Anvil of Reason Award Winner: Crystal River anti-flag law

May 07, 2011|By Luke Broadwater

One of the foolish things in which local governments often involve themselves is enforcing arbitrary rules about the aesthetic value of aspects of people's homes or businesses. Across the country, there are various requirements that houses can only be painted certain colors, doors must be wooden, windows must appear historic, siding must be horizontal (or vertical, depending on the street), etc., etc. Recently Delaware officials tore down some poor guy's basketball hoop, which had been there for more than a decade. 

Well, the latest example of the arbitrary aesthetic police comes from our neighbors in Florida. 

Linda Downey, the owner of a restaurant called "Taste of Philly," says she was recently cited by her town for flying -- wait for it -- too many patriotic flags on the side of her store. 

Apparently, in Crystal River, you're allowed to fly three patriotic flags, but no more. And it doesn't matter whether the customers of the store love the flags or not. 

The action conjures up the line from a Dead Kennedys song: "It's the suede denim secret police. They have come for your uncool niece." 

I understand that many of these laws stem from an effort to try to keep property values high. An ugly door, a poor color choice on siding or an abundance of flags could detract from neighbors' home values, the argument goes. However, common sense is needed in these situations. 

If flying several patriotic flags on the side of a stand-alone store is illegal, then the law needs to be changed. One could even argue such flags should be encouraged by local governments, not discouraged. 

Crystal River, enjoy your "Wile E. Coyote Anvil of Reason" award.

Once you change your law, we'll happily accept it back.  

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