Editorial: Bring on the giant snowmen, we're ready

Oct. 03, 2013 @ 01:29 AM

Scrooge does not reside at the News-Topic.

As we noted in an editorial months ago, we liked the 35-foot-tall snowman that Larry Smith set up at his Christmas tree lot on Morganton Boulevard last year. It simply violated the city’s rules for allowable advertising, and in general we support rules that keep society safe and sane.

The Lenoir City Council’s decision Tuesday night to reverse course on a months-long march toward reinforcing and clarifying those rules caught seemingly everyone by surprise, including Smith, who had stopped by the News-Topic on Monday and clearly anticipated that rules blocking another Frosty display would pass.

Now that the city has adopted rules explicitly allowing temporary displays of giant advertising, it would seem all but certain Frosty will return. Smith said as much Tuesday night. Actually, given the outpouring of public support he received since the controversy began, he might suffer a backlash if he didn’t follow through.

Don’t be surprised, as well, if one or more of Smith’s competitors does the same. After all, there already was one other such display last year. It would be more surprising if this year there were only two.

Some of those in favor of allowing Frosty simply liked Frosty. It was a harmless display, and temporary; the kids liked it; so why not allow it?

Fair enough, though it’s difficult to craft rules based on whether a display is enjoyable.

Others simply opposed the advertising limits as government overreach, arguing as Councilman T.J. Rohr did Tuesday that businesses should be free to advertise how they wish, and if you don’t like it then you don’t patronize that business.

That argument has a certain appeal to us as fans of philosopher John Stuart Mill, who said more or less that people should be free to do as they wish so long as it doesn’t harm anyone else. But it’s a slippery slope.

But if Lenoir starts sliding down that slope into the land of the wall-to-wall giant, inflatable cartoon characters, we are certain at least that it will be an entertaining trip.