- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 7, 2019


A bunch of angry residents stormed into a Manhattan Beach City Council meeting and demanded government officials do something and do something quick, by gosh, about the pink house with yellow smiley face emojis that is — so the argument goes — upsetting their property value scale.

But guess what, MB residents: Being an American sometimes requires a turning of the cheek. Offensiveness isn’t really a reason to wreck private property rights and protections.

As founder John Adams said: “Property must be secured or liberty cannot exist.”

Yep. Besides, freedom isn’t really free if the government is always being called to step in and regulate away the offensiveness.

The backstory is this, as reported by the Los Angeles Times: A homeowner in the L.A. neighborhood of Manhattan Beach broke local laws by renting out her home for short-term stays.

“I did a four-day short-term rental and got fined $4,000,” homeowner Kathryn Kidd said, in an interview with Easy Reader News. “Now I only do long-term rentals. I didn’t realize [the short-term rental] was illegal.”

But the fines wouldn’t have occurred if the local governing authorities hadn’t been alerted to her short-term rental — and the local government authorities were only put on Kidd’s tail when neighbors complained.

So Kidd paid her fine.

Then she painted the front of her home bright pink and decorated it with a couple of yellow emojis, one with crossed eyes and extended tongue and the other, with crossed eyes and a zipper for a mouth. Both emojis also have inordinately long eyelashes — a point of particular contention to one of the neighbors who are now complaining, once again.

“I feel like I’ve been directly attacked with my eyelash extensions,” said Susan Wieland, one of the neighbors who reported Kidd’s short-term rental activities, as reported in Gizmodo. “It’s definitely directed. I had [my own lashes] done here in Manhattan Beach and they did them way too big. Now it’s painted on the house. … [And] I feel like I’m being bullied, frankly, by [Kidd]. … She’s a bully and she feels she is entitled.”

Sorry, Ms. Wieland. That’s not bullying.

That’s funny.

And that’s sort of what you get when you try to regulate others’ personal properties.

Another neighbor seems similarly bullied.

“[Kidd] was upset the city shut her down and fined her thousands of dollars,” Dina Doll said, CBS reported. “I think [the emojis are] not even ambiguous actually. Zip the lip … we all know what that means. I think it violates every sense of common decency.”

This is just the sort of elitist attitude that fuels over-the-top zoning laws, radical environmentalism and nosy, pesky, “I am zee law!”-type homeowners’ associations: the belief in conformity, at all costs.

The view that the collective matters more than the individual.

In Kidd’s case, she said her house painting was simply a “message” to be “positive and happy and love life,” and that her neighbors are just being overly sensitive. And while that may be the truth — it may not be, either. It may very well be that Kidd did paint her house as a bit of payback for her nosy neighbors’ nosy tattling. But either way, so what?

Private property rights in America should be respected — even when they come in the form of a pink house with yellow emojis. That’s called freedom, people.

If neighbors don’t like that, they can move. And guess what; that’s called freedom, too.

• Cheryl Chumley can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter, @ckchumley.

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