Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Virginia Town's Fortune-Telling Ban Repealed

The town of Front Royal, Virginia has finally moved into the current century by repealing a long-standing ban on "fortune-telling" and the practice of "magic arts." Oddly enough, the repeal proved a controversial issue for the town council, even though few other cities have such laws and the ones that do rarely enforce them. For the most part they're holdovers from a time when people were genuinely worried about supernatural influences.

For decades, Front Royal has had a code listed among its ordinances that bans fortunetelling and the practice of magic arts. Understandably, the ban's legality and use of offensive terms like "gypsies" has come under fire.

More than 50 supporters and opponents showed up at a hearing earlier this month to voice their concerns, after a local tarot card reader was allegedly asked to stop practicing her craft because it violates city code.

Monday night, the town council voted 4-2 to repeal the ban. Many Front Royal residents had wanted the ban to stay in place "out of fear" of harboring "Satanism," the Northern Virginia Daily reported.

Regulating professional fortune-telling is not necessarily completely out of line. The town of Salem, Massachusetts, for example, has a board that licenses professional psychics and "Halloween performers," and even that barely keeps the clown shoes in check. But the idea that fortune-telling of any kind should be completely banned along with "magic arts?" Sorry, but magical arts are part of my religious practices. Therefore, according to the Supreme Court, the town should not have the authority to ban them.

It also amazes me that apparently a lot of Front Royal residents are still living in the late 1980's, when "Satanism" was believed to be a real threat to actual people - as opposed to the tiny cadre of theatrical atheists and left-hand path esotericists that it in fact is. Given how rare they are, it's unlikely that even one would live in a town as small as Front Royal. And anyway, Satanists have a right to religious freedom just like everyone else. What are these folks afraid they'll do? Install a monument?

Technorati Digg This Stumble Stumble


Nerd said...

I bet people were still doing physics in that town the entire time.

Scott Stenwick said...

Well, of course they were. I'm guessing these folks aren't defining "magic arts" as "causing change to occur in conformity with will" because if they were, all technology would have been banned prior to the repeal.