John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also outlawed around the world: "gay cure" ads in London, discrimination on the basis of sexuality in Indiana, South Carolina yarn bombing.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world (last week's edition here):
BEER WITH NO-NO WORDS, IN EVERY ALABAMA CITY
You can finally buy sex toys in Alabama (for "bona fide medical, scientific, educational, legislative, judicial or law enforcement" reasons, only, mind you), but you still cannot enjoy a beer whose label incorporates a word used by Mark Twain, a popular Wu Tang rapper, and several characters on Game of Thrones. No, there will be no comfort to the hot, dry throats of Alabamians who just want a glass of Dirty Bastard Beer, thanks to a decision by the state's alcoholic board that found it profane. Michigan's Founders Brewing can either appeal the ban (possible legal strategy: the state is okay with Fat Bastard wine) or change the label to something safer, like Gosh Darn Diddly Beer, Child Born Out of Wedlock Beer or Dirt McGirt Beer. The alcohol agency made similar waves in 2011 when it banned Cycles Gladiator, a wine with a nude female bicyclist on its label.
GAY BASHING IN SOUTH BEND, INDIANA
For the first time ever, the city hugging the border of Michigan outlawed discriminating against people on the basis of their sexual orientation and gender identity. Three similar attempts by South Bend's council had failed in the past six years; after hours of fevered discussion, the equality bill passed six to three late last month. The law had faced fervent opposition from the Citizens for Community Values of Indiana, whose Patrick Mangan vowed, “If it is passed, it’ll be a symbolic vote because it will be challenged and overturned in court.” Now that it has passed, however, the CCVI will have plenty of time to focus on its other initiatives: beating gay marriage, opposing extramarital sex and pursuing "the enactment, defense and enforcement, within the Constitution, of limitations on the porn/sex industry in all of its forms."
CURES FOR HOMOSEXUALITY, IN LONDON
Speaking of victories for equality, gay folks in England won't have to stare at billboards telling them they are broken. London Mayor Boris Johnson has blocked an impending advertising blitz by two Christian groups to plaster city buses with ads suggesting that homosexuality is a fixable choice. The ads read: "Not gay! Ex-gay, post-gay and proud. Get over it!" Michael Davidson of the Northern Ireland-based Core Issues Trust complained that he had gotten a contract with Transport for London, and that "I didn't realize censorship was in place." (I can't find a statement from the other group involved, Anglican Mainstream, although you can sign their petition against gay marriage over here.) TLR is obviously biased toward the gays: In 2007, it was named one of England's best place for gay workers. The find-a-random-hookup app Grindr, meanwhile, recently named London the Gayest International City. (The "hottest Grindr guys" internationally? They would be in Tel Aviv.)
YARN BOMBING, NEAR MYRTLE BEACH
Here's a cautionary tale for artists who wander outside their chosen medium. The city administrator of Conway has forced a pair of glass-blowers to remove colorful yard wrapped around a tree and lightpole outside their workshop, because it was "graffiti." Ed and Barbara Streeter of Conway Glass reluctantly cut down their colorful tactical urbanism on Wednesday, which they had a friend knit from pink biodegradable string for Valentine's Day. Yarn-bombers have been under siege lately, getting their bike-rack sweaters torn off and parking-meter cozies degloved. One yarn-bomb fan at the blog Black Water Honey dreads an impending national crackdown on knitters, warning:
This is just going too far. When is enough going to be enough? Has the world become so politically correct and so darn callous that we would stoop so low has to spend preposterous amounts of time and energy on ridding one little tree of its colors? This is America for crying out loud!! …
You know, I seem to remember an organization that did not like color or creativity. Hitler’s Nazi Regime.
Photo of Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale by Bernt Rostad.