Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.



July 2013

Overgovernment: Weed Wackos Edition

Written by , Posted in Big Government, The Nanny State & A Regulated Society

Chicago is hung up on weeds. First, there’s this story of a man fined for picking dandelions to eat:

Most agree, dandelions are a notorious weed. But some recognize that dandelion greens can contribute to a tasty and nutritious meal.

Among the fans of the food is John Taris, a 75-year-old retiree who lives in the Chicago area with his wife on a $1,500-a-month social security payment. When the couple’s food supply was a bit low recently, he volunteered to go pick some to provide a vegetable, writes columnist John Kass in the Chicago Tribune (sub. req.).

But, caught in the act of picking the weeds by a Cook County Forest Preserve cop, he was issued a $75 ticket. His court date is July 9.

A spokeswoman for the forest preserve district noted that foraging is prohibited there and called the practice “unsustainable, especially when it’s done for commercial purposes,” the article reports.

I’m not sure what “commercial purposes” the government may have manufactured here. I imagine it’s being used in a similar fashion as “intent to distribute” is when a suspect is caught with a small amount of drugs – in other words, without any regard to the actual facts. It’s all fine to protect public lands from succumbing to the tragedy of the commons, but it’s freaking dandelions.

The second story also comes from Chicago. This time it’s a retired teacher fined $600 dollars for growing weeds.

A retired Chicago teacher had wanted to appeal the $600 fine she got last year for growing “weeds” in her prize-winning Chicago garden. (The prize, which was presented personally by former Mayor Richard Daley, includes a photo of Kathy Cummings’ yard.)

But it wasn’t until Cummings chatted with a neighbor that she was able to find an attorney to represent her in the case.

…Her complaint, which was filed last month, contends that the ordinance is unconstitutionally vague on its face and has been arbitrarily applied in violation of equal protection and due process in order to increase city revenue. The ordinance bans vegetation taller than 10 inches that isn’t maintained, but doesn’t define what is, and isn’t, a weed.

Is it just me, or does Chicago have some weird fascination with weeds? Whatever the case, there is clearly overgovernment at work.