I admit that I am an animal lover. Ever since as a little boy when bringing home a baby squirrel (briefly), I have been fond of our furry friends. As such, whenever I see a story about an animal, I have to read it, happy or sad. It was, therefore, with some interest that I read an article in the “Letters To The Editor” section of our paper. It was written by one Mr Rupert who, to his credit, had taken the time to warn the fair citizens of this state not to frivolously honk their car horn. It seems that Mr Rupert recently tooted at a chipmunk sitting in the road in an effort to scare it to safety. However, in so doing, he apparently also startled a police officer who proceeded to pull him over and give him a ticket. Upon appearing in court, the judge ruled that “honking at wildlife crossing the road is unnecessary and, therefore, illegal. That lesson cost Mr Rupert $137.00.
Somehow that seemed like a little overkill (pun intended) to me. But, as it turns out MRSA 29-A, Section 1903(2) is called “unnecessary use of horn” and reads “A person may not unnecessarily sound a signaling device or horn”. But here’s what bothers me, other then the fact that “unnecessarily” is not defined. First, if a horn startles this policeman, what does a gunshot do? I do give him credit however for even being aware of the law. But I digress. It seems that this law has been on the books since 1921 when there were probably more horse drawn vehicles on the roads then horseless carriages and it would seem reasonable that a horn toot could startle them causing damage or injury. Ironically, in that same era, across the pond, automobiles were required to have a person waving a red flag and, yup, honking a horn.
Although I commend Mr Rupert for bringing this infraction to our attention, I fear that he may have also opened Pandora’s Box. I can envision that within a week, concerned citizens, upon reading the article, will be posting articles of their own while others will be writing their congressmen, demanding action. The more aggressive among us will organize protests, dressing in Alvin costumes and march through heavily populated areas carrying “Chipmunks Lives Matter” signs. Gangs of roving chipmunks and squirrels , in a spate of civil disobedience will break into pet stores, freeing all the gerbils. Possums for Peace will join the fray as will the National Coalition of Rabbits, a rapidly growing organization. Soon the uprising will be picked up by the AP and legions of reporters will converge upon the city. Hillary Clinton will declare that on her first day in office she will set up a department to study the effect of traffic on chipmunks, funded by taxes. She will support this decision by drawing attention to statistics on chipmunk mortality rates, compiled over several years by a here-to-fore unknown analyst who has labored relentlessly in the bowels of a remote federal building without previous recognition. Not to be outdone, Donald Trump will declare that he loves chipmunks and has in fact employed thousands of them over the years in his wood shaving industry while crowds chant “Make Chipmunks Great Again”. Our Governor will then introduce a bill setting aside several hundred acres of woodlands as a Chipmunk Refuge.
Do you see where I’m going with this? Things can quickly spiral out of control, and, although I am not normally a crusader per se, this does appear to be a cause that I can get behind. I love the little critters. Well, most of them anyway. I don’t have much use the the little S.O.B. that keeps digging up my carrots. Just sayin.