Friday, October 29, 2010
The dumbest law I have ever seen
By Ray Hanania
The City of Belleville Illinois adopted a law two years ago to prevented anyone over the age of 12 from trick-or-treating, but it is starting to get a lot of attention these days.
It’s bad enough that some people think that Halloween is a celebration of evil and devil worship – a distortion of the true history of the children’s holiday and candy industry commercialization jackpot.
But to restrict anyone from going out in costume for Halloween is ridiculous and stupid.
The Belleville law fines anyone over the age of 12 who goes out to trick-or-treat with fines of $100 to $1,000. The city actually has assigned their police to monitor the Halloween to arrest the offenders. It’s similar to other laws in a few other communities that set age limits on fun.
The biggest complaints are that older kids and even young adults often stay out late past 10 pm or even 10:30knocking on doors to ask for candy. But most communities don’t burden their police departments and instead adopt time zones in which treat-or-treat revelry can take place, for example between 3 pm and 8 pm.
Putting a limit on the time, say 8 pm, seems more reasonable a response.
Are they concerned that criminals will be out dressed in costume to rob the homes? That’s a problem with any holiday and any circumstance. But it is a criminal problem in which police can be called to investigate. If someone wants to rob someone else, trick-or-treating is not going to make it easier or more difficult.
America is becoming a society that lives in fear. Fear of everything from terrorist threats to adults in children’s costumes.
We would rather put restrictions on ourselves and even violate the U.S. Constitution rather than use common sense and invest our resources in strengthening our police departments and justice systems to make prosecution of criminal acts more effective.
Instead, we prefer to feel good and pass laws that eliminate those potential fears. But it is impossible to wipe away every fear. Creating ridiculous laws only creates more and more fears.
Why not impose a curfew on everyone to keep them off the streets after 8 pm. That would stop prostitution, drug dealers and street gang members.
Why not ban anyone from loitering anywhere at any time? Why not bury our heads in the sand and hope all of the fears that are mongered by leaders who lack the talent to develop good solutions so we won’t see the scary things that exist in real life.
Life is sometimes tragic. Terrible things do happen. But so much good that would happen also gets wiped away when we live our lives cowering in fear and responding to those fears through ridiculous unnecessary laws is also wiped away and lost.
How about our society gets more involved in neighborliness? Why not stop the new cultural trait where we all bury ourselves in our own lives and barely say hello to our neighbors? Why not tear down the huge security fences we build around our homes and families and create security based on neighborhood networking where the protection of our children and our homes becomes a communitywide responsibility rather than the current attitude that it is none of my business?
But then, passing a stupid law is so much easier to achieve than adhering to common sense.
(Ray Hanania is a morning radio talk show host. He can be reached at www.RadioChicagoland.com.)