Reality and Sanity

June 9, 2007

Brickbat Roundup

A few selected stories from Reason’s Brickbats, with my commentary and analysis:

Police in West Midlands, England, say they received numerous complaints about anti-social behavior in one neighborhood. The behavior in question: children playing hopscotch on the sidewalk.

Oh, come on.

Legislation expected to pass in Scotland would require shops selling swords, machetes, and other nondomestic knives to have a special license and to record all sales. The sale of swords—except to museums, historical re-enactors, fencers, and the like—will be banned.

Are they going to ban fabrication also? Swords and machetes, utilizing modern techniques, are not hard to make.

Police in Preston, England, are asking local officials to ban “vertical drinking” in bars. Drinking while standing, they say, contributes to violence and other anti-social behavior.

So sitting down makes all the difference. Apparently these people have never seen any of numerous movies where overturned bar chairs are a prelude to violence and other anti-social behavior.

The Board of Commissioners in Gwinnett County, Georgia, has banned mobile taco stands. Commissioners say the move is aimed at boosting business in shopping centers. “I’m all for capitalism,” Commissioner Bert Nasuti explained. “But there’s a right way and a wrong way.”

And the right way is lining the pockets of your biggest taxpayers. I wouldn’t be surprised to discover that some board members have a vested interest in the shopping malls as member business owners or as mall owners.

If you can’t beat ’em, outlaw them.

In Great Britain, government officials say hospitals are too efficient. At least six of the nation’s health trusts have forced hospitals to create minimum waiting times for patients to receive treatment. Officials say the hospitals have “gotten ahead” of what the National Health Service can afford.

And that, my friends, is why we don’t need HillaryCare.

“My husband’s appendix is about to explode!”

“Sorry. We have a mandatory three-day waiting period for new patients. Come back on Monday.”

Three NYPD officers have pleaded not guilty to breaking into a Brooklyn massage parlor, ripping out a surveillance camera, and stealing a videotape. They apparently were trying to destroy evidence that a previous prostitution bust at the massage parlor was based on lies by one of the officers. But a backup security system caught their break-in, and part of the massage parlor’s security system was reportedly found in the desk of Lt. Stephen Wong. Wong is the vice integrity control officer for the unit, responsible for keeping officers honest.

I smell a new Law and Order episode.

Security guards at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Air Academy High School handcuffed and detained three cheerleaders before a football game. Guards had allegedly spotted the three putting paper over the first five letters of a sign reading “Douglassville Valley Elementary School.” The girls were released to their parents; no charges were filed.

Heh-heh-heh. To be 17 again…

Four eighth-grade girls in Marion, Indiana, were suspended from school for five days. They say it’s because they all wore matching outfits one day, and school officials thought that if they were dressed alike they must be in a gang. Principal Michael Shaffer told local media the girls were suspended for violating school rules, but he refused to say what rules they broke.

No profiling gong on here.

Margaret Lieder meant to dial 411 for information. She accidentally dialed 911, but she promptly hung up when she realized she’d made a mistake. A dispatcher called her back to say that police were on the way. When the North Vancouver, Canada, officers got there, Lieder tried to explain the mistake. Despite not having a warrant, they insisted on searching the house. Lieder refused, but the officers refused to take no for an answer; five officers broke down the door and arrested Lieder and her partner, Larry Pierce, for obstruction of justice. Pierce says that officers threw him to the floor, twisting his arm behind his back, and that one jumped on him and put a knee into his ribs, breaking two of them.

All this would probably have been avoided if Lieder had simply explained to the dispatcher her mistake before hanging up the first time. Cops have no idea who’s who or what’s what, so if someone dials and hangs up, that could be someone trying to dial for help that an assailant to working to prevent.

That said, the cops did overreact a tad. No warrant? Obstruction of justice arrests?

Early one morning in Newport, England, a speed camera snapped a photo of Tom Matthews’ 12-year-old cab. He later received a notice informing him he’d exceeded the 30-mile-per-hour speed limit—by about 390 miles per hour. “I drive an old Cavalier—not a jumbo jet,” Matthews told the London Sun. “According to this, I’ve broken the land speed record.”

I didn’t realize the Salt Flats were located in Newport, England.

The coaches of many women’s basketball teams believe that practicing against men makes women better competitors. But the NCAA Committee on Women’s Athletics says such practices violate the spirit of Title IX, the federal law that mandates equality for school athletics. The committee recommends that the NCAA ban all male practice players from women’s sports.

Title IX is was an idea that is good on paper, but proven disastrous in reality. Throw in the gaggle of fools that is the NCAA, and you get idiot rulings like this one.

One more story, submitted without comment because the jokes write themselves:

British police have almost 3 million DNA profiles on file, covering about 6 percent of the U.K.’s population. But that’s not enough for Dave Johnston, head of the Metropolitan Police’s Homicide and Serious Crimes unit. He wants samples taken from all babies. “We have 300,000 unsolved cases where we have taken a profile at a crime scene but have not yet matched it,” he said. Johnston did not say how many babies he suspects may have committed those crimes.


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