Where's the Michigan Militia When You Need It?


Back in 1996, I published a little rant in Liberty [pdf] about porch furniture. Here's the core of it:

Not my house, but it does have a certain rustic charm.

When I was a college student, I lived in a house with a sofa on its porch, and life was grand. People could gather there to talk, or smoke, or drink, or play music, or make out, or just watch pedestrians wander by. It was both an adjunct to the house—an extra room smokers or loud talkers could be sent to without feeling banished—and an opening to the outside world. Random passers-by could stop for a second, stay for an hour, and end up our newest friends. The couch was ripped-up, dirty, and comfy. And our landlord made us get rid of it.

He was a good landlord in every other respect. But after he took away our couch, our house's social life took a bit of a dive….

[C]ouchnapping our favorite furniture is a landlord's prerogative, I suppose. The house is his property, after all, and I don't remember demanding any special sofa rights in our lease. But the city council of Indiana, a small town in western Pennsylvania, has no such excuse. In December, the Indiana Borough Council banned residents from using furniture outside if it is "not specifically constructed for outdoor use." Offenders will be fined $50-$100 for a first offense, and up to $300 if they keep sinning. The law was specifically designed to get couches off porches. According to the Associated Press, "The idea came from Councilman John Morganti, who has campaigned to clean up things he regards as eyesores."

Well, that's America: one man's way of life is another man's eyesore. Except in this case, the latter is a powerful prig, and he doesn't mind forcing everyone else to conform to his sterile social vision. Don't be surprised if this latest affront to civil society catches on in other cities. There is something about a happy porch that drives a busybody mad.

Fourteen years later, the story has arrived at its sad punchline. In a dual attack on the social lives of students and the property rights of landlords, the town where I went to college—Ann Arbor, Michigan—has now banned porch couches. It's a city with no shortage of busybodies, but I never dreamed it would assault its own indigenous culture so ruthlessly. Next thing you know they'll start locking people up for smoking pot.

[Hat tip: Clark Stooksbury.]

NEXT: Pandering to Geezers

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  1. *nn *rb*r???

    Didn’t realize you were scum, Walker.

    1. To hell with THE piece of shit college in Columbus.

      1. Hey, we love RichRod!

      2. What have you got against An Ohio State University?

  2. Porch couches in Ann Arbor are a great, great thing.

    Plus if you ever had an emergency that required a bonfire, they can quickly be dragged into the street and go up in seconds.

  3. Someone, somewhere…

  4. an extra room smokers…could be sent to without feeling banished

    Your house had an indoor smoking ban?

      1. Aha. And you managed to work it out without the city telling you to? Astonishing!

    1. Your house had an indoor smoking ban?

      What college house didn’t?

  5. Of course they will attack it Jesse. They are suburban liberals. That is what they do. I would rather live in a compound in Appalachia with snake handlers than near those people.

    1. Sir, the contents of that jar of strychnine in your possession is 2% per part per gallon as allowed by the local ordinance. I’m going to have to ask you to git on the phone with the hazmat people and have that taken care of.

      Sad thing about modern society is that those same suburban liberals have no idea how to handle anything more difficult than the simplest of packaged consumer goods. Just ask one to build a device for distillation, you know, high tech of the fifteenth century alchemist era, and they will look at you like you are mad.

  6. I’ll give you my porch couch when you take it from under my cold, dead ass!

  7. “Porch monkeys in Ann Arbor under attack.”

    1. It’s OK, I’m taking it back.

  8. I see a lucrative market for outdoor sofas. That, or busybody asskickers.

    1. That, or busybody asskickers.

      What sort of bulk pricing is available on those?

  9. In my city you can not put any upholstered furniture on your porch. They claim it is a fire hazard.

    1. Because wicker is flame retardant?

      1. Just as fire resistant as a bunch of fir 2x4s or pine boards screwed together.

    2. It’s less of a fire hazard indoors? Are they even trying?

  10. There is a city ordinance here banning porch furniture as well. Students have a habit of using it to start bonfires after big football and basketball victories. After one basketball game, a girl’s car was rolled into a fire, and now we aren’t allowed to park on that particular street during big games.

    1. I hope no one was surprised by the ordinance, or the parking ban. Act like an asshole, expect to be treated like an asshole.

      1. Well, the people who didn’t act like assholes might have been surprised.

    2. Seems to me you could just punish the arsonists.

      1. There should be a law or something.

      2. They did that, too. People were recording everything that happened on their cellphones. It was pretty easy to identify the culprits. But what fun would being in government be if you couldn’t indiscriminately punish the proles because of the actions of a few dumbasses?

      3. Seems to me you could just punish the arsonists.

        Oh, please. That personal responsibility thing is so last century. Collective punishment is much more efficient, eh, comrade?

  11. On the other hand, Ann Arbor is such a depressingly ugly town that any aesthetic improvements should be welcomed.

    And I hate to break it to you, but A2 has no more “indigenous culture”, at least as of 5 years ago. It’s become just another expensive edge suburb full of warmed-over hippies and pretentious students.

    1. Actually it was that way in the late 90’s too. And the people who voted this all probably smoked all bowl or two on pourch couches back into 60’s

  12. “Oh, I can picture it now. The screen door rusting off it’s filthy hinges, mangy dogs staggering about, looking vainly for a place to die.”

  13. I never dreamed it would assault its own indigenous culture so ruthlessly

    You’re not really that naive, are you, Jesse?

  14. Whoa, you went to IUP, Jesse?

  15. If indoor furniture is an eyesore outdoors, why does it look good indoors? I don’t get it. Does outdoor furniture also look bad indoors? The latter I can understand, since lawn chairs are usually much cheaper & less comfortable than indoor furniture.

    1. Does outdoor furniture also look bad indoors?

      Good point. They should ban that too.

      1. Definitely. If you put that stuff indoors it could catch on fire.

      2. *runs outside carrying a lawnchair with laundry piled on it*

      3. She asked me to stay and she told me to sit anywhere;
        So I looked around and I noticed there wasn’t a chair.

  16. I sense a business opportunity – manufacturing “outdoor” sofas for sale to college kids.

    1. 1. Take couch from curb

      2. Upholster with a tarp

      3. Profit

  17. I sense a business opportunity – manufacturing “outdoor” sofas for sale to college kids.

  18. WTF? I had the idea only once.

    1. But it was just that good.

  19. Next thing you know they’ll start locking people up for smoking pot.

    No. The next thing is SWAT raids in the wee hours of the morning.

    1. SWAT raids for the recliner dealers.

  20. What will the Concerned Citizens do when the couches are replaced with certified outdoor park benches, and the dreaded porch culture menace continues unabated?

  21. Jesse, I see now the origins of your little riff on communists and couches you did on your radio show a couple of years ago.

    “first, they came for the communists, but I did not speak up for I was not a communist. Then they came for my couch, and I really should have said something, ’cause it was a nice couch…”

  22. Well, obviously it’s for their own good.

    Right, Tony? shrike? Max? Chad?

    1. Well, if the prigs in charge are progressives, it is obviously the correct path to the future. If they decide these neighborhoods are blighted, they can use eminent domain to take the property and give it to Walmart. Only stupid Republicans would disagree.

      1. Your property is not yours.

  23. Burlington, VT is a college town that has the same ban. A couple of my friends got hassled about the couch on their porch (about 100 feet from the road) until they got rid of it, although they never actually got fined.

  24. So many great comments…love the OSU bashing. But I’m surprised I’m the first to say: seems Jesse was kind of, um, edgy with the title of this post.

  25. This is, without a doubt, the clearest call for revolution I’ve ever heard. I love my porchcouch. I don’t see why porches don’t just come with them.

  26. That couch in the photo really is not in that bad of shape.

  27. Ugh, a fellow IUP alumnus. I had no idea Indiana cleaned up the porches. That place really went downhill after I left.

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