HIGHTOWER: Stiff Rules for Cemeteries

There are a lot of problems in our cities these days, from intractable inner-city poverty to the frustration of suburban sprawl, but the town of Taylor, Texas, is experiencing a new crisis that apparently is popping up in many areas of our country: Illicit Beautification.This is a life-and-death problem, literally. The illicit beautification is taking place in cemeteries, where families are placing flowers, little statues, small fences, and other adornments on and around the graves of their loved ones. This is being done willy-nilly, usually without permission, and without one iota of regard for cemetery uniformity -- which seems to be the goal of most graveyard operators these days, whether it's a public or a private facility.Just look at the Taylor City Cemetery -- displays of plastic flowers on many graves, little wire garden-plot fences around some graves, even one grave covered with gravel and populated with little bunny statues. Do people think their own love for the dearly departed and their own sense of individual expression should over-rule the town or company's rules on conformity? Apparently so, since they sometimes come at night to decorate their graves, avoiding the plot cops. The one who oversees the Taylor burial ground, refers to people's illicit beautification as "the plague," claiming that it creates a maintenance nightmare and clutters the pattern of flat, uniform rows of graves, which lets the mower run free.He's supported by the manager of two private cemeteries in the Fort Worth area who says he prefers the uniform look of an unornamented lawn, adding that "If every Tom, Dick, and Harry put a little fence around a grave, how are you going to maintain a cemetery? A cemetery that doesn't have some rules and regulations has got misery on its hands," he wails.This is Jim Hightower saying ... Hey, get a job measuring the height of toilet seats, or something -- graveyards are for people, not for stiffs following a rigid rulebook. Besides, I like little bunny statues.

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