Stupid Pet Tricks

They drink from the same water supply as regular Las Vegans. They attend schools administered by the same district. So it’s unlikely the folks who live inside the boundaries of the landlocked city of North Las Vegas — the “mean/scag ghetto” north of town that Hunter Thompson famously called “Nevada’s answer to East St. Louis — a slum and a graveyard, last stop before permanent exile to Ely or Winnemuca” — are really, um … developmentally disabled.

It’s just that they keep doing things that make you wonder.

For the longest time, law-abiding Clark County gun owners with target or self-defense weapons safely cased in their cars had to worry about inadvertently driving across the line into North Las Vegas, where the victim disarmament laws were more restrictive. (The state Legislature finally told them to knock it off, last year.)

Back in 2005, the North Las Vegas city fathers announced a new plan to pro-actively inspect each of the city’s 23,400 rental apartments annually, rather than wait for tenants to complain about problems.

(City Manager Gregory Rose’s proposal for universal warrantless searches of the poor “would help out low and moderate-income people … and get at some of the slumlords,” explained North Las Vegas Code Enforcement Manager Sheldon Klain. Apparently the Fourth Amendment and all that “probable cause” stuff no longer apply, once the northbound traveler waves goodbye to Glitter Gulch, weaves his way past the hundreds of hoboes camped on the sidewalks or lined up for an early supper at the North Main Street soup kitchens, and crosses Lake Mead Boulevard.)

That same year, Jean Withers, a Winnemucca native making a bid for the North Las Vegas Third Ward City Council seat, visited the newspaper’s offices to discuss her proposal that the North Las Vegas City Council “form a committee that could counsel with those people” who live in the older, southeastern sections of the municipality, instructing them in how to refurbish their run-down properties.

Bridling a bit at the lady’s repeated references to “those people,” I asked Ms. Withers, “How would you feel if someone from the city showed up and starting telling you how to maintain your property?”

“Oh, but they do,” she replied. “We get letters if there are inappropriate things in our yards. Some people leave inappropriate things on their porches.”

“What kinds of things?” she was asked.

“We had a man in our neighborhood” (Country Gardens, a gated community off Decatur between Ann Road and Lone Mountain) “who got several letters because he kept leaving his shoes on his porch.”

“His shoes?” asked editor Tom Mitchell.

“Yes,” said Ms. Withers.

“But what if he was Japanese?” Mr. Mitchell asked.

“He was,” the candidate replied.

“And … did the letters resolve the problem?” I asked the candidate. “Did he stop leaving his shoes on the porch?”

“He moved,” Ms. Withers explained — apparently quite satisfied with the outcome.

Now North Las Vegas again leads the way, having become last week the first municipality in Southern Nevada to enact an ordinance requiring virtually all cats and dogs in that municipality to be spayed or neutered before they reach the age of four months.

Now, the spaying and neutering of pets — except working farm animals or critters owned by those prepared to go the extra mile required to breed pedigreed stock — is a fine idea, don’t get me wrong.

It’s a wise move to reduce the number of surplus animals that have to be put down every year. That’s why most pet owners already take this step, which additionally makes animals less likely to wander, to fight, and to spray the particularly redolent scent which can render a house full of “whole” male cats so uniquely charming.

But what earthly good can come of adding another largely unenforceable law to the already overweight statute books? Are police officers really to start kneeling down and examining these animals’, um … private parts? Who will be the first resident jailed on charges of “roaming kitty”?

If everything that’s good and noble must be made mandatory — without regard to whether we can possibly have enough police to enforce all these edicts — shall we also mandate serving green leafy vegetables with every meal, and telling our children that we love them?

For that matter, doesn’t the North Las Vegas City Council realize the sanctity of motherhood, and the unending need for successive new generations of blood don- , pardon me, taxpayers? Why on earth haven’t they yet passed a law requiring married couples to, um, behave in a manner proven most likely to produce offspring, at least three times a week?

Schedules could be sent out in the mail, after the fashion of the water district telling us when to irrigate our lawns, informing each domestic unit whether they’re in the Monday-Wednesday-Friday or the Tuesday-Thursday-Saturday group.

Register these couples and keep track of their production. (Is that really so outrageous? By 1776, after all — while Americans were tied up with sillier priorities — John Taylor Gatto reports that Prussian law required women to report the onset of their monthly menses to the police.) Then, should school populations swell out of control in future, the city can easily extend its mandatory animal neuter-and-microchip program to include … the children.

There are two models for organizing a modern society. The German philosopher Fichte two centuries ago called for German society to be put on a course in which government would micromanage everything, creating strength through regimentation and order, honing citizens into interchangeable parts best suited to the factory or the armed forces, eliminating the chaos caused by individuality. State-run “education should provide the means to destroy free will,” he advised.

American patriots from Orestes Brownson to Rose Wilder Lane warned that such a Prussian system was incompatible with the American tradition of freedom and individual sovereignty. “Here the people do not look to the government for light, for instruction, but the government looks to the people,” Mr. Brownson explained in 1839. “The people give law to the government.”

The battle is still ongoing. Government now tells Americans where and what we can smoke, when we must wear helmets and safety belts, what kind of light bulbs we can use, how many miles per gallon our tinfoil cars must attain, how many gallons of water we’re allowed to use each time we flush a toilet.

North Las Vegas has chosen sides in this ongoing battle. And it has chosen poorly.

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