Yesterday, April 30th, Dave Ridely set up on the sidewalk in down town Concord directly in front of the state house and performed a puppet show for money. Now you may read this statement and say so? The so here is that there is a law against what he did.
286:1 Showmen. – No showman, tumbler, rope dancer, ventriloquist or other person shall, for pay, exhibit any feats of agility, horsemanship, sleight of hand, rope dancing or feats with cards, or any animals, wax figures, puppets or other show, or promote any public competition, without a license from the selectmen of the town.
The fact that Dave put on such a show in blatant defiance of the law and notified state officials in advance of his performing the show to which the state shrugged and did nothing weakens not only this law but our whole legal system. Do we want to evolve into a society in which the state can pick and choose which laws to enforce? I would hope not.
The question then becomes what should be done here? Should Dave be shackled and tossed away for reckless puppeteering? Should he be fined for trying to earn money with his puppeting skills? Should he be put in the stockades for an afternoon? Clearly I would hope most thinking people would come to the conclusion that this law is foolish and unneeded and nothing should be done to Dave. One would hope then that our state government who clearly doesn't see the need to enforce such a law has likewise come to that conclusion and will eliminate it from the books.
A counter argument is that this law prevents say a puppeteer or showman from setting up a show on a sidewalk blocking local businesses however there are already several other laws which could be used to prevent that so out goes that argument. Beyond that I have not heard any valid arguments for keeping this law and quite frankly if there is a valid argument then the state needs to uniformly enforce it.
Dave, keep up the good work at challenging laws and getting people thinking; hopefully you wont have to explain to a large man named Bubba that your in with him because you put on an illegal puppet show. I would hope our elected officials use this not only as an excuse to clean this law up but to also begin a dialog of which other laws are unnecessary and can be either cleaned up or eliminated.