Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Now this gets my goat

According to the Chinese way of doing calendar business, 2015 was the Year of the Goat.

But I’m here to tell Xi Jinping that, in real life, 2017 has been quite the year, goat-wise.

Pink Slip, ever with the eye toward what’s trendy, picked up on this earlier this year, when I noted that there were goats galore. One of the sub-goatish topics of my post was goat yoga, which combines two things I know absolutely nothing about. Well, ignorance has never stopped me from developing an insta-opinion, and holding it for however long it takes me to concoct a piece. Here’s what I had to say about goat yoga in April:

The more I think about it, the more I like the idea of mixing goats and yoga.To me, yoga – despite pose names like Downward Dog - always seems kind of humorless. Having a bunch of goats scampering around might lighten things up quite a bit. (Source: Pink Slip)

But the District of Columbia apparently frowns on the combination of goats and yoga:

the Department of Health (DOH) is aiming to end this menacing mixture of fitness and farm animals. D.C. Brau, a Washington microbrewery, had to cancel two sold-out goat yoga classes—which were to be followed by beer tastings—after the DOH warned that the events would violate a ban on spectators touching animals at public events. (Source: Reason)

A ‘ban on spectators touching animals at public events’? Say wha? I mean, there’s bad touchy. I know that. But there’s also good touchy. Does this mean that, if I attend a public event in Washington – say a march to protest the pardoning of Donald Trump, père ou fils – and someone marches by with a really sweet Lab, I can’t pet the Lab?

DC DOH has shut down goat yoga before.

In June, the department also forbade the Congressional Cemetery from hosting a goat yoga fundraiser.

Organizers were told that they needed to “get a wildlife handling permit for exotic animals.”

Who even knew that goats are exotic?

Maybe in DC, where the plain old animals run more to snakes, rats, and weasels.

Exceptions can be made to the goat fatwa if the event is educational – which the Cemetery folks argued theirs was - but the city “could see no educational merit…Officials even expressed concern that participants might lose their balance and fall on the goats.” They also stressed the same “no touch” policy that ended the goat-yoga-beer tasting event.

But the National Zoo has a petting zoo, and Christian Britschgi, whose post on Reason is the source for this post, looked into Goat-gate:

It’s possible that the "no touch" policy makes some sort of exemption for these petting zoos, but I could find no text of the actual policy to verify this, let alone justify it.

Christian also looked into the city’s rules and came up with nothing that could justify banning goat yoga.

Chalk it up to arbitrary and capricious, I guess.

Now I am not anti-regulation. I thank having a relatively strong regulatory system for the fact that I’m sitting here without having to wear a gas mask, that the water that flows from my tap is potable, and for having been spared being a child laborer (anywhere other than in the home I grew up in). But for every excellent regulation, there’s likely a really stupid one. And sometimes that regulation doesn’t even appear to be written down anywhere. It’s just made up and enforced on an ad hoc basis. Like this one. Which really gets my goat.

A tip of the Pink Slip straw hat, with a bite of the brim nibbled out by a goat, to my brother-in-law Rick for sending this one my way.

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