I’m sure I disagree with most of the policies California Governor Jerry Brown seeks to propose and impose. But let’s give credit where credit is due. He’s right that people should not be treated like criminals when in a burst of celebratory excess they commit the sin of unleashing helium balloons.
California lawmakers thought it would be smart to make criminals out of toddlers and other Snidely Whiplashes who “willfully release” helium balloons made of electrically conductive material.
The potential problem is real enough. When the balloons collide with power lines, they may cause power surges or brief power outages. Squirrels and birds can also cause power outages, and are far more likely to do so. Luckily, though, nobody (so far) has thought of prosecuting wayward warblers.
In vetoing the legislation to criminalize balloon release, Governor Brown said he didn’t believe “that expanded criminal liability is the best solution to the problem of electrically conductive balloons interfering with power lines. As I have said before, our Penal Code is already far too complex and unnecessarily proscriptive. Criminal penalties are not the solution to every problem.”
Brown’s veto message may seem like simple common sense. But in an age in which kids can be suspended from school for doodling a gun or carrying a maple leaf, we have learned that rudimentary reasonableness is not necessarily standard operating procedure.
Hence, any instance of firmly refraining from lunacy must receive our heartfelt thanks and appreciation.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.