BLUNT TRUTH: FREEDOM RALLY SMOKE AND VAPE FINES (AND THE PEOPLE WHO LOATHE THEM)
Image by Tak Toyoshima
With the 25th Annual Boston Freedom Rally scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday (Sept 13 and 14) on Boston Common, we figured now is a kind time to consult with a couple of rally veterans about the city’s recently enacted smoke and vape fine.
For starters, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who has been to more Freedom Rally events than MassCann’s Bill Downing, who has attended 23 of the past 24 gatherings. His take on the ban: “The routine is the ranger or cop approaches, sees you are smoking, and tells you [that] you cannot. You have a choice: extinguish your smoke and smoke at some other place some other time, or continue smoking and get a citation. Not a big deal when compared with what happened just a few years ago. A few years ago people were being hauled off in wagons.
Downing continues: “The effect will be minimal. Those who implemented the ban will be sorely disappointed when they see it has had little impact on the Freedom Rally … The ban is predicated on second-hand smoke studies, none of which were conducted outside. In the open air, second-hand smoke is not an issue. The ban is actually based on politics – not science. Air pollution in general may be an issue, but smoking is not a significant factor in general outdoor air quality.”
We also looked for advice from Rob Potylo, a local musician, man of comedy, radio host at WEMF, and hero of the YouTube series “Quiet Desperation.” By his own tally, he’s performed at the Freedom Rally “at least eight times if you count the rain-out I performed at in 2004.” [ed.: We remember that spectacle, but only because Rob reminded us that his performance involved a “megaphone and red Elvis jumpsuit.”] He continues: “I’m looking forward to epic adventures on the Boston Common to the proportions of Monterey in the Summer of ’67. We can make Boston the new Seattle. Even for just a little while.”
As for the new smoke and vape fine on the Common … Potylo has some tips. [ed.: Note: This is not legal advice, and the Dig is not responsible for your dumb ass.]
“The fine is a witch hunt on culture … Always has been always will be … Inner-Boston is still old thoughts and old money … It’s Cheers hats and Wahlburgers … And it’s time that switches … But Boston wants to repress its wild culture swimming in Cambridge, Allston, Brighton, Somerville from seeping too deep into old school Boston because … Well we would probably have ourselves our own little Haight-Ashbury for a short while and be awesome … Which would be nice … It’s in the air.”
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