Editorial: Repeal that offensive town law

Front Royal town code currently states it “shall be unlawful for any company of gypsies or other strolling company or person to receive compensation or reward for pretending to tell fortunes or to practice any so-called ‘magic art.'”

The town voted 4-3 to repeal the ban on fortunetelling after a public meeting on Monday night. More than 50 people were present at the hearing. Some spoke out against the repeal, noting among other things that fortunetelling would increase crime in the town. Those for the repeal have said the law discriminates against Earth-based religions.

Town Attorney Douglas Napier and Councilman Hrbek were voices of reason Tuesday night. Napier told the crowd that the courts have already decided that such a ban is a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech and expression.

Hrbek said language in the code was “pejorative” and “insulting.”

He’s right about that. Substitute Jews, Muslims, Christians, Canadians or homosexuals for Gypsies in that code. Insulting and prejudiced? Certainly. As to the “magic art” part of the law, why is that even on the books today?

A second reading on the repeal will need to take place. This is 2014. It’s past time to step out of the Dark Ages. Repeal the ban.

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