Selling watermelons on the Sabbath and drinking...


October 22, 1990

WHAT DO selling watermelons on the Sabbath and drinking iced tea on a bus have in common?

They violate the City Code and carry with them the stigma of misdemeanor and a fine.

Here's another that goes unobserved: anyone who fails to clean the snow in front of a house or establishment within three hours of its falling (or, if it fell during the night, by 11 o'clock the next morning) is subject to a fine of $15 a day.

Or, "If any person. . . shall place. . . in any street, lane or alley in the city, any barrel, hogshead, box, crate or other package, and shall suffer the same to remain for a longer time than twelve hours, or in any instance after nine o'clock in the evening, [he or she] shall forfeit and pay one dollar."

Virtually nothing is neglected -- from the specific months that one may lawfully "dump or place" oyster shells within the corporate limits of Baltimore, to the detailed responsibilities that a person injuring an animal on the road must exercise if he doesn't want to be imprisoned up to 90 days and fined $500.

Here's another one: "Every game or games played upon billiard tables shall be deemed and considered unlawful, and are hereby prohibited, except only the game played with two balls, the game played with three balls, the game played with four balls, and the game commonly called pool, such being the usual games of billiards."

Consult the most recent edition of the Baltimore City Code to make sure you are a law-abiding citizens.

* * * MANY TRADITIONAL Chinese like a shot of snake blood mixed with wine and herbs for medicinal purposes, and flock to "Snake Alley," which is otherwise known as Hwahsi Street, in Taipei, Taiwan, to get some. Alas, all the snakes of Taiwan are protected under the Republic of China's wildlife conservation law.

Not to worry. Almost as traditional in China as the healing power of snake gall bladders is the tradition of smuggling. Recently, four fishing boats brought 109 wooden boxes containing 2,000 vipers, cobras and other poisonous snakes from the Communist mainland, to be sold for food and medicine. The four Taiwanese who took delivery were caught, along with the squirmy contraband.

Normally, officials would send such snakes to zoos or laboratories or return them to the country of origin. Unhappily, this was too many. And since the Republic of China on Taiwan believes itself to be the country of origin, it could hardly deal with the Beijing impostors.

So the ROC Council of Agriculture did the humane thing. It burned all 2,000 poisonous snakes in a garbage landfill in northern Taiwan. That's environmental preservation the tough way. Being cruel to be kind. At least the vipers of China should sleep better knowing there's no future in smuggling them for gourmet or therapeutic purposes.

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