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  Paul's Column Archive

June 11, 2007

Thanks, Massachusetts, But I Can Go to the Bathroom All By Myself


Americans have grown increasingly desensitized to government intervention in virtually every aspect of their lives. Government has a history of wanting to intervene in our pocketbooks, our companies, our houses and even in the way we raise our children. But now, government wants to take a step further. It wants to accompany us into the bathroom.


Massachusetts Democratic State Representative James Vallee recently introduced a bill that would mandate that all public bathroom doors in the state open outward. You read that correctly – while the Massachusetts legislature should be busy figuring out how to grow the economy and withdraw from people’s lives, it is instead considering a bill that regulates the direction in which bathroom doors should swing.


Vallee filed the bill on behalf of a Massachusetts resident and a friend, Douglas Flavin. Apparently, the whole opening-the-door-inwards-using-a-doorknob social catastrophe that the American public has had to endure over the years is one of Flavin’s “pet peeves.” And now, his buddy in the legislature wants to turn this pet peeve into a legislative issue.


In an interview, Flavin expressed his strong feelings about the problem: “You wash your hand and you've got to grab the knob that some guy just had his pissy hand all over… It's been annoying me for some time.”


Oh, OK. In that case, it’s completely legitimate to take the issue to the legislature. In fact, now that the Massachusetts legislature is a place to address people’s pet peeves and bathroom minutiae, here are a few additional suggestions that it should address:


Mandatory Fly in Urinals: Janitors at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam have to deal with 80 percent less spillage around urinals in bathrooms they are cleaning. The reason? Someone thought it would be a good idea to put a drawing of a fly in the middle of each urinal, which encourages men to aim for it while answering the call of nature, hence significantly reducing spillage. Certainly sounds like something the Massachusetts legislature should mandate.


Mandatory Sensors for Everything: If Americans apparently should have a legal right to not touch a bathroom doorknob in order to exit the bathroom, why should they touch anything in the bathroom? The Massachusetts legislature must not allow any public bathrooms to operate without urinals, toilets, faucets, soap and towel dispensers not equipped with sensors that remove the need for physical touching of these items. In fact, if the Founding Fathers had the technology at the time, they might even have written these basic human rights into the Bill of Rights itself.


Mandatory Automated Toilet Seat: It is widely acknowledged that while men are relatively indifferent about the position in which the toilet seat is left in after use, women insist on it being put back down when lifted. Hence, to prevent individuals from having to manually put the toilet seat down prior to use, it is the moral duty of the Massachusetts legislature to ensure that a little motor be installed on every toilet. If the toilet seat is lifted up, the little motor would automatically put it back down when the toilet is flushed.


Restrictions on Bathroom Conversations: Many would agree that conversations in public bathrooms are, well, quite awkward. Take as a prime example the man using a urinal when another decides to strike up a conversation about the football game that was on that evening. Since neither the U.S. nor the Massachusetts Supreme Court have dug up a right to privacy that spares us such bathroom exchanges (or not yet at least), perhaps the Massachusetts legislature should step in and make it illegal to chat in public bathrooms.


Each of these situations fall under the “pet peeve” category for countless Americans, so shouldn’t the Massachusetts legislature consider them just as they are considering the all-important door-swing dilemma? And when they are done regulating every minuscule aspect of the bathroom, what exactly will they move on to? It doesn’t matter – for clearly, only the legislators can be trusted with knowing the answers to such crucial questions. After all, without their wisdom and guidance, we would have to use doorknobs to, gulp, open doors.

© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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