Monday, September 10, 2007


In San Francisco, persons classified as "ugly" may not walk down any street. This is a true law. If you are, as I asked my Business Law teacher, you would be arrested.

My first reaction was that this law was absolutely ridiculous. I understand laws to keep the city beautiful (recycling, air pollution prevention) but to this extent?

What kind of scale is this judged upon? So far in my life experience I've never heard of an 'ugly scale.' I feel its relative to every person: after all, isn't beauty in the eye of the beholder? Or is that just a stupid outdated notion disproved by the media again and again today?

Now, its definitely constitutional because it doesn't violate the first amendment: what does it violate? How would you feel if you were told you classified as ugly and were arrested and fined?


Elliot Ross said...

Wait what?! Are you kidding? This is completely absured not matter what way you look at it.

I wonder if this is just one of the out of date laws that was passed in the 1800's and never really enforced. Is that a possibility? What was your original source on this?

From any angle I look at it "Ugly" is very subjective. It's all in the eyes of the beholder, much like art is. So to have someone arrested on the basis that someone city official thinks you are unattractive is, to put it plainly, stupid.

Just because someone isn't exactly the most pleasing to look at does not deny them the right to walk down the street to run errands or take pleasure in shopping like the rest of us. I think, if this law is true, that something needs to be done about this. That's my take anyway.

katrina337 said...

I agree with Elliot, that's completely stupid. Who comes up with such laws? That's horrible. Couldn't it be classified as cruel and unusual punishment? I mean, getting arrested for walking down the street because someone doesn't like the way you look? That's outrageous.

Simone S. said...

It is an outrageous law! Wait, doesn't it violate something in the constitution? There is no way to judge beauty becasue as stated by Elliot, its totally a subjective assessment. Has anyone gotten arrested?

Rebecca said...

I'm a Twilight Zone fanatic and there's this one episode called "In the Eye of the Beholder" and it's all about this woman that's in the hospital trying to get her face fixed because, apparantly, its so ugly that children scream when they see her walking down the street. Throughout the whole episode she's wearing these bandages that completely cover her face and it's all leading up to the moment when they plan to remove the bandages to see if the correctional surgery worked. However, none of the faces of the doctors or nurses are shown either. Then when the bandages come off, it's revealed that she actually looks pretty and it's everyone else that have these horrible pig-like faces even though, according to them, she's the ugly one. Creepy huh? The point of this whole thing was to express my view that we see beauty as what we grow up thinking is beauty based on what everyone else tells us what beauty is. Therefore, ugliness and beauty are nothing but illusions, so it is completely unjustified to punish either one.

KatieA said...

AS Elliot said, I would be very interested as to your souce on this. I agree with everyone that this is a completley ridiculous law. Is it possible to create a standard of attractiveness? I would think that this did go against the constitution. If we're all supposed to be equal, than one cannot be judged based on their looks.

Dani said...

Wouldnt this be like trying to define art? Theres beauty in everything if you just take the time to look

susanna.w said...

Well, apparently its not only in the San Francisco laws but also posted all over the internet as one of the stupidest laws ever made. This law does not actually SPECIFICALLY go against the constitution: the first amendment does not protect people from being fired/discriminated against based on physical looks. That's why modelling agencies are around. Of course, the law is not exactly a model for equality either, obviously.

In response to Dani's comment, I think that it is true that art is based a lot on personal perception and therefore can be applied to one's beauty. I'm not sure if the law is technically still in USE but it's still there. As for a standard for beauty, I think there is one although its for a specific kind of beauty: one generated by the media of today. There was definitely a standard for beauties in Elizabethan England and Ancient China although not necessarily agreed upon be everyone as a permanent set, it was generally thought of as a rubric for modern beauties.

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