I think it was the busted toilet someone had discarded on
the shoulder of Arrowhead Avenue, right under the sign that
reads, “Keep San Bernardino Beautiful.”

   Or maybe it was the half-eaten carton of cottage cheese,
complete with lid and plastic spoon, that someone had tossed on
my lawn. I hate cottage cheese. I had to use a shovel to pick it up.

   Or it could have been the sight, on University Avenue in
Riverside, of a mother tossing her fast-food trash, including
bags, cups, wrappers and napkins, from the driver’s-side window
of her car, then instructing her children to do the same with
their trash, out the passenger windows.

   Maybe it was all three events that got me thinking.

   Should littering be a capital crime?

   Should litterbugs get the death penalty?

   I know it sounds harsh, but honestly, littering is an
abomination. Most murderers, when they kill, show a
contemptuous disregard for one other person. Mass murderers
show a contemptuous disregard for a few people.

   But litterbugs show a contemptuous disregard for everyone.
Their crime is against the whole human race. Their crime is
against planet Earth.

   To them, our beautiful world is nothing more than their
private garbage pail. And they do their best, or rather worst,
to make it seem like a garbage pail for the rest of us.

   It’s one thing for them to choose to live in squalor
themselves, but by their actions they choose that we live in
squalor, too. That is not acceptable.

   Even certain animals cover their waste. Litterbugs are lower
than animals.

   Unfortunately, too many of these defects live in the Inland

   There are too many litterbugs, and too much litter.

   Our freeway ramps are a disgrace. Many of the main streets
of our cities are eyesores. Our rural byways, which should be
scenic, are instead septic.
       Sadly, I do not have supernatural powers. I probably never
will, even when I become Emperor of the Inland Empire.

   If I had such powers, I promise you there would be swift and
fierce retribution against litterbugs.

   I would wave my hand, or wiggle my nose, or whatever one
does when one has supernatural powers, and I would cause all
litterbugs to be magnetic to trash.

   Wherever they went, litter would come flying at them and
would stick like glue to them. They not only would bear the
burden of the weight, the bulk, the stench of this garbage. But
they would be publicly branded by it, disgraced, humiliated.

   Or I would mess with their television sets, so the only thing
they would see on TV is garbage. I don’t mean the garbage that
the programmers put on there. No, I mean the kind of garbage
that is seen in vacant lots and on roadsides. The litterbugs
could use their channel changers until they were blue in the
face, but the only thing they ever would see on their sets is one
unsightly mess after another. The kind of unsightly mess they
leave for us to look at all the time.

  Or maybe I would cause litterbugs to do a little
sleepwalking at night. For a month or so, until they got the
message, they would wake up each morning nestled deeply in the
nearest trash dumpster.

   They not only would be confused, but filthy and smelly, too.
Their loved ones and friends would wonder what was wrong with
them … and rightly so.

   Hopefully, they would learn some important lessons about how
unsightly and distasteful garbage really is, as well as
important lessons about where garbage does and does not belong.