DCMontreal: Blowing the Whistle on Society

Eclectic social commentary with a chuckle and maybe a sting in the tail

Portland man told he must keep moving while whistling; city must be free of any real crime


Gabe Souza/Staff Photographer Portland Press Herald

I’ve been to Portland, Maine on a couple of occasions and found it to be a pleasant enough place. Little did I know that it is a city without crime. I jump to this conclusion having just learned that a judge in Portland has ordered 32 year old Robert Smith to keep moving while he whistles.

According to the Portland Press Herald, police built a case against Smith, known to many as The Whistler, and brought charges of disorderly conduct against the man.

Over the past year, in fact, Smith has been summonsed, arrested and taken to court for disorderly conduct for “loud whistling.”

It would seem to me that if the Portland police have the time and resources to carry out this kind of work, there must be a total absence of actual crime in the city. Surely “loud whistling” is at the very bottom of the priority list, along with being too tall, dangerous hopping on one foot and not covering your mouth when you sneeze/cough.

I’m sure the men and women of the Portland police would rather be doing what they do best: keeping the citizens of Portland safe.

In 2004 a similar situation arose in Montreal when upscale Ogilvy’s store on Ste. Catherine tried to have the Spoonman (Cyrille Esteve) stopped from playing his spoons outside on the street corner as he had done for years. But folks were not happy with the attempted ban and rallied to support Esteve.

Hundreds of people are rallying behind a 52-year-old busker in Montreal who faces the loss of his livelihood under a new law banning spoon-playing on a downtown street.

I am pleased to say that almost ten years later the Spoonman is still playing outside Ogilvy’s.

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