Boston banned smokeless tobacco at athletic fields, including Fenway Park, this past week. Blame second-hand stupid. San Francisco imposed a similar measure earlier this year, and one must keep up with the Joneses.
But the fault lies not just with oversocialized, other-directed city councilors. Boston owes its genetic makeup to preachy Puritans, no-funnik Brahmins, and Cotton Mather Catholics. They can’t help telling people what to do and they can’t help imagining themselves as paragons of tolerance as they do it. It’s a Boston thing. You wouldn’t understand.
Before Boston banned Copenhagen, the locals banned kissing and Christmas. In 1634, the Great and General Court outlawed men wearing long hair in the colony. In 1656, the city fathers placed a Captain Kemble in the stocks for “lewd and unseemly behaviour.” His offense? Kissing his wife on his porch after a return from three years at sea. Three years later, the Puritan proto-Grinches proscribed Christmas.
Later Puritans sans the funny hats pulled Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, William Faulkner’s Mosquitoes, and Voltaire’s Candide from the shelves. The Sage of Baltimore found himself banned in Boston. On April 5, 1926, Watch and Ward Society agent Frank Chase gave H.L. Mencken a 50-cent piece, which he famously bit to verify its authenticity. Mencken gave Chase an issue of the American Mercury in exchange. Chase shouted on the Boston Common (site of earlier executions of Quakers, which the early settlers regarded as the Phillip Morris of religions) for the police to “Arrest this man!” More than a half century later, the city’s official censor (soon, like Robespierre, caught up in his own mania and eliminated) barred Ozzy Osbourne from performing after remembering the Alamo.
Mayor James Michael Curley, who served part of his final term from the federal penitentiary, forbade the words “damn,” “hell,” and “my God” from the stage. The only man who served as Boston’s mayor longer than Curley attempted to close-before-it-opened a fast food restaurant for its owner’s stance on gay marriage. “There is no place for discrimination on Boston’s Freedom Trail,” the late mayor Thomas Menino wrote Chik-fil-A’s president Dan Cathy in 2012, “and no place for your company alongside it.”
The latest witches hunted in the state that killed more of them than the rest of the country combined wear blue baseball caps rather than pointy black hats. Perhaps through his wizardry, Jake Peavy (pictured), who started using smokeless tobacco in fifth grade, engineered his exit from the Athens of America last season after glimpsing bad omens. Alas, the pitcher now plays in the other major-league city to ban the moist, dark stuff on its ballfields.
Noting chew and dip’s place as “part of the culture of baseball” and that “smokeless tobacco spit is unsanitary and interferes with the enjoyment of other players and fans,” the city council decreed on Wednesday night that “no person shall use smokeless tobacco or any other tobacco product, at an event site for professional, collegiate, high school or organized amateur sporting events.”
It’s embarrassing enough knowing that your state once served as the epicenter of the Know-Nothing Party. Now that the politicians all belong to the Know-Everything Party, there’s just no persuading the benighted-enlightened.
Beech-Nut is healthier than fascism.