18 July, 2009

Those Puritans in Spain and Berkeley

…and it ain't just the Italians. Spanish towns have started prohibiting all kinds of behavior from their beaches, on account of unhappy residents complaining about tourists' behavior. Examples of behavior recently prohibited from beaches include:

  • smoking*;
  • drinking alcohol;
  • even playing a guitar!
Those troglodytes! In Europe! What right will they take away next?

This reminds me of a story I read fifteen or twenty years ago about a guy who decided to attend class buck nekkid at the University of California at Berkeley. Like the Costa del Sol, even Berkeley has its limits, so they spent a month trying to figure out a reason to create a public indecency law. In the end, they justified it by saying it was a form of sexual harassment. This is Berkeley, after all.**

Oh, yeah: the Spaniards have even banned sex from the beach. O tempora! O mores! Quid proxima, quid superiore libertas tollabitur?***

*Well of course they'd ban smoking, you remark to yourself, which shows how little you know of Europe,**** where cigarettes are still sold in vending machines—yes, kiddies, once upon a time even the US had the three C's of vending machines: Coke, chips, and cigarettes! but now they've taken our rights to cigarette vending machines away, and given the concerns of obesity and diabetes, it looks like Coke and chips are next.

**After doing an internet search for "naked guy" Berkeley to confirm my memory, I find confirmation of a naked guy at Berkeley whose activities prompted Berkeley (both the university and the city) to enact public indecency ordinances. My memory of "sexual harassment" being the justification may be merely a memory of National Review's tongue-in-cheek suggestion for a justification. That said, like Herodotus and most other historians, I'm not about to let the truth get in the way of a good story. But if the story does ring true for anyone else, I'd appreciate it if you spoke up.

*** Grossly misapplied Cicero quote courtesy of Wikisource.

****Come to think of it, maybe the reason Europe doesn't have an obesity problem is that half the population is strung up on nicotine. You think I'm kidding, and I am, but not by much. I have noticed that our obesity epidemic coincides with the decrease in smoking. This is where someone tells me that, if anything, cutting back on smoking helps reduce diabetes, but I doubt it reduces obesity.


Clemens said...

I always thought it was because Europeans walk everywhere because they rely on public transportation. And so many of them eat a Mediterranean diet: Pasta, olive oil, and wine.

But then, I never let a few facts get in the way of a theory.

jack perry said...

I agree about the walking bit, but I do wonder if nicotine doesn't also play a role.