Annoying neighbors have come to be recognized as a part of living in a community. No one wants them, but many people have them.
In fact, they’re such a relatable part of society that they’ve become a staple in comedies. Take Newman on Seinfeld, or the way the Griswold family treats Todd and Margot, the uppity neighbors in National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.
Of course, annoying neighbors aren’t always as lovable as the Griswold family or as laugh-worthy as Newman. Some can be destructive or annoying enough that they have driven families to move.
According to Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan, those sort of neighbors are unacceptable. So unacceptable, in fact, that the government is taking forcible action.
In a 1.3 million euro project, the equivalent of $1.7 million, Amsterdam authorities will round up nuisance neighbors and move them to container housing units that are under constant police supervision with only basic amenities.
They will remain in this imprisoned exile for six months, after which they will be allowed to return to society.
If they are not reformed after the exile, they will be evicted from their homes and left homeless.
The sentiment behind the move has been compared to a comment made by anti-immigration politician Geert Wilders, who last year said, “Repeat offenders should be forcibly removed from their neighborhood and sent to a village for scum. Put all the trash together.”
Based on that comment, Mayor van der Laan’s camps have been called “tuigdorpen,” or “scum villages.”
“The aim is not to reward people who behave badly with a new five-room home with a south-facing garden. This is supposed to be a deterrent,” a mayoral spokesperson said.
But it’s hard not to think the words “police state” where this new law is concerned. What sort of offenses would warrant this kind of exile? Surely they’re not bad enough to send the offender to prison, or they would simply fall into the hands of the normal legal system.
The Telegraph describes this accurately:
The tough approach take by Mr van der Laan appears to jar with Amsterdam’s famous tolerance for prostitution and soft drugs but reflects hardening attitudes to routine anti-social behaviour that falls short of criminality.
Perhaps the offending family isn’t even intending to cause harm or grief to the neighbors, like the Griswolds in Christmas Vacation. Perhaps the “anti-social behaviour” is part of a mental illness.
Whatever the cause, the government does not seem concerned. Because the actions are not illegal, the offenders are not fined or sent to prison. Instead, they receive a government-instituted time out. A six-month long time out.
The action has been compared to European Jewish ghettos, South Africa’s apartheid Bantustans, or another move by the Netherlands in the 19th century when “troublemakers” were moved to Drenthe and Overijssel, towns outside Amsterdam, in an unsuccessful move to clean up the city.
It no longer matters if you fall under the clearly-defined category of criminal. Now the government can punish you for belonging to the vaguely defined group of “nuisance neighbors.”
Reposted Courtesy of The Wealth Wire
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