You might think that the pressing issues in Illinois were things like debt out the wazoo, lousy schools, rampant corruption, etc. But clearly you’ve overlooked one important issue: shark fins. State Rep. Sara Feigenholtz, whose district runs along Lincoln Park and Lakeview, has introduced a bill which would ban the possession and sale of shark fins (unless you are a shark, in which case you can keep yours). Okay, this isn’t exactly a funny thing; the problem of live sharks having their fins hacked off for shark fin soup in Asia, and to some smaller extent in America, is a serious issue in terms of keeping the species going, and states mostly along the west coast have passed legislation trying to curtail the traffic; there’s also an international ban in Pacific waters. So environmentally, bans are probably good. Still, we can think of at least two reasons to hesitate before passing such a law in Illinois.
First is, is this that big a problem here? The Sun-Times manages to find a restaurant (Phoenix in Chinatown) that serves it for special occasions; but we find it hard to think that taking it off banquet menus in Chicago is really going to make much of a dent. Surely the main market for it is in Asian countries. Second, as with the foie gras ban, it’s easy to demonize certain exotic foodstuffs, but does it really enhance our lives to legislatively enact an “Ooh, gross” prejudice against certain Asian or other third world foods? Part of being in the city is having a certain tolerance for the immigrant communities that move here and their strange foreign ways. We would rather see this handled on a national and international level as a matter of overall food policy, than see our local government get into the business of restricting foods based on what has an ick factor for people in Lincoln Park.