Utne Blogs > Arts and Culture

Don’t Spit on My Street

by Will Wlizlo


Tags: Spitting, public displays of grossness, arts and culture, Atlantic Cities, Will Wlizlo,

spitting.jpg 

Forget the global warming crisis; pay no mind to unabated fundamentalism smeared across the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and American heartland; don’t worry about withering civil rights under Bush and Obama. No, America, we have a much more pressing concern: mucus.

Saliva. Phlegm. Big, slimy loogies. Spit.

The world can be an ugly place, so might as well not be forced to shuffle through it stepping on each other’s snot. That’s why John Metcalfe wrote a breezy defense of anti-spitting laws for the urban planning and design blog The Atlantic Cities.

Archaic spitting laws that restrict the public discharge of fluids from your face, many passed in the “tuberculosis-ridden 1800s,” are still on the books across the country—and even enforced. “After seeing the 18-year-old discharge a glob of saliva onto the street,” Metcalfe summarizes a recent Florida news story, “a pair of local cops took him to jail and stuck him with a $100 fine.” But that’s not quite satisfying for Metcalfe, who claims he would “personally rather run across an angry drug addict peeing on a dumpster than one more man launching a snot rocket over the subway tracks.”

The Florida adolescent didn’t even receive the maximum penalty for spitting. According to Metcalfe, “Violators can incur fines of up to $500 and a 60-day jail sentence, where presumably they can spit their hearts out into a metal toilet.”

Other places already impose and police spitting bans—for example golf courses, Singapore, and the fictional planet Arrakis—to great effect. Their reasons are unique to the place, but all send the same message: “Don’t be gross, people.”

The article might have been merely an excuse for Metcalfe to write a bunch of gross puns and cringe-worthy anecdotes. (You might also argue that that’s why I wrote a post about it, too.) He doesn’t step into the discussion of whether or not it’s the proper place for government in our personal lives, which is probably good, because that could only lead to a black hole of comment flaming. But I largely agree with his opinion that spitting doesn’t do much to encourage polite social interaction.

Source: The Atlantic Cities 

Image by peretzp, licensed under Creative Commons.