Flow and Ebb of Freedom

Activist judges shrink our basic freedoms just a little bit more (and the Chronicle strikes a blow for nonsensical headline wordplay). And in a case from my adopted hometown no less:

There is no ‘pee’ in public

State appeals court rules act is illegal

“It’s a crime in California to urinate in a public place, a state appeals court ruled today.

“The case before the court came from Berkeley, where a police officer detained a man urinating in the parking lot of a closed restaurant one Sunday morning in January 2003. …

“…To deal with the question, a Court of Appeal panel in San Francisco turned to a 19th century state law that defines a public nuisance as an act that is ‘injurious to health, or is indecent, or offensive to the senses.’ …

“…The criteria spelled out in the nuisance law might not always apply to urinating in the great outdoors, the judges added. For example, ‘a hiker responding to an irrepressible call of nature in an isolated area in the backwoods cannot reasonably be seen as interfering with any right common to the public.”

Apropos of the subject of public decency in Berkeley, or lack of same, I got a slice of (very healthy vegetarian) pizza yesterday and sat down to watch ESPN’s early coverage of the Barry Bonds crisis. I was the only one in the restaurant, but a few minutes later a guy walked past me toward the bathroom. I ignored him at first, but something made me look over. He was — maybe you should take the kids out of the room now — digging very assiduously in his ass. I mean really going at it. He saw me glance over, looked me in the eye, pulled out the napkin he’d been wiping his crack with, threw it on the floor and walked out. All I could think was, “What was that?” I finished my pizza, though, then got out of there before the next freedom-loving Berkeleyite appeared.

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2 Replies to “Flow and Ebb of Freedom”

  1. Just finished the first of two stages in the process to get Sakura’s green card. After my own negative Japanese experience tonight, thanks for reminding me of one of, if not the biggest reason I left in the first place. America, land of the free…to be foul and just plain naaaaaaasty.

  2. Yeah, that was nasty. The guy sort of looked at me like he was daring me to say something. I didn’t.
    What was your negative Japanese experience? Speaking of public urination, that seemed to be quite common when I was in Nagoya.
    And then there’s New York. I’ll never forget the story my friend Dan Shepley told about arriving someplace in midtown — the Port Authority bus terminal, I think — and waiting at a corner to cross the street. A woman in front of him stepped off the curb, squatted down in the street, and took a leak. Apparently Dan wore a look of surprise bordering on shock. Another person, apparently a New Yorker, said, “Welcome to the Big Apple, kid.” That’s the way I remember it, anyway.

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