Regulating roadside memorials

January 19, 2009
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Everyone has seen them while driving – the roadside memorials marking the spot where someone died with a cross, pictures, flowers, or stuffed animals. One Indiana legislator wants to regulate the erection of these by having the Indiana Department of Transportation or local government establish and maintain a roadside memorial for just one year.

At first glance, I question getting INDOT involved. These are private memorials set up by grieving family members or friends to remember a loved one and let the general public know someone died in an accident at that location. As long as the memorial is on public property and isn’t a distraction to drivers, it should be left alone.

Plus, the estimated $92 a pop to create, maintain, and then remove them will come from the State Highway Fund. The fiscal impact statement for the bill suggests around 100 people would want a memorial, but I imagine the number would be much higher. I bet you could get 100 requests just from the more populous counties like Marion, Lake, or Allen.

But many times these memorials aren’t on public property. A woman was recently killed on a street I drive every day and now there are stuffed animals and other items fastened to the tree in the front yard of where she was killed. As I passed by, I wondered if the homeowners allowed the memorial or if they are just putting up with it for the time being. I can’t imagine I’d want stuffed animals permanently affixed in my front yard, but how do you tell a grieving family to remove them?

Rep. Vern Tincher, D-Riley, suggests in HB 1108 that INDOT or local government step in and create uniform roadside memorials to remember the victims. Any memorials that pop up that aren’t erected by the government would be removed and all memorials would be taken down after one year. This isn’t the first time Indiana has tried to regulate roadside memorials. In 2003, a similar bill was introduced by Rep. Duane Cheney, D-Portage.

A state or locally regulated process would cut down on the distractions of giant teddy bears and other objects on the side of the road or tethered to trees. Regulation would also help private property owners when family members want to mark the site of a death. However, is it really the government’s place to do so with state funds?
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  • They SO need to ban these roadside memorials. They are ugly and tacky. If they were to limit it to attractive vegetation or a state-approved marker, it would be nice. As it is, though, people are allowed to decorate the spot where their loved one died with all kinds of tacky crap that sits out in the weather and becomes moldy, wet, and deteriorated. There is one behind my apartment building that has sat there for FOUR MONTHS and the city is too cowardly to make them remove it. I\'m sick of looking at that disgusting trash. It\'s not a memorial if it\'s garbage. What would you call wet, moldy stuffed animals other than garbage? Families should grieve in private. I should not have to be subjected to a bunch of tacky, ghetto-looking junk on public thoroughfares.
  • I AGREE THEY SOULD NOT BE ALLOWED THATS WHY OUR SOCIETY HAS GRAVE YARDS BUT GRAVE YARDS HAVE RULES . THE ROADSIDE MEMORIAL ACROSS THE STEET FROM MY DRIVE WAY GLOWS IN THE DARK FAKE FLOWERS CONSTANT GARBAGE FROM VISTORS TEENAGERS DOING BURNOUTS EVEN HEAD LIGHTS ON MY BEDROOM WALL WHEN VISTORS COME CALLING AFTER CLOSING TIME AT THE BAR. EVEN IF I GRILL A PORK CHOP THEY ARE HERE!!!!!!!!! THEY GET TO ENJOY THEIR PROPERTY BUT WE PUT UP WITH CONSTANT STREAM OF PEOPLE. IT\'S NOW 15 MONTHS INTO THIS AND I CANNOT BELIEVE SOCIETY PUTS UP WITH THIS OR FORCES US TO LIVE LIKE THIS

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  1. Someone off their meds? C'mon John, it is called the politics of Empire. Get with the program, will ya? How can we build one world under secularist ideals without breaking a few eggs? Of course, once it is fully built, is the American public who will feel the deadly grip of the velvet glove. One cannot lay down with dogs without getting fleas. The cup of wrath is nearly full, John Smith, nearly full. Oops, there I go, almost sounding as alarmist as Smith. Guess he and I both need to listen to this again: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRnQ65J02XA

  2. Charles Rice was one of the greatest of the so-called great generation in America. I was privileged to count him among my mentors. He stood firm for Christ and Christ's Church in the Spirit of Thomas More, always quick to be a good servant of the King, but always God's first. I had Rice come speak to 700 in Fort Wayne as Obama took office. Rice was concerned that this rise of aggressive secularism and militant Islam were dual threats to Christendom,er, please forgive, I meant to say "Western Civilization". RIP Charlie. You are safe at home.

  3. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  4. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  5. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

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