Sunday, June 12, 2011

When Barbeque Should Be A Crime | Libraries are not the place to BBQ
Grilling enthusiasts are descending in flash mob protests on the libraries of America. Why? A recent U.S. Court of Appeals ruling upholding the prohibition against barbequing inside of government libraries.

I know this is Summer, and a BBQ is awesome fun, but please: No open flames inside of our nation's atheneums. Visitors come to study, research and read quietly, not to see you slather up ribs. Barbeques are hard enough to witness with shirtless fat guys sweating over hot dogs at parties, and in many instances should be considered a federal offense in itself.

Why is this news? Well, on March 9, 2009, Joe Rogers and his kids wanted to have a cookout in the children's book section of Iowa City, Iowa's downtown library. Rogers arrived shortly before 11AM and began setting up the Weber while the kids read Dr Seuss books. Library police ejected them when they refused to leave the bibliotheca. Rogers sued, claiming his First Amendment rights had been violated and the officer should not have thrown a book at him.

Last month the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Iowa City district dismissed the case, deciding the government should not be forced to give citizens "the full range of free expression" in such solemn spaces. The court found no infringement of First Amendment rights or excessive use of force. Since then, outdoor cable channels and their celebrity grill masters have circled the hibachis in protest inside 127 libraries across the country, risking arrest.

The National Library System now feels compelled to issue press releases noting it "supports grilling", and that it has a "long and proud tradition of supporting" First Amendment rights. It even oddly recommends that "grilling in our parks is a great way" to support the First Amendment, whether at "a national park on the 4th of July with tens of thousands of people or with the neighbors at your inflatable swimming pool."

The country has thousands of acres of park space where it's OK to barbeque, just not in the reference section of a library. It also points out that by law the agency must be the first responders for your "enjoyment" on public lands it oversees. In other words, if someone is making your visit to a library  unenjoyable, we're obligated to get rid of them.

The NLS's final point is sort of an extension of the tragedy of the commons, an medical theory that says indoor grilling can generate lethal fumes: "Just as you may not appreciate someone using a cell phone in a movie theater or someone deep frying onion rings at a funeral, we believe it is not appropriate and possibly dangerous to be using an open flame inside of a book repository."

I'm sure President Lincoln, who reportedly was an avid reader and quite good with the wood, on the grill, would agree.

RENEGADE NEWS: This is a parody of news

 inspired by WSJ  OPINION  When Dance Should Be a Crime (JUNE 11, 2011)