Nanny State

Where Fun Goes to Die: Town Retains Ban on Kids Playing Ball in the Street

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The Consumerist / Flickr

North Attleboro, Massachusetts, sounds like a really great place to live—if sitting motionless indoors is your thing. Town representatives decided to keep a strict ban on playing ball in the street because doing otherwise would send the message that town condones a "dangerous" practice.

Libertarians will not be moving there en masse. From The Sun Chronicle:

Representative Town Meeting members rejected a proposal from Selectman Patrick Reynolds that would have eliminated the town's ban on playing ball in the street.

Reynolds brought the matter forward after hearing from friends who said they had a game broken up by police after a neighbor complained.

Police Chief John Reilly was opposed to the regulation change, saying it would give the impression that North Attleboro is OK with the dangerous practice of allowing children to play the street.

He also said in a public hearing about the proposal that police use their discretion when applying the regulation. Just as they don't pull over drivers who are going 1 mph over the speed limit, games are broken up only if a safety issue arises or a neighbor complains.

Yeah, sure. How gullible do you have to be to believe a police chief who says "keep it illegal, we won't actually arrest anybody for it though…"?

It seems the busybodies on the North Attleboro council have bought into fears shared by an unfortunately large number of Americans: that kids playing outdoors are incessantly in danger of being abducted by rapists, or run over by cars, or gunned down in the street. What they don't understand is that kids are safer today than they have ever been. Accidents happen, but legislating against absurdly unlikely worst-case scenarios doesn't help anyone—it just makes it harder to be a fun-loving kid.

For more on the subject, Reason's Lenore Skenazy chronicles instance after instance of misplaced concern over harmless fun. Watch an interview with her below.

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  1. He also said in a public hearing about the proposal that police use their discretion when applying the regulation.

    And from deep blue Massachusetts we get a no kidding “dog whistle”. You know what “discretion” in white suburban Boston means? It means we will only harass the brown people for doing this.

  2. Massachusetts Constitution:

    “Article XXX. In the government of this commonwealth, the legislative department shall never exercise the executive and judicial powers, or either of them: the executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them: the judicial shall never exercise the legislative and executive powers, or either of them: to the end it may be a government of laws and not of men.”

    https://malegislature.gov/laws/constitution

    North Attleboro constitution: In the government of this town, the executive department shall exercise the legislative power of amendment and carving out exceptions to the laws.

    1. Heh heh, Article triple-X

    2. Yep, it’s always bothered me greatly that people don’t see a problem in having gazillions of laws on the books and then giving “discretion” to police, regulators, etc. in enforcing them.

      Obviously it’s ripe for corruption and abuse. It is obvious, right?

      1. “Did you really think we want those laws observed?” said Dr. Ferris. “We want them to be broken. You’d better get it straight that it’s not a bunch of boy scouts you’re up against… We’re after power and we mean it… There’s no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren’t enough criminals one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What’s there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced or objectively interpreted ? and you create a nation of law-breakers ? and then you cash in on guilt. Now that’s the system, Mr. Reardon, that’s the game, and once you understand it, you’ll be much easier to deal with.”

  3. I don’t know what North Attleboro looks like but if – like the majority of Americans – I lived in a suburb with streets designed for 50MPH traffic, I wouldn’t let my kids play in them either.

    1. Context does matter a bit. In a residential area or residential subdivision it shouldn’t be a problem to play in the streets.

      In other areas, maybe not so much.

      The parents should be the ones to figure that out. But as usually is the case these days, ZERO TOLERANCE is adopted so the politicians can cover their own asses.

      1. In most (newer) suburbs I have visited, even the residential streets are designed to highway specs. A lot of them don’t even have sidewalks. I imagine those kids are playing in yards, though. Or “play centers”….

        1. “In most (newer) suburbs I have visited, even the residential streets are designed to highway specs.”

          This is the exact opposite of what I see daily.

        2. They’re designed with wide streets so that emergency vehicles will have an easier time moving over them. It never seems to occur to the planners that having streets that wide increases the need for those emergency vehicles, as it invites motorists to drive at high speeds, making it more likely that they will crash into other cars or run down pedestrians.

          1. The fact that the streets are posted for 25 mph doesn’t make much difference when the roads are so wide that 50 mph feels comfortable.

    2. What suburb has streets designed for 50 mph traffic?

      1. Almost every suburb built after 1960 or so consists mostly of very wide roads with easy curves.

        1. ….No. That’s not the same thing as being designed for highway speeds.

        2. size does not equal speed.

          1. I guess you can put up signs with a lower speed limit but I have visited enough of these streets to see how people drive on them.

            1. So you’re taking back your claim then? Because every single new development I’ve seen, and I see a lot, is tending toward lower limits and more pedestrian friendly public areas.

              1. No, what I’m saying is that people speed despite any signs – as a direct result of the impression given by the way the roads are designed.

                1. Your’re correct about this; people can naturally perceive the safe speed of a road and will tend to drive it despite the signed limit. Also factor in that modern cars are much more capable vehicles than the ones roads from 50 plus years ago were designed for.

                  I think the argument you two are having is a result of calling all roads not in a city “suburban” instead of local/collector/arterial.

              2. I can’t say I’ve seen any *new* developments – I’m going on what I saw growing up in the 80s.

      2. I live off of two streets with 50 MPH limits that are undeniably suburban (lined with single family houses on half-acre lots).

  4. Well clearly we should just make everything illegal (just in case ya know, and anything can be dangerous) and let our beknighted and benevolent police use their discretion in keeping us all safe.

    Yeah, that’ll work out just fine.

    1. Why not just enact article 134 from the UCMJ? It is the “FYTW” article. It is invoked when some slob pisses off someone, but there isn’t actually a rule against what they did.

      Though not specifically mentioned in this chapter, all disorders and neglects to the prejudice of good order and discipline in the armed forces, all conduct of a nature to bring discredit upon the armed forces, and crimes and offenses not capital, of which persons subject to this chapter may be guilty, shall be taken cognizance of by a general, special, or summary court-martial, according to the nature and degree of the offense, and shall be punished at the discretion of that court.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_article

  5. Reynolds brought the matter forward after hearing from friends who said they had a game broken up by police after a neighbor complained.

    What’s the big fucking deal? This is how democracy works, people. A group of citizens asked for permission, and that permission was denied.

    That’s how stuff works in a free country. Don’t like it? Run for office.

    1. “What’s the big fucking deal? This is how democracy works, people. A group of citizens asked for permission, and that permission was denied.”

      That whole “asking permission” mindset shows you to be a sheep.

      I’ve noticed that when a law is passed that unfairly limits the pursuit of happiness for people, statists often defend it by saying “This is how democracy works”. As if it’s all about forcing other people to go to jail if they do things you don’t like – a cudgel to be wielded.

      The reason we have a damn constitution is because there are many aspects of life that no one should be able to limit a person on or restrict for someone else, majority votes or not. You realize the constitution limits the government, not the people, right?

      1. “This is how democracy works”

        Yep, and that’s precisely the problem. And yet it’s hailed as a wonderful thing; indeed the epitome of societal structuring. Ugh

    2. No, Paul; that is NOT how stuff works. You don’t have to “ask permission” in a free society in order to do things that do not infringe on another’s rights. Period. Exclamation point.

      1. Note to self….go grocery shopping, pick up dry cleaning, cancel kitten orgy, re-calibrate sarc meter…

      2. Paul was perhaps a bit too real in his parody, but “That’s how stuff works in a free country.” still should have given it away.

    3. Wow, you caught two people, and it doesn’t even look like you were trying.

    4. “Don’t like it? Run for office.”

      I hear this exact argument all the time…

      “School choice? Who needs it? Just spend years of your life and thousands of dollars trying to convince 50% +1 of your fellow citizens to let you control others in your preferred manner. Democracy!”

  6. I’m pretty sure this is how the eloi got started.

    1. And soon we shall feast on their veal-like meat.

  7. It seems the busybodies on the North Attleboro council have bought into fears shared by an unfortunately large number of Americans: that kids playing outdoors are incessantly in danger of being abducted by rapists, or run over by cars, or gunned down in the street. What they don’t understand is that kids are safer today than they have ever been.

    Because we don’t let them run wild in the street and ride in the backs of pickup trucks like my generation did.

    1. Yeah, I can’t even count the times I was killed while riding in the back of a pickup as a kid. It was an absolute shambles.

  8. Yeah, sure. How gullible do you have to be to believe a police chief who says “keep it illegal, we won’t actually arrest anybody for it though…”?

    They’ll only use it against criminal children.

  9. Well clearly we should just make everything illegal (just in case ya know, and anything can be dangerous) and let our beknighted and benevolent police use their discretion in keeping us all safe.

    We’re pretty much there.

    EVERYTHING NOT MANDATORY IS PROHIBITED

    1. Yes, unfortunately there’s not much left to make illegal. We are pretty much there already. And yet most don’t even get that. They think it’s great to give the authorities the discretion to rule our lives.

  10. Washington (AFP) – Large manufacturers are increasingly moving production back to the United States from China, according to a new report by The Boston Consulting Group released Thursday.

    In the third annual survey of US-based senior executives at manufacturing companies with annual sales of at least $1 billion, the number of respondents who said their companies were currently reshoring to the US from China increased 20 percent from a year ago.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/…..nance.html

    BUT OBAMACARE IS CRUSHING OUR ECONOMIC!!!! TOMMY SOWELL SAID SO!

    1. Yes. Manufacturing is moving back.

      But that does not mean jobs are coming back with them, because machines can do the job cheaper and better than foreign workers.

      Unskilled labor is never going to be able to demand a better wage than the operating cost of a machine to replace them. If Obamacare pushes up the cost of labor, fewer workers will be employed.

      1. Direct labor is so cheap here it is rarely tracked as a separate cost anymore. Most companies just lump it in with overhead.

        1. What accounting firm told you that, Arthur Andersen?

          And, if labor costs were not a factor, why in hell would any company offshore to China or India?

        2. No, Buttplug, they don’t. My law practice involves me looking over income statements from many different types of businesses. Labor costs are never lumped in with overhead. They are indeed accounted for separately.

          1. Oh, those are small companies. They don’t count.

        3. Re: Peter Caca,

          Direct labor is so cheap here it is rarely tracked as a separate cost anymore.

          I can’t see why you would think that since the government has not allowed the labor market to clear, through massive entitlement spending that keeps the disutility of labor high. How can you know that labor is “so cheap” as you say?

        4. Re: Peter Caca,

          Most companies just lump it in with overhead.

          Maybe those companies managed by people who don’t know the difference between variable and fixed costs, like lemonade stands.

    2. Re: Peter Caca,

      BUT OBAMACARE IS CRUSHING OUR ECONOMIC!

      I wouldn’t celebrate yet, Peter. The article gives a BIG clue why these companies are returning, almost as an afterthought:

      A strong majority of respondents — 72 percent — plan to invest in additional automation or advanced manufacturing technologies in the next five years, saying that would allow them to cut costs, boost competitiveness and allow them to benefit from being closer to suppliers and customers.

      These companies feel that they can afford to shorten their supply lines because they are investing in automation, not in manpower. That means Obamacare is not going to affect them that much.

      Obamacare is still a very big issue for companies that require labor and cannot outsource their production, for instance the service sector. There is indeed little economic analysis done by you before posting. You’re being no different than the usual troll.

    3. the number of respondents who said their companies were currently reshoring to the US from China increased 20 percent from a year ago.

      That’s nice.

      What’s the net movement of manufacturing activity? Into, or out of, the US?

    4. Large manufacturers are increasingly moving production back to the United States from China,
      You know, it just could be because of what’s happening in China.

  11. Where Fun Goes to Die

    –Motto, University of Chicago

  12. So, is it OK to play games no involving balls in the street? Is hockey OK?

      1. You pansies didn’t have dirt clod wars that escalated into rock fights?

        1. Given the neighborhood I grew up in, we didn’t go outside much.

          1. I seemed to grow up on the edge of boomtowns. There was always a convenient dirt/rock pile at some housing construction within an easy bike ride of both friends and enemies.

        2. We were more into stick wars than rock fights. And setting stuff on fire.

        3. On the farm “dirt clod wars” escalated in an entirely different direction.

        4. “You pansies didn’t have dirt clod wars that escalated into rock fights?”

          We had “Roman candle” fights!

          “Flaming projectile” beats “rock”…

  13. What’s the Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon movie where they go back to the 1950s and teach the squares how cool the coloreds can be? This is that place. It also reminded me that Reese Witherspoon should just do 50s and 60s period pieces for the rest of her career. Oh wait…

    1. Re: Brett L,

      What’s the Tobey Maguire, Reese Witherspoon movie where they go back to the 1950s and teach the squares how cool the coloreds can be?

      Pleasantville. And the premise of the movie was that the only joy worth receiving is from casual sexual encounters or masturbation, and not from going out to watch a movie, get a shake, ride a car to the lake or other stuff the white kids do.

      1. Its well known that impure thoughts cause you to miss free-throws! Also, I’m firmly in the colored camp of Buddy Holly, casual sex, and falling asleep outside in another man’s arms.

        1. Re: Brett L,

          I’m firmly in the colored camp of Buddy Holly, casual sex, and falling asleep outside in another man’s arms.

          Well… I’m not a big fan of falling asleep outside.

        2. “falling asleep outside in another man’s arms.”

          as opposed to falling asleep in your own arms?

    2. Pleasantville?

  14. why don’t they just ban childhood and be done with it.

    1. That’s tricky while simultaneously trying to extend childhood to age 26.

      1. Just extend the mandiatory prison time for children.

    2. They tried that in the Victorian age, but at least you could put the kids to work. But now…no fun or work.

  15. Whats the point of being a kid when you can’t run around the neighborhood acting like a reprobate.

    1. I hate to defend the petty tyrants running the town, but is that actually forbidden, or is it just playing in the street?

      1. Zeb when I was a kid we did some pretty stupid things, like throwing bottles at cop cars to get them to chase us, or egging people’s houses. We also did good things like shoveling snow off of old peoples walkways for free, and mowing lawns/stacking wood for a little bit of cash. I say just let kids be kids. =)

  16. Direct labor is so cheap here it is rarely tracked as a separate cost anymore. Most companies just lump it in with overhead.

    Even for you, that’s retarded.

  17. I grew up playing wiffle Ball in the street in Newport Rhode Island. What a horrible law this is but so typical of Nanny’s

    I wonder if the good people of North Attleboro have an initiative process?

  18. Speaking of Reese Witherspoon her recorded traffic stop was awesome. A classic example of you know who I am?!?! have your job et cetera which of course the good cop ignored and fid his job properly and she later apologised for.

    BOOYA body cameras and dash cams.

  19. My Condo doesn’t allow playing in the streets, although I think it’s mostly because of concerns about cars being damaged by errant balls.

    1. Are we talking about private streets(something a condo would have jurisdiction over?)

      1. Where I live, most of the tertiary streets are private.

  20. *Town representatives decided to keep a strict ban on playing ball in the street because doing otherwise would send the message that town condones a “dangerous” practice.*

    Truly this is the most important issue of our time. So glad that Reason.com is all over it.

    Do you people understand how petty and stupid you all sound, each and every single day with this nonsense? Who the hell wants to play in the damn street besides a bunch of stupid hooligans? Streets are for driving. Not walking, not biking, not big-wheeling, not stick-ball, not soccer–DRIVING.

    1. CheeseBurglar.

    2. I came here to be the lone curmudgeon and say the exact same thing. Streets are for cars, right? So…why does fun die if kids can’t play in the street; there is truly NOWHERE else to play in the entire neighborhood or community?

      Let me tell you, if I’m coming home from work, heck from anywhere, and I’m prevented from accessing my driveway, garage, and home by kids playing in the street with the full blessing of local government, I’m not too thrilled.

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