This was written by Tuscaloosa resident and University of Alabama student Tim D. "Timid Timmy" Sheeple. Timmy initially resisted writing about these events, saying he didn't want "to cause any trouble," but I convinced him to put his experiences in writing for the benefit of our readers. -- DVB
Dear Mr. Bowden:
My friends and I were out on the town in Tuscaloosa the other night, but found our evening cut short when we were told we would have to leave the bar we were patronizing, as it had to close at 1:45 a.m. because of a city ordinance. "That's strange," I thought, "but I'm sure the city leaders know best." Since the bars were all closing, we decided to continue the party at home.
However, our festivities were interrupted when we were paid a visit by one of our local law enforcement officers. "Hey there, you can't do that!," he said. "Do what?," I asked. "That's an illegal barbeque. You can't grill out on the balcony. It's against the law." Not wanting to break such a sensible law, I quickly doused the fire, and instead of a juicy grilled steak, I settled for some cold macaroni I had in the fridge. "No matter," I thought, "It's such a nice night, I'll enjoy just sitting out here on the porch, even if I do have to eat cold macaroni."
"Not so fast," said the cop, shaking his head. "You can't do that." "Do what?," I asked. "You can't sit there–that's an illegal interior couch on your porch. It's against the law. Move it inside or I'll have to give you a ticket." Of course, I immediately put down my cold macaroni and proceeded to move my couch indoors to comply with this eminently sensible ordinance. Thank goodness my roommates were there to help, or I'd never have gotten that heavy couch inside. Of course, they were all quite eager to help me comply with the law (except for my friend Don, who's a libertarian. He was muttering something about "property rights" and "minding your own business" under his breath. I'm glad the officer didn't hear any of that).
Or maybe he did. As he was walking back to his cruiser, the officer stopped and then came back to the porch, ticket book in hand. "Is something the matter, officer?" I asked, trying to smile despite the queasy feeling I was starting to get. "Sure is," he said. "You can't park all these cars in the yard. It's against the law. I'm gonna have to write you at ticket. Tell your visitors to park on the street next time." At this, I brightened. "Oh, no officer. You've got it all wrong. These aren't guests. These are my roommates. They live here and pay rent, so it's OK for them to park in their own yard, right?" The look he gave me told me it was not going to be OK.
A scowl came over the officer's face. "Wait a minute," said the cop, "how many people live here?" "Four, officer. Why do you ask?," I innocently answered (the queasy feeling was coming back). "That's no good," said the cop. "You're in violation of the occupancy ordinance. I'll have to write you a ticket for that too." Fortunately, after writing out the tickets, the officer got back in his cruiser and drove away, apparently ignoring Don's rather loud muttering about the "couch Gestapo." At this point I wasn't hungry anymore, so it didn't matter that I only had the cold macaroni to eat. I put it back in the refrigerator.
After this harrowing incident, my friends and I really needed a drink. We went inside and finished off all the beer in the house. Thus it was that the next day when I wanted a beer to drink while I ate my macaroni, there was none to be found. "No big deal," I thought. "I'll just run down to the store and pick some up." Alas, it was not to be. When I walked up to the register with my case of Budweiser, the clerk said "I can't sell you that." "It's OK," I said. "I'm 27. Take a look at my ID." "I still can't sell that beer to you," said the clerk. "We can't sell alcohol on Sunday. It's against the law." "Well, the law's the law," I thought. "It may not make any sense to me, but I'm sure our great leaders have very good reasons for making all these laws. I'm glad they're working so hard to protect me and keep me safe." So I went back home and finished off my still-cold macaroni, sans beer. When I explained to Don why I didn't get any beer, he started ranting about the Bill of Rights and "watering the tree of liberty with the blood of tyrants." I was glad when he finally shut up and went back to cleaning his gun.
After class on Monday, I decided to hit my favorite bar, The Chukker. But when I arrived, the sign on the door said "OUT OF BUSINESS." "This is horrible!" I thought. "What happened?" Apparently, the bar-closing ordinance ruined Chukker's business, and then the city announced plans to take the property under the eminent domain law so that they could build a new federal courthouse. I guess that's a good reason. After all, we've only got one federal courthouse in Tuscaloosa. With all the new federal laws (PATRIOT Act, etc.) they could probably use a couple more. I don't think I'll mention this to Don. He might not react well. He's always talking about "natural rights" and how government is supposed to be limited. I've never heard of government having any limits, but I try not to argue with Don. He's like a bulldog on this stuff. Besides, I don't want to make him mad. I may need his help moving, since I have to find a new place to live. Think there's any room at the city jail? Don said that's where dangerous lawbreakers like me belong, but maybe he was just being sarcastic.
Tim D. Sheeple
Ed. note: It's good citizens like Timmy that keep government in business. -- DVB