John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also in This Week in Bans: a lonesome howl is heard as Germany outlaws bestiality, Cambridge University orders its students to stop throwing flour at each other.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's been outlawed in cities across the world (past editions here):
PUBLIC MISBEHAVIOR, IN BELGIUM
Most cities don't need to remind their citizens that it's wrong to pee in front of a police officer. Brussels, it seems, is the exception. Facing an increasingly uncouth public, the mayor of the Belgian capital and stronghold of the European Union recently upped enforcement against nasty behaviors like public urination, racist, sexist and homophobic language and not picking up your dog's poop.
The new initiative allows law officers to pop violators on the spot to the tune of $320, rather than sending them through the laborious court process. The move follows years in which nuisance-makers faced few legal repercussions, allegedly causing police morale to drop through the basement. Elke Devroe, a criminology professor interviewed by NPR, said law-abiding Belgians have grown fearful in this climate and that "her statistics show dog droppings on sidewalks rank first as an instigator of insecurity in Belgium."
BESTIALITY, IN GERMANY
A lonesome howl has gone up among zoophiles from Berlin to Bremen, as they soon will be prohibited from having sexy time with their animals. The German government has decided to outlaw the squirmy practice that's been legal since the '60s because, explained the country's agricultural chairman, it is "forcing them to behave in ways that are inappropriate to their species." (The animals, he means.)
Veterinarians and animal-rights groups have long called for an end to man-on-beast relations in Germany, as it likely can be psychologically and physically harmful to the animal. (And sometimes fatal to the human.) Germany's bestiality lovers, who are estimated to number some 100,000 strong, are reacting badly to this cone of shame locked onto their sexual freedom. Prominent zoophile Michael Kiok told Metro World News that his kinfolk are already the target of much hatred and discrimination. “There is a lot of pressure, many zoophiles have depression or even commit suicide," he said. "But I have never been attracted to people and my situation now (with Alsatian Cessy) is the best possible."
CELEBRATING THE END OF EXAMS, IN ENGLAND
And thus another fine British tradition bites the dust. After "members of the public were shocked to see more than a thousand Cambridge students stripping off and vomiting at a riotous summer term party on Jesus Green" earlier this year, the revered university has ordered its pupils to keep it down a bit, reports the Telegraph. In a rule that goes into effect next year, Cambridge officials ask that students exiting from their exams please refrain from littering or damaging property, "especially with food or drink," and not block the sidewalks and streets with their party-throngs.
For years the student body has celebrated the end of coursework by spraying wine and tossing bags of flour in the streets. Now, it seems like they'll have to shuffle out quietly like lodgers trying not to wake the baby. However, the kids still have their summertime bash, the notorious Caesarian Sunday. Aside from the vomiting and stripping mentioned above, last year's event also featured students chugging wine through condoms and urinating in flower beds. Cambridge has defended this tradition as “just a bit of fun.” And fun is sure what it looks like: