Tuesday, March 12, 2013

That's Some Serious Whistleblowing

Portland, Maine downtown business owners can rest easier now that Robert Smith has agreed to a plea deal on his disorderly conduct charges resulting from his serial whistling. Smith agreed to a judge's condition that he not linger in one place while exercising his musical talents. Apparently, Smith's stationary whistling was disturbing nearby businesses. From the Portland Press Herald:

The prosecutor, Trish McAllister, disagreed that Smith's whistling is protected by the First Amendment. A Portland city ordinance says whistling, hooting and other unnecessary noises that "annoy, disturb or injure the health, peace or safety of others" are forms of disorderly conduct.

So, at least for now, it's "whistle while you walk" for Smith.
In a similar but entirely unrelated matter Reuters reports: 
Are these really examples of silliness in the law or are these incidents reported in a way so as to make the law seem silly? It's hard to tell.  Probably the most that we can say is  that the law maintains order by encouraging or discouraging certain conduct. Law enforcers have a certain amount of discretion in deciding what laws to enforce and how to enforce them.  If we don't like the way law enforcers employ the law, we would have to rely on administrative and political processes to intervene. Ultimately, society is affected by a confluence of all these factors: law, and administrative and political processes.

The "Portland Whistler" (posted August 2012 - Hey! Who is aggressively following whom?)

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