Where does 'public space' end and 'my space' begin?
Sanitizing all public spaces smells a bit like government regulation of private lives.
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Gold may not get his wish regarding the segregation of political parties, but perfumes may in fact soon be history for one Massachusetts high school. The Upper Cape Cod Regional Technical School Committee recently met to consider the establishment of a fragrance-free school policy. Superintendent Barry Motta initiated the proposal after receiving numerous complaints by staff and students claiming a host of symptoms after exposure to fragrances. The ban would outlaw colognes, perfumes, scented deodorants, and body sprays.Skip to next paragraph
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It's understandable that those who suffer a reaction induced by scents would welcome the establishment of fragrance-free zones. But high school students entering that tenuous developmental stage, where rebellion, coupled with an increased awareness of their olfactory senses, may be hard pressed to follow the acrid proposal. Not to mention the hit the fragrance industry could take if unable to target its teen demographic.
While libraries and government offices have already established fragrance-free policies, the cynic in me wonders, what's next? Could mass transit, movies, theater, sporting events, and any group activity performed in an enclosed space be far behind? I wonder what happens to those unwilling to go au naturel when it comes to body odor. Would those in favor of donning scents attempt to propose their own ordinance that would require the not-so-fresh smelling to pay some sort of fine, too?
Though nice in theory, bans are not always easily implemented. In 2002, New York City's attempted indoor cellphone ban was not approved, while a citywide noise ban was. "Operation Silent Night" was the mayor's attempt to get the city that never snoozes to pipe down. While a nice idea, I still wonder if it's possible to lower the volume in a city that houses 8 million people on 364 square miles.
Fortunately there is always the great outdoors with wide open spaces for those in search of boundaryless pursuits that do not infringe on the personal rights of others. Unless of course, you're in Calabasas, Calif. This southern California suburb recently implemented a smoking ban in all outdoor public areas (except designated spaces), reportedly the first of its kind in the United States.
According to the bill, anybody could file a lawsuit against anyone smoking within 20 feet of them. An outdoor smoking ban may reduce secondhand smoke exposure. But combining America's propensity to litigate with the growing trend to protect one's personal space may unduly burden our judicial system with additional questionable lawsuits.
Where does this all end - is anyone immune to the intervention of government into the lives of its private citizens?
Who's next, the Easter Bunny? Well, only if you live in St. Louis, Mo., as a recent ban on the bunny has commenced after a toy rabbit, colored eggs, and a sign exhibiting the words "Happy Easter" were removed from the lobby of city offices, fearing non-Christians might find it offensive.
I wonder if Thomas Jefferson may have had the right idea when he suggested, "That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves."
True, unless of course you're the Easter Bunny.
• Jill Rachel Jacobs is a New York based writer and humorist.