John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Also, a Sydney mall muzzles screaming children and Winston Churchill gets the axe from downtown Nottingham.
Welcome back to our weekly look at what's being outlawed in cities across the world (past editions here):
WINSTON CHURCHILL, IN ENGLAND
Winston Churchill's star has really fallen since he died in 1965 – at least, it has for a man who shares the former British prime minister's name. A Winston Churchill was recently banned from every shop in downtown Nottingham for his felonious propensity toward shoplifting. A local court imposed the exile after police nailed Winston Churchill for a two-month crime spree this winter that spanned several clothing stores. Winston Churchill had stolen several expensive shirts and a woman's coat from (among other outlets) a Hugo Boss; when staffers confronted him at one business, Winston Churchill "became abusive and left," reports The Independent, which adds these details:
Nottinghamshire Police said staff inspected the rail close to where he was stood and discovered an item of clothing was missing and three security tags had been cut off the garment and placed in the pocket of another coat on display.
Churchill was later arrested and admitted to the theft. Upon his arrest, police also found a pair of pliers used to remove the security tags from stolen items.
As per the paper's account, a Nottingham councilor explained that keeping Winston Churchill out of the city center was imperative, because otherwise the authorities could not guarantee the "livelihood of these businesses and their staff."
ALCOHOL SALES, IN EGYPT
People fearing a moral crackdown in post-revolution Egypt will not be reassured by a fun-killing prohibition against alcohol. The two-year-old Islamist government has decreed that new businesses opening in the suburbs of Cairo will not be licensed to sell booze. Existing stores in these neighborhoods will simply not have their licenses renewed after they expire.
What is driving this attack on liquor? Ding-dong ditching among other bad behaviors, says the government. Reuters interviewed one official who made this claim: "Representatives of the residents in new suburbs complained that the sale of alcohol leads to problems including attacking women and randomly ringing doorbells of people's homes." But some folks see an ulterior motive, like this Egyptian interior designer that spoke to Reuters:
"First this Islamist government will ban alcohol in the new urban communities, then slowly they will try to start banning it elsewhere and then God knows what's next," Fahmy said.
"I don't believe this move is driven by safety reasons but rather by the leaders' attempt to impose their Islamist vision.
"This move is going to negatively affect tourism and annoy many Egyptians as it signals the start of an assault on their personal freedoms and choices."
NOISY CHILDREN, IN AUSTRALIA
A shopping mall near Sydney has done what so many childless people with ringing eardrums have only dreamed of: It's banned screaming kids from the premises. The Dee Why Grand Shopping Centre took hard action after customers complained about tots yelling their heads off in a play area by the food court, posting this notice for all to read: "Stop. Parents please be considerate of other customers using the food court. Screaming children will not be tolerated in the centre." According to NEWS.com.au, the mall's manager said the noise was "so loud she could hear their screams in her office, which was 'miles away.'"
Naturally, this prohibition has provoked even more noise from parents indignant about the muzzling of their offspring. How are kids supposed to enjoy a play area – in absolute silence? asked one mother in The Telegraph: "Kids can't control themselves, they are there to have fun, otherwise there is no reason to have a playground there." Melbourne-based child psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg chimed into the national debate to say the forced quietude reflects society's "increasingly selfish and intolerant" attitude toward others, adding, "This could be a violation of the United Nations rights of the child."