Is there a legitimate legal argument to be made for banning strollers as well as dogs from the farmers markets? Strollers are more annoying than dogs.
—Trixie G., Portland
I’m not unsympathetic to your position—I myself have for years championed the cause of banning children in all public places, on the theory that secondhand parenting is at least as damaging to my health as secondhand smoke. But while you probably think you’re being quite the wag with this suggestion, the truth is that stroller bans have actually been imposed in some places in the United States.
Last year, for example, a Brooklyn tavern grabbed headlines by instituting a ban on strollers on its premises, and in 2007 a New York Barnes Noble prohibited them on most of its sales floor. Since neither ban has so far been challenged in the courts, I’d say yes, a legitimate legal argument can be made.
Whether a legitimate commercial argument can be made is another matter. The Brooklyn bar’s ban provoked a good deal of indignation—and that was a bar, a place where one assumes the sense of parental entitlement is at its weakest. The Barnes Noble ban, on the other hand, provoked such an outcry that the store gave up and rescinded it.
Thus, the question you have to ask yourself is: do people expect a farmers market to be more or less family-friendly than a Park Slope hipster dive? If the answer is “less,” then by all means ban away. And when you’re done with that, you can move on to banning hot dogs at baseball games, raindrops on roses, and freckles on adorable, fresh-faced moppets. Good luck.