A goose honk can throw any noise ordinance out the window

October 29, 2012

Honking. For the love of God, Washington County Commissioners, you gotsta amend your anti-noise ordinance to include honking before it’s too late.

Mark Twain said that comparing a human to a feline elevated the human but “degrades the cat.” I get that same uneasy feeling every time I see a governmental board trying to legislate animals. The humans never come out looking good.

And that’s what is going to happen here, where the commissioners needed to decide what animal sounds were to fall under the umbrella of a pending noise ordinance.

For the record, the honorable and duly elected officers who solemnly sit as the Washington County Board of Commissioners agreed on, I am not lying, “barking, howling, braying, quacking and crowing.”

I haven’t made a commissioners meeting in 15 years, but had I known that there was the possibility of Ruth Anne Callaham and Bill McKinley discussing, for the record, the finer points of quacking, a phalanx of log skidders couldn’t have kept me away.

First, as the guardian of two donkeys, I must congratulate the commissioners for putting “braying” on the list. If you have had no up close and personal experience with donkeys, you probably think of them as silent, stoic types that quietly populate third-world stables and transport religious figures.

Or at worst, you might figure a donkey to disgorge the occasional “hee-haw.”

Let me tell you, Hee Haw relates to the actual noise a donkey makes the way windshield condensation relates to the Pacific Ocean. Describe it? There is no way to describe it. It is hell’s own vocal cords, a tweeter wired to the gales of Lake Superior and a subwoofer straight from the depths of Dante’s inferno.

Some find the audio to be cute, and it is in the way that watching a toddler eat a three-minute egg is cute.

But even this is nothing — nothing — compared to the ear-splitting cacophony that comes courtesy of a motivated goose.

A honking goose will drown out all the braying, crowing, barking and quacking you can get your hands on. Matter of fact, I am fully tempted to bring our goose Ralphie and present him in person to the commissioners as Exhibit A.

And the A stands for — well, I can’t say what the A stands for, but suffice to say, he is Archie Bunker in feathers. He can’t keep a woman because he’s such a jerk; we’ve tried to find female companionship for him, but they run off, usually within the first 48 hours. And when he is dissatisfied about something, the whole county knows it.

I would want the county commissioners to slap a noise ordinance on him, and he’s my goose.

And good luck to the animal control officer who is sent to deal with him. My tip would be, don’t wear any loose clothing. If Ralphie gets his beak around something he’s not going to let go — oh, and by all means, don’t wear shorts unless you want to explain to your spouse what you’re doing with a couple dozen thigh hickies.

Despite the fact that he’s easily the most obnoxious bird on the Eastern Seaboard, he’s impossible to hate. He’s kind of like Donald Trump that way — he’s an obvious fraud, but there’s something about him that for unknown reasons just kind of make you smile.

Although if the commissioners want to slap a noise ordinance on Donald Trump, I’m all ears.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or via email at

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