John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also, Mumbai silences "laughing yoga" practitioners and Seattle prohibits a cancer survivor from swimming topless.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world (last week's edition here):
TOPLESS SWIMMING, IN SEATTLE
The parks department in this liberalist of cities is refusing to let a woman with a double mastectomy swim without a top in public pools. Jodi Jaecks has no visible breasts and considers herself "pretty androgynous," reports The Stranger, but cannot do laps the way she wishes due to a parks policy requiring gender-appropriate swimwear. The city believes that Jaecks is simply trying to be subversive; however, she argues that tops hurt her chest and anyway, it is "good for kids to be exposed to the positive reality" of surviving cancer. (For what it's worth, public nudity is legally allowed in Seattle.)
CHALK DRAWINGS, IN DENVER
Kids who execute a sidewalk drawing of a happy bee in Stapleton, a tony neighborhood in Denver, will quickly see their chalk sprayed away by a frowning adult with a garden hose. That's because the home-owners' association has a policy that "anything that offends, disturbs or interferes with the peaceful enjoyment is not allowed on shared spaces," according to Fox 10 News. (Does this count?) Stapleton's censorship of tots hit the media this week after a 3-year-old girl was scolded for scribbling hearts and flowers on the ground. Her mother said, "My initial reaction was, 'You have to be kidding me.'"
LAUGHING, IN MUMBAI
Yoga practitioners in this Indian megalopolis will have to zip it under a recent court decision forbidding loud laughing. The Bombay High Court has ruled in favor of a man who had complained of "mental agony" caused by his neighbors' public displays of high mirth, according to DNA India:
From 7am, around 10 to 15 members of the group gather and sing bhajans and clap loudly. “This is followed by loud and vigorous spells of laughter... They laugh at the top of their voices; every member encourages the others to laugh to their heart’s content,” stated the petition.
Finding such har-harring to be a nuisance, the court decided it “is not proper to gather outside somebody’s house and laugh.” Laughter Yoga was founded in Mumbai in 1995 by Madan Kataria, the "Guru of Giggling," and has since spread to thousands of clubs in 60 countries. Its followers believe that laughter "lowers the level of stress hormones (epinephrine, cortisol, etc) in the blood" and makes it "less likely for a person to succumb to stress and feelings of depression and helplessness."
Top image: Anita Patterson Peppers/Shutterstock.com