  36. Now, had she been busted making love to her toilet, then we might be on to something.

    However, with sex with furniture cases, it’s difficult to establish whether the furniture actually consented….

    Oh hay, juanita. love the moo moo.

  37. “You can’t yell ‘Fire’ in a crowded toilet.”

    Or “Blow me.”

  38. Ironic, given the conformity of thought found on this blog.

    Hmm… the classic criticism of libertarians is that they can’t agree on anything, and yet apparently everybody on this site agrees with everything. I guess if a dissenting comment doesn’t involve Dan T., he just skips over it.

  39. I guess if a dissenting comment doesn’t involve Dan T., he just skips over it.

    Ditto regarding comments containing things like “facts” and “evidence.”

  40. Hmm… the classic criticism of libertarians is that they can’t agree on anything, and yet apparently everybody on this site agrees with everything. I guess if a dissenting comment doesn’t involve Dan T., he just skips over it.

    Come on – this thread is a classic example. Nick or Radley or somebody finds an amazingly trival example of a government hiccup (person sent form letter about graffiti that turns out to be her kids’ chalk doodle) and we end up with 30 hysterical pronoucements about the “nanny state” and how we’ll all soon be living in an Orwellian nightmare.

    Tomorrow, more of the same. Maybe somebody will get an unjustified parking ticket or something?

  41. I’m adding Scranton Pennsylvania Patrolman Patrick Gilman of the 900 block of Luzerne St to my black list for when the revolution comes. Nosiness has severe penalties under the new rule of law. We go ex post facto as well. He won’t get a job in a homeless shelter after we are done.

  42. The toilet-cursing woman ran afoul of the “I’m a cop, so if you piss me off I’ll have you charged with something” rule.

    Whoever complained about a little girl drawing doodles on the sidewalk in WATER SOLUBLE CHALK is an obnoxious busybody.

  43. NYC’s 311 line has become a 911 for crybabies.

  44. Tomorrow, more of the same. Maybe somebody will get an unjustified parking ticket or something?

    Do they give tickets to people who don’t know what “ironic” means yet?

  45. What the grafitti law really indicates is the high cost of enforcing trivial laws. The city doesn’t send out people to check on these things unless somebody, presumably a neighbor, complains. Thus, there’s no way the city can consistently and fairly enforce the rule. Plus, they always have to consider the person who complained, if they really wanted to be unbiased. Selective enforcement of a law because they can’t afford to consistently enforce it is an indication that they’re overreaching–the law either shouldn’t exist, should be modified so that it is enforceable, or devolved to a lower, localized authority to enforce.
    The points about the “nanny state” are correct, but for the wrong reasons in this case.

  46. Godwin Alert!

    I’m a good New Yorker German. I like to obey the rules

  47. The Scranton story is much scarier, getting hassled by police needs to be publicized.

    Russ 2000, It isn’t just the police. This crap can come from any of our government officials masters. Happy ending here though.

  48. Dan T. Was my 3:53 PM post a “trival example of a government hiccup”? Nanny laws lead to this crap, and I suspect you know it.

  49. Meanwhile, 6-year-old Natalie Shea faces a $300 fine for drawing a flower on her home’s front stoop in water-soluble sidewalk chalk.

    Technically, they fined her mom. But maybe that was only because the girl doesn’t yet have an allowance they could garnish.

  50. Make that 3:57 PM. Damned dyslexia!

  51. Technically, they fined her mom. But maybe that was only because the girl doesn’t yet have an allowance they could garnish.

    Even more technically, they warned her mom that she could be fined if she didn’t clean up the “graffiti” within 45 days.

  52. Did anyone else watch the outatkes for Super Troopers where Farva was slagging on the toilet after he barfed into it?

    Along the lines of:

    “You’re good enough for my piss but not my puke?”

    It was an impressive bit of improv.

  53. What ever happened to knocking on a neighbor’s door and informing them of the law? I wouldn’t guess that she’d be threatened by the 6 year old who chose to draw a flower instead of some gang-related term in response to her information. She has to call somebody else to come all the way down to issue a $300 ticket to a 6 year old? How about a polite warning?

    Agreed, and how about just ignoring the art, which is obviously harmless fun for the child.

  54. (what is “slagging”?)

    otherwise, that’s a great movie!

  55. slag?ging [ sl?gging ] (plural slag?gings)

    noun

    Definition:

    U.K. criticism: a series of insulting, mocking, or critical comments ( slang )
    – I took a right slagging over that haircut.

  56. hoake – ragging on the toilet. talking trash to the toilet.

    wow. I’ll have to revisit that film… 🙂

    twas a really fun one. How was Bierfest?

  57. You might notice that the Daily News article was rightly contemptuous of the whole chalk affair. No sign of New York submitting to group-think nanny-statism here; please reserve the boilerplate NY bashing for another thread.

    Besides, little girls are far easier target than the punks who create real graffiti that this law has done nothing to alleviate.

  58. Cursing her toilet? That was an old Lenny Bruce routine: “You dirty, Communist TOILET you! And the sink and the hamper…you should know better…”

  59. “Upon further review, many types of these incidents are not as cut and dry as they originally appear,” he said. “Freedom of speech is not an unfettered right.”

    Evidently cursing at your toilet is just as injurious to public safety as yelling fire in a crowded theater(to use the classic example). She must have taken one hell of a dump.

  60. Even more technically, they warned her mom that she could be fined if she didn’t clean up the “graffiti” within 45 days.

    Oh, sure, if you want to get all technical about it. 🙂

  61. Come on, great moments in law enforcement are found in Chicago, not Scranton. From today’s paper:

    “A federal jury late Tuesday held two Chicago police officers liable for the unreasonable search of a man who alleged that the officers sodomized him with a screwdriver during a search for drugs.”

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-screwdriver_alloct17,0,6801143.story

  62. I just want ot get something striaght.

    Let’s say I own a property. A vandal tags my property.

    Then, to add insult to injury, the city threatens to fine me for being the victim of a crime?

    Is that right?

  63. Take a look at the quote about “Mayor [Bloomberg].” I wonder what name the parent called him?

    fortunately, there were no scranton cops nearby.

  64. Then, to add insult to injury, the city threatens to fine me for being the victim of a crime?

    That’s exactly the way it happens in Dallas. If you don’t clean up the graffiti, you can be fined.

  65. Let’s say I own a property. A vandal tags my property.

    Then, to add insult to injury, the city threatens to fine me for being the victim of a crime?

    That actually happened to me last week. My back fence is right next to a major road. High school kids walk by it every day. I received a letter on October 11th stating that I had til the 15th to clean it up, or be fined $50 administrative fee, $25 a day til remedied, and in a second offense, $500 a day.

    The best part is that the city documented the issue on Sep 14th, and it took them almost a month to send a complaint form to me. And give me exactly 1 business day to fix it or be fined.

    Thank god the pressure washer worked.

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