Freedom to Fume

But not to smoke in city parks, in Clayton, Missouri, at least. And Arthur Gallagher is fuming about it to the point that he’s hired a lawyer to sue the city for having infringed his constitutional rights. This is hardly a newsworthy event in the land of litigation. What made Courthouse News Service pick up the story was the humorous way in which the lawyer, W. Bevis Schock, set up the complaint. I’ll reproduce the opening bit, and let you peruse the rest of the complaint [PDF] on the Courthouse News site, if you’ve a mind to:

From Duck Soup
In Which Groucho Marx Becomes Dictator of the Mythical State of Freedonia

Mrs. Teasdale
If it’s not asking too much —
For our information
Just for illustration
(Begins Singing)
Tell us how you intend to run the nation.

Groucho (Singing)
These are the laws of my administration:
No one’s allowed to smoke
Or tell a dirty joke —
And whistling is forbidden…

Ensemble (Singing)
We’re not allowed to tell a dirty joke

Groucho (Singing)
If chewing gum is chewed,
The chewer is pursued
And in the hoosegow hidden…

Ensemble (Singing)
If we should choose to chew, we’ll be pursued –

Groucho (Singing)
If any form of pleasure is exhibited
Report to me and it will be prohibited.
I’ll put my foot down;
So shall it be –
This is the land of the free.

(You can watch the performance of this number at about the 6′10″ point in this video clip from the film.)

On the matter of substance, I should note that Clayton is only doing what the big boys have done: just two weeks ago New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg signed into law a ban on smoking in parks and other city-run areas, including Times Square.

[hat tip: @cearta]

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