I would like to know exactly how many hours of city staff, councilor and attorney time went into passing Santa Fe's new indecent exposure ordinance. What did it cost us to create and approve this laughably useless legislation, notable only for its abuse potential by police officers looking for an excuse to hassle someone?
Sadly, it's not easy to pin down the exact number but, suffice to say, any amount was too much.
From a city and mayor with a history of courageous actions—adopting green practices, saving the local college, taking strong stances on national issues—this sudden bout of Victorian heroism is, well, nakedly offensive.
Particularly sad is the inclusion of a passage that subjects fully dressed men to a fine in the event that someone observes them to be "discernibly turgid." It recalls the not necessarily apocryphal tale of the boy in school who is dreamily thinking of the girl in front of him and is then called up to face the whole class.
What if you've got a flashlight in your pocket? What if you're walking to the doctor's office with a case of non-ischemic priapism? What if you just have a happy little boner but you're not using it to bother anyone?
Possibly more offensive is the segregation of men and women under the new law. Shirtless men are no problem, but woe betide the woman who bears a nipple because that's just…what? Gross? Hot? Too much for the animal instinct to bear? It is a blatant formalization of the religious patriarchy that believes men can't be blamed for what they do when women behave "inappropriately."
But it's not discrimination, according to Assistant City Attorney Marcos Martinez, whose pen tumescently scribed the new ordinance. He points out the similarities to laws in Pennsylvania and Indiana that have been upheld by the US Supreme Court. This is our litmus now: That's the way they do it in Indiana?
What's next? Hey, if it works in Pakistan…what's the problem?
The same apparently goes for butts. If just a hint of juicy gluteus is exposed—be it female or male—there's no telling what an otherwise good Christian might do.
We're told that a petition signed by more than 1,000 people supported adopting the new ordinance. Those are heady numbers for a city councilor. But then it's pretty easy to collect signatures with a little churchy fear-mongering, maybe leaving out the whole truth—Tea Party style.
When it comes down to it, saying a man may do one thing and a woman must do another is discriminatory. It's hard to believe any clear-thinking individual could believe otherwise. What a clear-thinking individual can see is a case of legal ratification of one particular tribe's custom at the expense of all others.
But, then, specific tribal customs have been known to prevail here. If you'd like to put a new fence around a property that's been in your family for 200 years and it happens to be located in a historic district, there's a good chance the H-board will make you jump through hoops. But if you happen to be the Gerald Peters Gallery and you just can't do without adding 1,500 square feet to your already oversized building (at 32,000 square feet, I think it's safe to call the Peters Gallery "discernibly turgid") well, it's a rubber stamp for you, my friend.
But that's the way it's supposed to work. Historic preservation—as distinguished from the act of ensuring cultural and traditional continuity—is a hobby of the wealthy, and those in the club are the ones who benefit from the regs and rules. After all, there can be no real pretense to preserving neighborhood character when preferential treatment is given to the expansion of a building already so utterly engorged that it appears ready to either sink or float, depending on what you believe its walls are full of (I have my own guess).
Between fearing the butts of bicyclists and worshipping the fiefdoms of the wealthy, we've chosen the path of serfdom over independence, of prudence over possibility and of obedience over diversity.
We all know what happens to serfs, right? Here we are, bent over—but still clothed—by the religious and the wealthy. Let’s just hope a cop strolls by and notes something discernibly turgid before we get truly reamed.
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