Monday, March 23, 2009

"So preposterous!" Lehe: Couch law cramps 'Burgh living

From china - foods
In China, two women sit on a porch couch like this.
The Pitt News - Lehe: Couch law cramps 'Burgh living Behold City Council’s recent commandment: It is now illegal to put a couch on your front porch in Pittsburgh.

The law sounds ominously like the climax of an unlikely slippery slope argument. Imagine: You’re talking to some right-wing militia nutjob about building codes. “Some basic safety ordinances are called for,” you say. And nutjob says, in a fit of paranoia, “Building codes are fine. But before long, they’ll make it illegal to put a damn couch on your own front porch!” You throw up your hands in disgust because the idea is so preposterous.
Understand that Mr. Kraus, on city council, could be called "Mr. Preposterous."

That's a college word, preposterous.

Latin praeposterus, literally, in the wrong order, from prae- + posterus hinder, following — more at posterior

The posterior part is best left for another day or another blog.

And, source 2:

Contrary to nature, reason, or common sense; absurd. See Synonyms at foolish.

More from The Pitt News:

The newspaper coverage and the City Council members themselves make it clear that the ban is to prevent couch burning... I came to a surprising conclusion: You can burn a couch that isn’t on your porch. Clearly, a porch couch can be stolen and burned by someone besides the owner, but I would submit that the City Council instead take the radical step of making theft illegal.

For every infringement on people’s liberty, the extent of imposition has to be weighed against the severity and commonness of the problem the infringement tries to pre-empt... The couch-burning problem is not serious. It rarely happens. Only a dozen or so of the many thousands of couches that sit on Pittsburgh’s porches year round are set afire. Obviously couch burning should be illegal, but the act is not especially damaging either. The porch couch ban is equivalent to putting stop signs at every single intersection in Pittsburgh, because statistically over one year the stop signs might save a life.
OMG. Only a knucklehead would take the city councilman's logic to its next step by suggesting the city put stop signs at every intersection in the city to prevent car crashes. Bruce Kraus has his marching orders now. The volumes of research will be waved in council chambers in the weeks to come -- and we'll have someone to blame beyond the over-reaching legislative folly wizard.

The Kraus viewpoint is disconnected from reality.

Oakland is not burning. All of the damage happened in one night, not all week long. The damage done by couch burning is also negligible compared with the overturned cars, bus stop collapses and bonfires that people set with trash cans and wooden debris, not couches. It is downright amazing what people can burn when they put their minds to it. That’s Yankee ingenuity in action.

Kraus also makes a non sequitur: “One idiot decides to place an accelerant on the wood of that porch, and that whole row of houses could go up.” This is to say that, if someone covers a porch in gasoline and lights up a couch that’s on the porch, then the porch will catch on fire.

Supporters talk about other reasons, such as rodents and insects that infest couches. This is a classic case of a solution in search of a problem. It’s like people who argue for lower speed limits because driving your car fast hurts its gas mileage, which causes global warming and terrorism and supports governments hostile to women’s rights.

No one believes Pittsburgh suffers from serious rodent problems, or that any such problems are due to porch couches. No one was biting their nails over rat problems before the Super Bowl. Besides, the consequences of vermin infestation fall mainly on those who possess the couches.

Show me the upstanding Pittsburghers who shake their fists at fate and cry: “I did everything right! I keep a clean household! But my neighbor has a couch on his porch that rats use as a springboard for swarm attacks on my home.”

Those who say porch couches are a fire hazard forget that this is only true to the extent that couches in general are fire hazards. The danger doesn’t go away inside the house. A couch actually seems more dangerous inside, where it is dry, can burn a long time with no one noticing, and sits among carpets and other fire-prone upholstered furniture. Is a ban on all couches next? This is a silly, slippery slope. Yet, if you had told the average person five months ago about a porch-couch ban to stop rioting, she would have thought you silly then as well.

The important thing about these complaints — couch theft, couch burning, rodent infestations, fires — is that they are already illegal. More people calling the police, and better police response, would solve these problems surgically.
Well written Lewis.
From texture - misc.
Some things just bug me more than others.

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