Editorial: Little violinist, big heart

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Rules are rules, and everybody must abide by them. Make an exception and you’re opening the door to anarchy.

That’s basically the logic behind any set of laws, including the city of Coeur d’Alene having an ordinance on the books that requires anybody playing music and asking for donations on city property to first receive a free permit from City Hall. Yes, even an 11-year-old, violin-toting girl with a big heart for animals.

The letter of the law was being followed on Independence Day when the girl, playing her violin at City Park while being supervised by her mother, was told by a city employee that she was not allowed to do that unless she had a permit. And no, it didn’t matter that she was trying to raise money for the Kootenai Humane Society; the letter of the law says no permit, no play. No exceptions.

It seems that too often, common sense is the first casualty when a tiny bit of wiggle room reading between the law’s lines isn’t permitted. Who would have been hurt had the city employee looked the other way when the child was playing? Heck, what would have been the harm if the employee had gently suggested she get a permit next time she wanted to raise money on city property for a good cause?

This clearly was not a case of panhandlers and ne’er-do-wells taking over public property for personal gain. A little common sense and compassion could have taught the girl a very valuable lesson in both civics and community spirit.

But as is so often the case with unfortunate events like this, some good did come from it. Readers responded not just with outrage, but with generosity, too. They donated cash to ensure that Sarah Hoatson made her goal of $110. That means a small plaque with an inscribed message will be placed on a kennel cage door for a year in Sarah’s honor.

Her message is a quote from Roger Carass: “Dogs are not our whole life. They make our life whole.”

Thanks for helping us see life a little more clearly, Sarah.

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