Annoyed by Anti-Annoyance Law

Here’s Paul Jacob‘s commentary for today.

I’m annoyed by a new law passed in the Michigan town of Brighton City.

According to the ordinance, police may fine anyone who is too annoying in public. Up to $500. The ordinance states: “It shall be unlawful for a person to engage in a course of conduct or repeatedly commit acts that alarm or seriously annoy another person and that serve no legitimate purpose.”

Obviously, many different things annoy many different people, most having little to do with the possible or actual commission of a crime.

If you and I are annoyed, think about how annoyed the folks are who actually live there. One resident, Charles Griffin, told ABC News that the new law is “the most ridiculous thing in the world.”

Area resident Chetly Zarko has written to the council asking them to repeal the law, arguing that it is “unconstitutionally vague … and impedes on free expression rights under the First Amendment.”

Council members say critics are blowing things out of proportion. They say people aren’t going to be ticketed for talking too loud or making complaints to public officials, but for things like persistent harassment of an ex-girlfriend or the like.

But words mean what they say, don’t they? They don’t mean what they would have meant if only you had said what you meant.

In the spirit of being careful with words, let me revise my opening statement: I am more than merely annoyed.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

The link to the commentary is Annoyed by Anti-Annoyance Law . Links to Chetly Zarko’s coverage are Brighton City Council Annihilates First Amendment and Brighton City Council in Full Spin After our FOIA – Livingston Argus and Radio Cover Us.

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