Man taken to court for whistling, gets strange punishment

Sometimes there is no why.

One day, you just start picking your nose and you can’t stop.

Or your habit is snoring or swearing or scratching certain parts of your body incessantly.

In the case of Robert Smith, he’s a whistler.

It’s what he does. Perhaps it’s even who he is.

The thing is, his whistling really gets on some people’s nerves. No, not people who live with him.

Anyone who sees him.

So much so that, despite living amid the friendly lobsters and lighthouses of Portland, Maine, Smith was taken to court.

Yes, just for whistling. Well, to put it precisely, for “loud whistling.”

This hasn’t happened just once. The being taken to court, that is.

Local businesses, local people and, who knows, local chihuahuas have become so annoyed by his tunes that they have attempted to use legal means to stifle them.

It just got to the point last summer where the complaints just mounted,” were the words of Trish McAllister, the city’s neighborhood prosecutor, to the Portland Press Herald.

“He’s just so loud,” she added.

One reason for the volume may be the fact that he’s always got his headphones on, listening to classic rock.

Classic rock was often created by disorderly, hairy people. Who can be surprised that whistling to its disruptive tunes has led to several charges of disorderly conduct?

It seems that Smith manages to get under the skin of locals and all the way to their nerve endings because he stands still while he whistles.

He whistles. He walks. He whistles some more.

He whistles. He walks. He whistles some more.

Some complain that it’s like having a (loud) musician stationed outside your store or undertaker’s office for hours at a time.

And Smith does appear to have hours to spare. He works construction in the summer and, well, whistles while he doesn’t work in the winter.

His latest foray into court was allegedly caused by refusing to quieten his whistling when asked. Indeed, Smith allegedly went the other way. He got louder.

So the judge — clearly a man who reveres Solomon more than Scalia — hit upon an equitable punishment.

He decided to have one of Smith’s lips severed from his body.

Wait, no. It wasn’t quite that. In fact, he ordered Smith to no longer whistle while standing still.

This is a novel attempt. No longer can he stand outside one particular place and annoy its occupants.

He can walk up and down and annoy several.

It’s hard to imagine the level of annoyance that the locals feel.

It’s slightly easier when you hear the words of a blogger on Thought Catalog: “He acts like he’s treating all of us to his amazing whistling show and that we should all be so lucky to hear him and his magical ability, but I don’t feel lucky. I feel deep anger and hatred, because his whistling upsets my dog and every dog in the neighborhood.”

You see, I wasn’t joking about the dogs.

The YouTube video I have embedded of his whistling doesn’t make it seem too bad.

However, I know that when I am seated on a bike in the gym for a mere five minutes next to someone who is attempting to sing along to the alleged U2 that is playing on their iPod, I would cheerily place one hand around their throat and the other would squeeze at their nostrils.

Were it legal, of course.

Part of Smith’s problem, I suspect, — just like those who sit next to me in the gym — is that his whistling seems painfully poor.

This is not the sudden discovery of the Susan Boyle of whistling. This, to some, is the the sudden discovery of a rabid rodent in your ear.

And yet Smith believes he should be free to express himself in this manner.

Freedom. We fight for it. We fight over it.

Yet we’d freely squash it with a combine harvester when it means our own sense of freedom is invaded by someone else’s.



Image: MikeFlem/YouTube Screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk