Coverage of local city council meetings often reminds me of some 1960s summer-replacement sketch comedy show. Seemingly, the only thing separating these meetings from such a label is a guy spinning plates on top of poles. These monthly live assemblies are generally good for a snicker or two until you’re ready to spend the rest of the evening binge watching the latest new series on Hulu (BTW, I highly recommend Letterkenny).

For those who bemoan the monthly circus of city council sideshows, take heart—these meetings and the actions of our local elected officials have nothing on the neo-goofy ideologies of those from around the globe.

Let’s start in America.

The landmark Fair Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing. The legislation itself prohibits a landlord from denying housing based upon seven so-called protected classes: race, color, religion, sex, handicap, familial status and national origin. The Fair Housing Act is one of the most significant laws to be enacted in our nation’s history.

However, some states think the Fair Housing Act does not go far enough to protect against discrimination and are pushing legislation to protect new classes of people.

For instance, the legislature in Washington state recently proposed a bill to make it illegal to discriminate against anyone “dressed like a biker.” As dressing like a biker was undefined in the legislation, I am not sure if they were talking about Lance Armstrong or Dennis Hopper (Writer’s note: millennials may need to find a gray-haired person to explain why the Dennis Hopper reference is so funny).

Not to be outdone in the race to protect people against unfair discrimination, New Jersey is debating legislation making it illegal to discriminate against people based upon their hairstyles. This bill is discriminatory on its face, because it leaves the follically challenged unprotected from the ill intent of unscrupulous baldhead-hating landlords.

And states aren’t the only place in America where you find silly legislation and laws.

The city of Washington, D.C., has dedicated a great deal of money to keeping its citizens protected from a virtual crime wave of … wait for it … sucking on plastic straws. Following an ordinance outlawing the use of plastic straws at public eateries, D.C. hired a “Straw Cop” to walk around the city looking for these evil restaurateurs allowing their customers to sip tasty beverages through a straw that does not collapse when it gets wet. Violent crime in D.C. is three times the national average, but its citizens can rest well at night knowing its Straw Cop is handing out tickets costing violators up to $800 for using a device actually invented in D.C. in 1888.

It’s hard to pick out any one stupid thing done by our federal government. However, I’ll hang my hat on commemorative legislation and executive orders. Most any given day is dedicated to some cause requiring an official proclamation.

Not that Americans shouldn’t support good philanthropic causes large and small, but do we really need a congressional declaration that July 30, 2019, should be National Whistleblower Appreciation Day? Julian Assange may think so. Not me.

And Congress isn’t the only one to blame on these national waste of paper days of celebration. In March, President Trump signed an order commemorating the 198th anniversary of Greek Independence Day. The order was signed months after a violent 60,000-plus person protest in Athens over the word “Macedonia,” and who should be allowed to use it—the country to the north (coincidently, named “Macedonia”) or a northern province of Greece bearing the same moniker.

On a side note, I wonder if Kenton County had similar riots when the City of Kenton Vale was established, but I digress.

And it’s not just us; other countries have people passing stupid laws. Cuba, and their fun-loving brood of oppressive authoritarian thugs, has strict limits on the amount of goods that can be brought onto the island. For instance, artificial fingernails are limited to 24—an odd number since it’s not divisible by the fingers on a hand. Of course, considering the sad state of health care in Cuba, maybe it is. In any event, Fidel’s little brother, Raul Castro, is learning that math is hard.

And up in the Great White North, Canadian law requires 60% of a radio station’s on-air content to be of Canadian origin—a boon for Gordon Lightfoot and Geddy Lee, but a bust for the Beatles’ channel on Sirius (millennials, again find a gray-haired person on your way to your favorite vegan matcha bar for an explanation of the punch line).

So the next time you’re watching your local city council meeting, realize it could be worse. Your council could be considering some completely silly ordinance like those debated around the world. Although, I did hear a rumor that Bromley City Council was considering an ordinance to change the city’s name to Macedonia.

Rick Robinson’s new political thriller, Opposition Research, will be released this fall and will be available at Joseph Beth in Crestview Hills and on Amazon.

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