Do you have adblock enabled?
If you can read this, either the style sheet didn't load or you have an older browser that doesn't support style sheets. Try clearing your browser cache and refreshing the page.

(Chicago Breaking News)   Man says his ugly lawn is protected by the first amendment   ( divider line
    More: Amusing  
•       •       •

2553 clicks; posted to Main » on 16 Jul 2001 at 11:38 AM (16 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

45 Comments     (+0 »)
2001-07-16 11:49:20 AM  
I thought the 1st amendment was freedom of speech, not expression. Some could say they go hand in hand... but the way they describe it, the farking lawn could be a fire hazard. I know up in Michigan in the summer time, you have to cut your grass before it reaches are certain hieght, or you get a ticket each day that it is not cut.

Its not expression, its call being farking lazy.
2001-07-16 11:51:56 AM  
Want some action, grow hemp guy! Even if it's the type not used for getting stoned, it'll make a hell of a deal.
2001-07-16 11:59:47 AM  
well apparantly my lawn is no longer equivalent to "my lawn". It is the lawn of the country/city/state/area/my biatchy damn neighbor. I hate people.
2001-07-16 12:03:27 PM  
if he wants to grow wildflowers then let him.....he probably isnt fond of his neighbors perfect little yards either.....its his property...he paid for it they didnt...
2001-07-16 12:03:42 PM  
Simple solution. If the neighbors don't like how he wants to have his lawn, they can pay his property taxes.
2001-07-16 12:09:50 PM  
Nazzerov - so, First Amendment is only speech? So if your municipality passed a law that said all people must wear red hats in public, you'd just do so? After all, it's not speech.

Municipalities have a duty to enforce certain codes of behavior and to promote maintenance for the sake of public health and safety. Until they can demonstrate his 'garden' is a health hazard to the community - well, it's his property.

The problem here is some of his neighbors think it's ugly. So? Maybe I think the neighor is ugly - does that mean the city should come and mow them down? Or maybe I'm tired of their goddamn minivans and SUV's ... can I get them towed? It's ugly, and it's lowering my property values to have these over-fecund yuppie bastards smearing the landscape with their disposable culture and accessorized children.

To quote George Carlin, "fark these boomers, fark these yuppies ... and fark everybody, now that I think about it."
2001-07-16 12:24:43 PM  
Gaaah. I hate people like this. When I get a house, I'm going to paint it orange and yellow just to piss of my most-probably-yuppie neighbours. Paving the grass over with cement has also been a dream of mine.
2001-07-16 12:45:26 PM  
The simple thing to do would be to wait until he leaves for work or goes to bed and have all the neighbors decend upon it and raze it to the ground.

That, or use several gallons of Roundup in the middle of the night.

I lived about 3 miles from someone who used to have junk and trash all over his yard. He claimed that it was for "yard sales" that he apparently had every day and that it was his "right" to keep his stuff out there. One day he and his grandchild got bit by a rabid rat that was living in one of the piles of trash. After going through those painful series of shots he decided that his grandchild's right to grow up healty was more important than his "right" of expression.

Funny how what comes around, goes around....
2001-07-16 01:02:23 PM  
I'm not criticizing him, and I'm not judging him.
of COURSE you're not... but what do YOU call your public biatching? Your right to biatch == his right to a lawn of weeds. Why don't people understand that when discussing censorship of any kind.
2001-07-16 01:04:11 PM  
Maybe the first ammendment is due for a re-write in light of cummunity standards. After all, it is just an ammendment - it's not as if it were part of the constitution itself, and ammendments have been repealed, or "uber-ammended" in the past.

Things like: "[...] freedom of speech [.. yadda yadda ..] with the following provisos:
a) women have to shave their underarm hair
b) men must cut their hair (head, that is) to a maximum length of 1 1/2 inches
c) children must never see a nude human body until they have reached the age of 21, ever
whjndsxx) gardens must be 80% lawn, lawns must be real, natural green grass

... the possibilities are endless.
2001-07-16 01:17:57 PM  
In a couple of years, when his wildflowers are fully established, his neighbors will be farking jealous. But, if he's just letting grass grow 4 feet tall, I understand why they would biatch. It will drive down their property values. A good ass-kicking like the band members took from the football team would be acceptable in that case.
2001-07-16 01:18:19 PM  
The house in question is walking distance from mine. It's actually interesting, in a random, natural kind of way. You have to know that the community is one of those stereotypical Blockbuster-n-Starbucks places where your lawn is expected to look like a putting green.

Many suburbs actually have ordinances on the books regulating external appearances. One I know of disallows parking a car in your driveway overnight. It's got to be in the garage. Seriously. Another outlaws holiday lights after a certain date.

These suburbs are very, very proud of their Truman Show appearance and work dillegntly to see it maintained. In a sense, I understand their point.

If you don't want to conform, don't plunk yourself down in the middle of Conformity Central, USA. Save your complaining and hot air for something more worthwhile.
2001-07-16 01:23:05 PM  
I would have liked to have seen a pictue of the lawn.
2001-07-16 01:35:31 PM  
Conform! Consume! Conform! Consume!
2001-07-16 01:40:09 PM  
I for one don't want to live next to some red neck trailer trash. That's why in my neighborhood we have specific covenants, so we know the rules going in.
2001-07-16 01:47:42 PM  
DataShade: what I was trying to say was if he wants to grow wild flowers and what not, fine. He shouldn't be using the first admendment as the excuse, though. Free speech isn't the reason he is growing this kind of shiat in his yard: its either lack of interest in mowing it, or he likes how it looks. He is not expressing himself by letting his lawn grow... so both the people that want to take his right to tend his lawn that he pays for, any way he wants, are just are stupid -- if not more, than the guy claiming its a 1st admentment case. Unless that grass starts talking....

Besides, in my totalitarian society, there will be no grass. Just large sheets of metal. Lots of metal.
2001-07-16 02:09:46 PM  
I don't really care what my lawn looks like. Hell, I'd rather have it paved and have a nice parking lot. If people complained about it I would just say its my property, if you don't like it maintain it yourself or shut the hell up :P
2001-07-16 02:17:16 PM  
But the way the article read certainly didn't make it seem as if he was just letting his yard go. I certainly would't describe as lazy someone who "plowed under the lawn that surrounded his home and replaced it with seeds for purple coneflowers, pasture thistle, early goldenrod and rye grass." This is a deliberate attempt to express the fact that he will not conform and I say more power to him. Like the guy a couple months ago who painted his house blue with yellow smiley faces and had a stuffed tiger perched on the roof.
2001-07-16 02:48:57 PM  
Good for this guy!

Here's the reason why this guy will get to keep his lawn: It's his constitutional right. City ordinance or not, if this ever goes to the supreme court, he'll win. Why? Because if they have laws that say you can't plant rye grass, then what stops them from saying you can't plant any grass. Or can't paint you house a certain color. Or can't drive a car that is red. How bout can't own a house until your 21. Or move into a neighborhood unless your white.

I think you see where I'm going with all this. These rights are protected under the consitution which is federally enforced. No state or city law can override any of them. They can send him warnings all they want, but they know they have no legal ground to stand on. And as for all those lame laws that exist like the ones Nazzerov and Sharv pointed out, they get overturned the first time they are challenged.
2001-07-16 02:50:22 PM  
What a bunch of little suburbanite fascists! It's his lawn and it sounds like he's keeping it well-maintained. If they don't like it, they can move. That's THEIR choice.
2001-07-16 03:36:02 PM  
I once lived in one of these little suburban neighborhoods (aka Conformist Totalitarian MiniStates). It was entirely too weird for me. Every time I walked out on the front lawn, I could just feel all the eyes on me. These were the nosiest people I'd ever known. The guilt brought down on you for one out of place blade of grass just permeated the atmosphere. The mulch was brought in for the entire neighborhood at once, with the total expectation that you would place it around the appropriate objects (around the house, any trees, your expected little flower garden).

"Most of the people absolutely hate it," said Sarah Bamford, who lives across the street and spends about two hours a day tending her neat rows of roses and rhododendrons, bluebeard and bergenia."

Anyone here see an American Beauty reference? This woman has much bigger problems than her neighbor's yard.
2001-07-16 03:36:20 PM  
In fact, the government can pass a law that says you can't paint your house a certain color, or plant rye grass, or any grass or drive a car that is red. None of these are fundamental rights and may be regulated so long as the ban is rationally related to a legitimate government function. Any reason will do, so long as it doesn't provoke laughter.

That white business would be a violation of equal protection under the 14th amendment (if a state law) or the 5th amendment (if a federal law) unless the government can show such a ban would be necessary for a compelling reason.

We're all endowed with tremendous liberty to be assholes, but even assholes have to bend over for the public will sometimes.
2001-07-16 03:42:11 PM  
I'm on the verge of doing the same kind of wildflowers yard in my house in Alabama. It will be deeply disturbing to many neighbors who have been badly miseducated from an early age. But the older people, bikers and retired moonshiners in the neighborhood like the direction I've been going in with the yard; it's young lawyers and software engineers who have a problem with it.

Boo Radley
2001-07-16 03:52:08 PM  
2001-07-16 03:53:03 PM  
2001-07-16 04:02:05 PM  
Salah the fifth amendment disagrees:

"No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."
2001-07-16 04:08:01 PM  
I hate these kind of guys. Can't do what you are supposed
to. Gotta be different and express myself by not cutting
my grass. Sounds like he should be in an apartment or in
a different neighborhood.
Man, if it were my property values going down the tube
I would have "Chemlawned" his house during the night and
put mine on the market the next day. You know what is coming next, people will start parking on the front lawn while Bass boat trailers occupy the driveways.
2001-07-16 05:00:24 PM  
Cool. Direct opposition. Actual confrontation.
Hm... I just get the feeling that community standards ought to be adhered to voluntarily, and not mandated by law. OK, so that's oversimplified - there's a fine line between what is necessary for reasons of safety, and what is esthetically pleasing to a majority - but in principle?
2001-07-16 05:20:45 PM  
Your absolutly right Salah, they can pass a law, but...

Congress can pass any law that gets enough votes, but that dosn't mean it's legal. The U.S. would have never gotten rid of slavery if it had been up to the majority. That's why the courts have the final say on any law.

Most every law we have is set up to somehow protect the public from something that is harmful. Therefore, if something is not harmful, there shouldn't be a law against it. Courts have been battling public interest vs. personal freedom for decades, and unless the it's clear that the public is being harmed, they rule for personal freedom. Thats the way it should be, also no one can tell me that the worst thing in these peoples lives is someone down the street that grows rye.
2001-07-16 06:53:25 PM  
He should be able to do whatever the hell he likes to his lawn.

2001-07-16 07:31:38 PM  
yah but...what if some innoccent kid wanders in there?? i mean that's the PERFECT place for those sinister gnomes to hide!!! they wont be seen amongst the over grown weeds and all! and then its bye-bye for little johnny or little suzy...
2001-07-16 07:48:47 PM  
Without getting into the semantics of the law, I'd just like to say: More power to you who do not conform.

I've grown up my whole life watching others conform to the big hair and make-up of the 80's, the punked out look of the late 90's etc (there's so much more I could say, but I've put the basics in here so you get my point).

I've never conformed to anything society has deemed "popular" or "politically correct" or any of the other labels you care to put on such things. I am who I am, I do what I do. I do not try to hurt others, but I don't allow society to tell me who I am either.

So. be who you are, do what you do, and don't let society dictate why you do it. And, don't break the law....
2001-07-16 07:58:32 PM  
This nicely points out the innate conflict in the simultaneously solitary and gregarious nature of humanity.
2001-07-16 08:59:42 PM  
Hmm, living in south Texas where people must dump acre-foot after acre-foot of water on their pretty little lawns to keep the from dehydrating and blowing away during the summer, I see the attraction of a natural lawn. Mine tends that way actually, due to my refusal to water it. The only thing that survives are plants that can deal with the natural rainfall.

Down here where we go into water restrictions almost every year, and where some communities actually run out of water (only flush the toilet for solid wastes anyone?), you'd expect more people would be interested in conservation. But no, even at the height of water restrictions, people will sneak out and water their poor lawns.

So, I'm on the side of natural beauty, seed natural plants and let it go wild.

Of course, everyone around here will biatch about the wildlife then.
2001-07-16 11:09:15 PM  
I have a friend who went through the same sort of scenario with a local municipality years ago. He simply hated mowing, probably as a result of being forced to mow twice(!) a week as a lad. His eventual solution was to bring in large quantities of decorative stones to create pathways through his "gardens", which were comprised mostly of whatever decided to grow there. He has, to this day, a yard that has not been mowed in many years, and the city can do nothing about it.
2001-07-17 02:10:11 AM  
this guy is the bomb
2001-07-17 05:22:15 AM  
Vimpaler ...the fifth amendment disagrees: [...] "nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation."

A government regulation is only compensable if:
1) it entails a permanent physical occupation of your land (mandated cable wiring of apartment buildings is the classic example); or
2) it renders your land of no economic value.

Consequently, if the regulation says you can't build anything on your property because it's protected wetlands, that's a taking. If the regulation says you can't have a factory on your land, it's not a taking. Due process is just your right to a hearing on the issue.

Where do you think a regulation about attractive lawns falls?
2001-07-17 05:26:56 AM  
Sicksock: Congress can pass any law that gets enough votes, but that dosn't mean it's legal. [...] That's why the courts have the final say on any law.

Yes. I was pointing out the standard of review that courts use to determine whether a law is constitutional. For fundamental rights (religion, for ex.) or laws affecting a protected class (race, for ex.), the government must show the law is necessary. The government seldom wins these. For non-fundamental rights ("right" to a red car, for ex.) or non-protected classes (gays, for ex.), the plaintiff must show that the law is not rational. The government seldom loses these.

Most every law we have is set up to somehow protect the public from something that is harmful.

"Harmful" is pretty broad and all in the eye of the beholder. Sometimes laws are pro-active, to bring about a benefit such as a better quality of life. Then the issue is, who decides what constitutes a better quality of life? In a democratic society such as ours, the answer is: the majority through it's representatives. We go out of our way to protect the minority, but for non-fundamental issues, what the government says goes.

unless the it's clear that the public is being harmed, [the courts] rule for personal freedom.

With all due respect, that is not the case. For most matters, they are extremely deferential to the legislatature which represents the will of the people. For big issues, like freedom of speech, they balance personal freedom with the benefit to the society. In those cases freedom often loses, particularly under Reagan's legacy, the Rhenquist court.

The reason for the deference is that in a democracy if the people don't like what their elected officials are doing, they can vote them out of office. The people should not rely on some appointed official with no accountability--a judge--to deal with a disagreeable law for them.
2001-07-17 05:28:42 AM  
Labberdasher: community standards ought to be adhered to voluntarily, and not mandated by law.

Every community has trolls, even the real world. The more harmonious the community, the more aggravating the troll when he inevitably appears. Most of the time you put up with them, ignore them, argue with them, whatever. But sometimes you say: "Look, you're too disruptive. We have rules here to make life better and everyone is following them but you. Behave or move on." Life would be a lot better if we never had to say that, but life would be worse if we didn't.

Phew, three messages. Sorry, folks, I just didn't want to go to bed.
2001-07-17 07:44:18 AM  
Salah - g'night. g'morning, for that.

Trolls - yes, and I find it very important just how trolls are handled.

a) You chuck them out. Or: you make them stop. You give them guidlines to follow - the logical extreme is that you turn them into remote-controlled robots, physically incapable of doing anything "unhealthy".

b) You ask yourself "What is their message?". This may be particularly hard, because you are called upon to go somewhere within your mind you have not gone before.

Everyone around the guy in question has "beautiful" gardens, and in may appear that no-one ever questioned their "code of esthetics" (this is patently untrue, but no-one went as far as to actually express themselves). Up comes the man, and plants something different. The most positive message I can come up with is "non-indigenous gardens are a waste if resources. Watch me make something beautiful, sensible, and individualistic. And by the way - the 'individualistic' part is easy in this community of squares."

Other examples stretch the social environment a little more, such as people with dumps on their front lawns. The same questions apply, but the answers are different - perhaps along the lines of "I don't care" or "I detest you" or "help". Whatever.
I just have the feeling that too many people are too sanctimonious and quick to say "this is not my problem - this is their problem" without reflecting whether perhaps, the problem is a skewed perspective on complex reality.
2001-07-17 08:06:32 AM  
I think a petrol bomb in his front garden would constitute free expression :-)
2001-07-17 08:27:52 AM  
Tell me, Mungo - do you love your neighbourhood troll?
Well - I guess enough to keep them warm with a cuddly Molotov cocktail...
2001-07-17 09:43:33 AM  
Labberdasher: I feel you. It's for the very concerns you raise that we allow so much speech and action-as-speech. Sometimes what looks like a troll today turns out to be tomorrow's genius, sure. Usually, however, she just turns out to be a damn troll, so we don't attach a lot of weight to what is being said until she proves to have some worth.

Based on this one flimsy article, it looks like this is a guy who came to a town and immediately started messing with people. First, he built a house that didn't fit in aesthetically. Then when that didn't garner him enough attention, he started this lawn thing. In other words, a troll.

Maybe he's serious about indigenous gardening and he really thinks a brick box is stylish living. One has to ask, then, why didn't he go somewhere to be among people who felt the same way he did? Why would he want to live among such squares if he felt that way about them? And, having chosen to move to this community, why did he feel the best way of bringing people around to his point of view was to antagonize them, flout their laws and claim it's his "right"?

We choose where to live, but our communities also choose us. We can't move someplace and demand that the community conform to us. But communities can demand that we conform or move. We can try to pursuade it to come around to our viewpoint, but that isn't done by moving in and taking a crap in your neighbors' back yard. You might be right about something, say indigenous gardens or not wearing pants around town, but agreement is something you earn, not stamp your feet until you get. There should be no complaining that the process of bringing people around is hard; it's supposed to be hard so that people don't change with every crazy new idea.

I mean, society is a 900 pound vending machine. If you want to get the refreshing can of consensus cola from it, you pay the price. You don't try to shake a can out of it or you'll get crushed. Sometimes the farker takes your money and never gives you the can, but you still don't fark with it. I take it from your post you feel that's a poor design and that some metaphorical bolting should be done, but the people benefiting from the status quo will resist you, pointing out that the vending machine has always been that way so it must be the best design.
2001-07-17 11:40:48 AM  
Salah - Eeek. "And oh yeah - about that coffee..." (nah. won't go there.)

Vending machine ... Community. Hm. I don't like the vending machine? I'll nail it to the wall and paint it pink. If you don't like it, you can put it on a hinge and paint it blue, and if I don't like that, we can start a discussion about the community standards for vending machines. But we're doing it all ourselves, instead of stomping our feet insisting that someone else has to see it our way. I got the impression (your mileage appears to vary) that it wasn't Artiste Indivoodooalishtick stomping his feet, but rather his neighbours. If they were really serious about setting up an inbred clan of style clones (which - fine - is their good right), they could ante up and buy all the real estate in town. Then they would get to define and dictate the shape of each doorknob and doorbell.
The common ground I see is the concept of rules. The idea that my right to swing my fist ends where my neighbour's nose starts is, in my opinion, a dangerously misleading oversimplification, but I do stand by the generalisation that when rules are about to be formulated, there need to be two, not just one sanity checks. The one is the obvious "does this rule make sense?", the other is "do we need a rule in this area at all?". My favourite example: in former East Germany there were standards for the dissolution rate of sugar cubes. Did they make sense? I'm sure they were glorious examples of precision techSpeak (and no, I haven't done my research: it's worthless anecdotal evidence, please ignore it). But on the other hand, I would say they were not entirely necessary.
I postulate that change is in principle a good thing, and what we need is more people who are aware of the categorical imperative, and less arcane rules / laws which someone somewhere at some time instituted as a crutch for their own claim to tolerance.
N.b. - I read you. (My - this is constrained writing)
2001-07-17 10:52:13 PM  
again, this is why i vote libertarian.

oh, and if you want to see a real natural-landscape home, check out Godfrey Daniels' new place! ('s also written extensively on the desire to get the hell out of suburban society, who up and ruined Tempe, AZ for him.

Me? I like old cars. I'll move way out to the country and live as I wish with my old cars for maybe a nice 20 or 30 years before the suburban sprawl knocks on my door and threatens to destroy my way of life or throw me in jail.

Think it won't happen?

Something that gets serious short shrift in discussion of these things nowadays is that the guarantee of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, espescially liberty, constitutes the RIGHT TO BE LEFT ALONE.

Nobody ever says "live and let live" anymore.

Even fewer say "I disagree with what you say but will die to defend your right to say it".

We take so much for granted, that society goes around and terrorizes anyone different than they are, simply out of ignorance and incapability to accept that which is different from themselves. Say all you want about it. Discuss, argue, shout in the streets.

But when you make a law about it, that's when you disgrace everything this country means to me.
Displayed 45 of 45 comments

This thread is archived, and closed to new comments.

Continue Farking

On Twitter

Top Commented
Javascript is required to view headlines in widget.
  1. Links are submitted by members of the Fark community.

  2. When community members submit a link, they also write a custom headline for the story.

  3. Other Farkers comment on the links. This is the number of comments. Click here to read them.

  4. Click here to submit a link.