Bluff The Listener

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Our panelists tell us three stories of pet peeves being outlawed.


From NPR and WBEZ-Chicago, this is WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! the NPR News quiz. I'm Carl Kasell. We're playing this week with Alonzo Boden, Mo Rocca and Roxanne Roberts. And here again is your host, at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami, Florida, Peter Sagal.


Thank you, Carl.


SAGAL: Thank you all. Right now, it is time for the WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME! "Bluff the Listener" game. Call 1-888-Wait-Wait to play our game on the air. Hi, you're on WAIT WAIT...DON'T TELL ME!

M: This is Kurt from Boston.

SAGAL: Hey Kurt, how are things in Boston? How's the weather?


M: Well, you know, it's not much better than Chicago, I imagine. But you know, we'll gladly trade places with Miami, if that's what it comes to.

SAGAL: Are you guys willing? Would you trade places with Boston right now?


SAGAL: Kurt, it's really nice to have you with us. You're going to play our game in which you must try to tell truth from fiction. Carl, what is Kurt's topic?

KASELL: "Why, There Ought to be a Law."

SAGAL: Everyone has their pet peeve, a small annoyance that for whatever reason drives you crazy. But what if you could bring the power of the state to bear on it? Our panelists are going to tell you three stories about actual attempts to ban unpleasant things. Choose the true story, you'll win Carl's voice on your home answering machine or your voicemail. Ready to play?

M: Sure am.

SAGAL: First, let's hear from Alonzo Boden.

M: Illegal farting causes a big stink.


M: Breaking wind is set to be a crime in an African country. The government of Malawi plans to punish persistent offenders who foul the air, in a bid to mold responsible and disciplined citizens. Locals fear that pinning responsibility on the crime may be difficult. One Malawian told the website What happens in a public place where a group is gathered? Do they lock up half a mini bus?


M: Or the whole elevator? Children will openly deny having passed bad air and point at an elder - who will point at the dog.


SAGAL: Another said: We have serious issues facing Malawians today. I do not know how fouling the air should take priority over regulating Chinese investments, or serious graft amongst legislators. The crime will be enforceable in a new local court system, which will also have the powers to punish a range of other crimes. No word on what the other crimes may be, but burpers beware.



SAGAL: Government of Malawi in Africa.


SAGAL: Attempts to ban the passing of gas. Your next story of an attempt to make something that's annoying illegal comes from Roxanne Roberts.

M: The days when Rover is forced to wear a pink polka-dot raincoat and matching boots are coming to an end if a new ban on doggie outfits is passed in Stockholm. Animal rights advocates have proposed legislation preventing any costume, hat, booties, or any other quote, unnatural and humiliating accessory imposed by their owner.


M: Undercover video taken by the activists show that dogs wearing cutsie outfits not only interacted less with other dogs at parks and playgrounds, but appeared more depressed and listless than their natural counterparts.


M: Dogs would be allowed to wear coats in cold weather, but only of fabrics that approximately match their fur. The one exception to the ban: Owners can dress their dogs in any costume on Halloween.


M: Quote: We are not humorless, activist Anna Lisa Adams told the International Herald Tribune. We just want to preserve the self-esteem of our canine partners.


SAGAL: Saving the dignity of dogs from their overly fashion-conscious owners. Your last story of a new law banning a pet peeve is from Mo Rocca.

M: Fans of the minor league Brooklyn Cyclones of Coney Island are famously boisterous, even by Brooklyn standards. Whether the team wins or loses, the crowd screams and shouts. Now, that may be changing. It's terribly distracting, says newly appointed stadium manager Stanley Buhorick(ph). Buhorick, a former house manager at the Metropolitan Opera, wants to bring civility to minor league baseball.


M: To that end, he's instituted a strict no-talking policy during games, to take effect this spring. Quote: A baseball game is a story in nine acts, Buhorick explains. Chit-chatting and yammering ruins it for audience members who want to get lost in the story. From now on, fans will be allowed to applaud after each inning is completed. If a fan talks more than twice in a game, an usher will remove that fan.


M: Quote: These are not unreasonable rules, says Buhorick. You can still boo if you're not happy with a particular performance. Our Carmen last season at the Met got booed plenty and believe me, she deserved it.


M: But please, this is Coney Island, not Rikers Island.


SAGAL: All right. Let's review your choices. From Alonzo Boden, an attempt to ban the passing of gas in Malawi; from Roxanne Roberts, an attempt to make it illegal to dress dogs in a manner unbefitting their stature and status as dogs; or from Mo Rocca, an attempt to keep the crowd civil at a minor league baseball game. Which of these is the real story about somebody trying to make an annoyance against the law?

M: I'm going to have to go with Alonzo, I think.

SAGAL: You're going to go with Alonzo? You think that the...

M: I know it seems crazy.


SAGAL: It seems crazy. But it just might be true. Well, that's your choice, then, Alonzo's story?

M: Yeah.

SAGAL: Well, we spoke to someone who actually covered this, as a journalist.

M: In England, we talk about he who smelt it dealt it. So there is a danger that people who accuse people of farting, might then have the tables turned on them.

SAGAL: That was Stefa Simanowitz. He's a freelance reporter who covers African news for the Daily Mail. And yes, he tells that it really is true, they're trying to ban farting in Malawi.



SAGAL: Congratulations, Kurt, you got it right.

M: Thank you.

SAGAL: You earned a point for Alonzo. You've won our prize. Carl Kasell will record the greeting on your home answering machine. Thank you so much for playing with us today.

M: Thanks for having me.


SAGAL: Bye-bye.

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