Tuesday, August 28, 2007

"Too Small For A Republic, Too Large For An Insane Asylum"

That's how a Civil War-era legislator described South Carolina (and he may have had this young lady in mind), but I was reminded of this motto while reading this story from here in Massachusetts:

Mr. Pierce has an outdoor fireplace that he bought at Target and uses to grill hamburgers and toast marshmallows with his grandchildren. And while the fireplace is more than 50 feet from any of his neighbors’ property lines, smoke has prompted nuisance complaints to Fire Chief Robert P. Parsons.

Chief Parsons said firefighters have investigated the complaints and have not found evidence of nuisance smoke. But, he said, that does not mean the complaints are not valid.

The chief said he sent Mr. Pierce a certified letter dated Aug. 15 stating that he has received complaints from several of his neighbors who were not identified. The letter said that while the fires were found to be small and burning clean, wood smoke is considered an air contaminant under state regulations.

“Effective immediately the Fire Department orders that you no longer burn any wood outdoors in your outdoor fireplace …” the letter said.
Huh? No wood outdoors in my outdoor fireplace? Does that mean I have to move my fireplace indoors? Or should I be burning something other than wood?

It turns out, according to the fire chief involved in this story, that all campfires are illegal in Massachusetts. Every outdoor fireplace sold by Home Depot is a crime scene in the Commonwealth.

Why? Because the state Department of Environmental Protection has declared it. Why? Because they can. Why? Stop asking questions about put out that wooden match, you criminal.