1/29/14 Blue Laws Amid Diversity

I was perusing the news on-line when an article directed me to the fact that Bergen County, New Jersey, the heaviest populated New Jersey county which sits right across from Manhattan where the Chris Christie manipulated George Washington Bridge lands is the only county in New Jersey that still has a Sunday Blue Law. While the MetLife Stadium can be open for business on Sunday, your local mall and merchants cannot.

Mississippi gave up on blue laws when I was still a teenager.

A trip to Wikipedia, written it seems by the Bergen County Chamber of Commerce in spite of Wikipedia’s conflict of interest policy, reveals all the wonderful things about the county. About its very high per capita income, about its exclusive municipalities with their expensive homes, and dozens of paragraphs touting its ethnic diversity as Americans of all sorts of ethnic derivatives are noted. I looked at it and wondered once again when we were going to stop being [insert ethnicity here]-Americans and just refer to ourselves as Americans. Yet every group is represented, obviously African-Americans, to Armenian-Americans, all the way down through Western European Americans. Does that refer to generic white people, I wonder? See for yourself…. HERE.

The Wikipedia site even advises me that 1 out of 160 households are headed by same-sex couples. Yes, New Jersey is a wonderfully diverse place, a haven for ethnicities of all varieties, and people of other-than-heterosexual orientation. It would just be lovely if you could travel down the George Washington Bridge without being a Chris Christie supporter, and if you could just buy a new sport coat, neck-tie, or pair of loafers on Sunday. Alas, you cannot.

The Wikipedia site even makes mention of the number of Jews in the county. Many are unable to make clothing or hardware purchases on Saturday because of their own religious prohibition, and also unable to shop on Sunday because of the religious prohibitions of others. Who are the people who keep voting to keep the blue laws intact?

We Christians in the South have long since decided that our zeal to keep our own holy day holy was misplaced. No one ever decided to become a follower of Christ because they were unable to buy a pair of overalls on Sunday. Odd…you can’t get those blue-jeans, but you can get a football ticket and a beer at MetLife stadium on Sunday. If Bergen County wanted to be helpful, since they list their Muslim-American population as well as their Jewish-American population, would it not make sense to list the Christian-American population as well? Why not have the blue laws cover all three weekly holy days: Friday for the Muslims, Saturday for the Jews, and Sunday for the Christians. Maybe agnostics can have Monday, atheists can take Tuesday, and pagans/animists/hedonists can take Thursday. That would leave Wednesday for work which would be just fine since everyone knows it is hump day anyway. Furthermore, Buddhists could stack on top of any day other than Wednesday since the hallmark of Buddhism is the absence of desire. I have no idea which day New Jersey’s Indian-Americans might want to take, though it seems likely that its Balkan-Americans, Armenian-Americans, Polish-Americans, and Italian Americans might likely identify themselves as Christians and want Sunday, too.

At least Chris Christie could have the George Washington Bridge closed every day but Wednesday and not cause much of a problem, except that lots of folks in Bergen County actually work in Manhattan, which is open every day except for those days business owners choose to close. I could be off base on the George Washington Bridge thing, though, since folks are not usually traveling from Manhattan to Hackensack to do their shopping. It is even stated that the town of Paramus requires offices of any description to be closed on Sunday. Why office workers should have the day off, but grocery store clerks, gas station attendants and others be required to work is a mysterious inequity to me. The town of Paramus has huge outlet malls, so perhaps some do travel from New York City to Bergen County to shop…just better not do it on Sunday.

Some towns and cities restrict beer sales on Sundays in Mississippi, and no Liquor sales are allowed by the state on Sunday. New Jersey allows a lot of local autonomy on beer and liquor sales. Oddly, Bergen County allows beer and liquor sales on Sunday, but you can’t buy a washing machine, cell phone, or a Bruce Springsteen CD, much less a pair of blue jeans. Though I can’t buy the Bruce Springsteen CD on Sunday, I can buy a bottle of whiskey that I will likely need for medicinal purposes if I am forced to listen to Bruce Springsteen. Lots of folks like his Jersey Shore music. I am not one of them, though I will admit to liking his music far more than I like it when he opens his mouth to do something besides sing. I detest musicians trying to tell me what my politics should be…well, more apt…I detest musicians other than myself when they express political opinions.

“Welcome to New Jersey, The Garden State,” the sign screams at me as I cross over the one lane open on the George Washington Bridge on Sunday. There may as well be a disclaimer at the base of the sign reading, “No Sunday Gardening Shopping Trips.” Perhaps it should also read, “Keep plenty of quarters with you as you drive, you will need them.”

God bless New Jersey. It is as alien a place as I have ever been. Maybe they should include Southern-American in the Diversity plug on Wikipedia. With Sunday Blue Laws, I’d feel just like an the eight year old boy back in Mississippi, wondering why my dad could buy his minnows and beer but had to leave the sunglasses and sinkers on the counter at the bait shop.

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