I have mixed feelings about this one, but here goes: Fox and other right-wing media outlets are getting worked up about an eleven-year-old girl from Portland, Oregon, who was denied the right to sell bags of mistletoe at a public park and, we're told, was urged to beg instead. Megyn Kelly is on the job, as you can imagine -- she's not overtly selling this as part of the war on Christmas (mistletoe's a bit too pagan, I guess), but she's bringing us the story in the usual oh-so-subtle Fox manner:
I can't embed the video at the link, but here are excerpts from Kelly's interview with eleven-year-old Madison Root:
MEGYN KELLY: ... You were out there trying to earn money to pay for your braces, a security guard comes up to you in a public park, cites a city ordinance saying you're not allowed to sell your mistletoe -- what made you so mad about that?This kid has her spiel down cold; maybe it's been shaped a wee bit by Fox producers. But watch the clip -- she's hard to dislike.
MADISON ROOT: Well, what made me so mad about that was that he said I could beg, but I couldn't work hard and sell. What has society really come to, teaching these kids to beg instead of work hard and sell?
KELLY ... So the city said no. So now all these people who want to donate to you because they love that -- your personal responsibility and your attitude towards life, but you don't want their donations, do you?
ROOT: Yeah, I would rather have them buy, because I'm all into buying and giving something back for their money....
So what was up with this poor child being prevented from selling her mistletoe by the ogres of Portlandia political correctness? Well, here's the story, according to The Oregonian:
Madison Root of Lake Oswego spent much of the day last Friday cutting and bagging mistletoe at her uncle’s Newberg farm.Here's the thing: she was selling the mistletoe at a market where the other sellers had gone through a permitting process. She's an adorable eleven-year-old showing a lot of pluck and initiative, but she was also jumping the line. A couple of commenters on The Oregonian's website made this point:
On Saturday, the 11-year-old plopped down a box near the Skidmore Fountain at Portland Saturday Market with dozens of beribbonned bags inside. In less than a half-hour, she'd sold seven of them at $4 a pop....
A private security guard for the market told Madison and her dad that they were violating city code (specifically Chapter 20.12.020, "Soliciting For or Conducting Business" in a public park). Under the rule, it's illegal to "sell or offer to sell any article or service" without a permit....
Ok, that's it. I'm going to have my little girl sell stuff for me at fairs and markets where everyone else has to have a permit. All I need are suggestions on what to sell. How about home-made chicken strips. I'll make sure my little girl does all the cooking though.Even a story elsewhere at FoxNews.com acknowledges what was going on:
It was a private security guard which asked her to leave, not the city.
The Market pays for services, notably security. They have applications available on their website for guest vendors. It wouldn't be fair to the vendors that pay for the space (not to mention the security guard that asked her to leave) for her to remain selling without permits or contributing to the organization.
How many private businesses would be happy for someone to set up shop in their stores without their permission?
Also troubling is their attitude. Yes, she's a child. Her father was there and isn't. It's very telling that he was also trying to make the case that his daughter is a special snowflake that gets to operate outside the law, and rather tedious that he's trying to point fingers. Great, you're better than a homeless person or a drug dealer. You still have to obey the law.
A security guard told her that she had to stop selling due to a city ordinance that bans such activity in a park "except as expressly permitted under the terms of a lease, concession or permit," KATU.com reportedAnd it's not as if the security guard was touting the virtues of begging while denouncing entrepreneurialism, which is what Megyn Kelly and other outraged right-wingers want you to believe. Even Glenn Beck, in his interview with Root, thought that was unlikely, as it turned out to be:
The guard then told Madison that she could sell her mistletoe outside the boundaries of the park where the fountain and the market are located, away from the crowds, or she could simply ask for donations to cover the cost of her braces.
GLENN BECK: ... Did he volunteer that you could beg for the money, or did you --?Look, these are two separate issues. A series of Portland mayors have tried to restrict panhandling, but have run up against state laws that anti-panhandling ordinances are said to violate, according to the courts. Meanwhile, the city allows public selling, but it's regulated.
MADISON ROOT: Well, we asked him about the beggars around us, and he said that, um, they're begging for money, so I could -- you could beg, but you can't sell.
In some contexts, regulation of commerce is regarded as conservative. Here in New York, Rudy Giuliani cracked down on street artists selling their work, and the right was delighted (and disgusted when courts ruled against the mayor). But this is a cute little girl, so the rules should be bent -- even if, as one of the Oregonian commenters notes, that would mean that any unlicensed vendor could show up at the market with a kid and play on everyone's sympathy.
(Did I mention that the Portland Saturday Market has now offered to waive the permit fee for Madison?)
I don't have a problem with Madison Root. I have a problem with right-wingers who don't see any gray here.
And in case you're wondering, pediatric dental coverage is not mandatory in Oregon health plans, even under the Affordable Care Act. Then again, even Canadian single payer excludes orthodontia from mandatory coverage.