Nevada State Legislature poised to take regulation of Burning Man away from state and local cops

M Otis Beard sez, "A bill gaining support in the Nevada State Assembly would make Burning Man hands-off for state and county law enforcement officials, and subject only to Federal authority."

Each year, the local sheriff has been jacking Burning Man for increasing per-head fees, and the county's conservative lawmakers have been passing silly-season unconstitutionalities, like a law prohibiting a man from being naked in the presence of a child. It's combination of revenue generation and garden-variety harassment, and there had been rumbles about the festival taking up local native groups on an invitation to move it to Paiute land where the county wouldn't get a say.

“Earlier this morning, the Chamber supported AB 374 in the Assembly Government Affairs Committee. This bill, pushed by Assemblyman David Bobzien, came about because of threats by some rural counties to start charging local permitting fees and increasing costs for the Burning Man festival that comes to the Black Rock Desert every summer. This bill would prohibit any local government from interfering with a federally-licensed event on federal land. We strongly support this concept because of the enormous positive economic impact that Burning Man attendees have on our region.”

Some of the problem stems from the fact that Burning Man is held just over a county line; all the on-the-way spending done by burners takes place in Washoe county, but once you turn off to head to the playa, you're in Pershing county, and that's also when the ban on (most) commerce begins. So the county doing the legislating has no real financial stake in the festival continuing. So the local law gets to screw the neighboring county, threatening its one of its major source of economic activity and win points with the voters by harassing hippies.

The Man vs. the Man: Will Local Authorities Be Booted From Burning Man? (Thanks, M Otis Beard!)


  1. I’m not fully aware of the scope of things, but just to play devil’s advocate…doesn’t it seem like the people who actually live there might deserve a voice in things?

    1. The big problem is that the regulations passed have nothing to do with protecting the community, and everything to do with arbitrary power grabs, or moral busybodies trying to interfere with someone else having a good time.

      As far as I can tell, this law does not restrict the enforcement of laws, abut is going more after the permitting requirements the local counties are trying to impose. After all, most people travel to Burning Man. The end point can change, even though the Black Rock Desert is a pretty special place. Petty-minded bureaucrats and small-town politicians have to learn that gooses that lay golden eggs can move…

      1. Yes, but “striking down unjust laws & regulations”– a thing I think everyone can agree on– isn’t the same as “you can’t make laws & regulations.”

        Anyhow, yes, it seems to me that a reasonable solution is in fact to move it; I can’t find fault with that logic at all.

        1. RTFA.  Burning Man did not ask for this legislation, the legislation came in response to BM talking about moving it onto reservation land to avoid this kind of problem.  

          If you must wring your hands about the rights of rural, holier-than-thou douche bags, please at least do so with an understanding of actual situation. 

          1. For somebody jumping in with RTFM comments, did you read the rest of the thread where I’m like “unjust legislation is bad, I’m just not sure that removing the ability to legislate is the answer” or did you just want to join the dogpile?

          2. I did actually read the whole thread, and frankly I would have been nicer to you if I hadn’t read it. 

            You are trying to defend the right of a county to enact rules targeted specifically at an event that has no meaningful impact on any resident or community in that county, simply because “they don’t like it”.

            You are wringing your hands about the rights of one group ( residents ) to interfere in the lives and goals of another group ( burners ) for no other reason than that they do not approve. 

            Burners do not consume county resources – not power, not sewage, not law enforcement, not medical care.  They do not do ecological damage as defined in any statute or rule, and do not directly effect the property or experience of ANY resident of that county … as pointed out elsewhere, the nearest communities are actually in a DIFFERENT county. 

            The county shoulders no burden other than the knowledge that a bunch of hippies and hipsters are doing “unspeakable” – yet totally legal -things within the technical boundaries of their county.

            So as I said above, NO, the residents and administrators of the county DO NOT and SHOULD NOT have any say regarding the activities of a federally permitted event held on federal land.  

            Your argument carries no weight and no validity unless or until you can show burden, cost or harm to the county or its residents. 


            [Edit] And even if you can cite burden, keep in mind that the legislation should have to speak DIRECTLY to mitigating or compensating that burden.

          3. I don’t think your reading comprehension is actually that great; mostly I was questioning whether solving the problem of unjust laws by taking away the ability of the local government to make any laws is the best solution. It seems, however, much easier to paint me as some kind of Puritanical War on Drugs anti-Burning Man with LOTS OF CAPS to emphasize just how silly that scarecrow is.

            You are trying to defend the right of a county to enact rules targeted specifically at an event that has no meaningful impact on any resident or community in that county, simply because “they don’t like it”.

            No; I’m defending the right of the community to ENACT RULES. Not to enact unjust rules. You continue to argue that unjust laws are bad; I have already axiomatically agreed that unjust laws are bad. Yet here you are absolutely doing A STUNNING JOB of arguing that UNJUST LAWS are a BAD THING. Yes, I agree. I’m not sure that by-passing local governments is the best solution to that, by which– let me shortcut the next bit of straw man– I’m not advocating some kind of “state’s rights” issue, either.

            Anyhow, the tone of this thread is surprisingly uncivil, is I guess my point, & I’m done participating in it.

          4. I don’t think your reading comprehension is actually that great; mostly I was questioning whether solving the problem of unjust laws by taking away the ability of the local government to make any laws is the best solution.

            RBAY. What is the meaning of “local government” in a place that has no people?

          5. Actually, they aren’t doing totally legal things. There is plenty that goes on at BM that isn’t legal in Nevada. I don’t particularly have a problem with most of the activities themselves – I’m more concerned about the cultural and social impact on the local community. But don’t tell me that everything at BM is legal. If it was, downtown Reno would be a lot different.

          6. @boingboing-ec9f3c8c9e41bfa0db652ee1f8b36c30:disqus :  We’ll ignore the problem of victimless crimes and consenting adults for a moment.
            Certainly, illegal things happen at BM, but I fail to see how that makes a case against it.  Drug use is at least as prevalent at any major multi-day music festival, and it’s likely that property and violent crime is actually less common given the self selecting population and the relative isolation fending off opportunistic criminals.  

            Further, people doing illegal things 50 miles,  away from you – once a year – for a week – that hurt no one – cannot reasonably be said to be “damaging” to your community. 

            And honestly, if entitled, self centered out-of-towners driving through your town and patronizing your businesses once a year is honestly your most substantive complaint, then I have to say “suck it up, cupcake”.  You’ll get little sympathy here. I live in Dallas, and I have to put up with narrow minded, self righteous faux Christians, racist rednecks AND rich, overly entitled douche bags on a daily basis… and they all have just as much right to be here, and do their thing as I do.

          7. Maybe I should understand your case better before I make a full reply, because so far you’ve been a bit all over the map. At one point burners are doing legal things, then they’re doing illegal things but it doesn’t matter. Above, you’re poking at rural holier-than-thou douche bags – then you’re making a case for them having the same right to do their thing as you. So, honestly, not sure where you’re going other than making a fuss.

            As far as the county is concerned, you’re right, burners have no impact. They also have no contribution. They’re a zero entity, and since they don’t live there they don’t vote and have no say. That’s kinda how the governmental system works. So if Pershing county wants to regulate it more, why shouldn’t they?

            As far as whether the laws in question are right or wrong, you and I very likely agree regarding situations of victimless crimes and consenting adults. That doesn’t mean that if I decide to walk through Dallas stark naked smoking a joint that I won’t get in trouble, I’m pretty sure. So your community seems to be able to enforce its rules, whether you and I agree with them or not…why not in Nevada? The fact that something happens in the middle of the desert doesn’t affect its legal standing.

          8. 1.  Douchebags: You complain exceedingly non-specifically about how the burners “impact” you and the people in the county.  This is the heart of my problem.  If you have specific complaints that merit ordnances or government harassment, please state them.  If not, then my statement stands – Suck it up.  I can’t expect you to pretend to like them, but the burners have as much right to be there as you do, and not treating locals politely it is not an excuse to pass laws that target them specifically and unfairly. 

            I have to put up with people I detest here every day, not just one week a year – and I have to put up with far more of them.  I cannot try to pass hostile ordnances that target them specifically and unfairly to keep them away because that is wrong.  If I can put up with hundreds of thousands of them 52 weeks a year, you can put up with a few thousand ONE week a year.  Living in a small/rural community is not license to use the law to enforce your personal agenda. 

            2.  Legal/Illegal:  I was speaking to complaints elsewhere in the thread… and again  I cannot respond to you in detail because you have not made any substantive claims agains them beyond burners being weird, and being rude. As elsewhere, neither of these are grounds for punitive regulation.
            My point was this.  Most of what they do out there is completely legal, and what illegal activities they do get up to are largely victimless, and likely less damaging than at many other events. I commented on it because I cannot understand how whatever illegalities they may get up to could to could have any meaningful impact on any community in the vicinity.

            3.  Since the Playa is federally administrated land, and the permits required are federal, that means the county doesn’t get to stick its nose into the event.  You said that burners dont get a say in local politics because they have no stake in local life.  That’s fair, but by the same logic, local administrators shoulder neither responsibility nor cost for the event, they are not stewards of the land its held on, nor responsible for any costs incurred or damage done.  They already have the right to enforce existing laws, protect public safety and extract revenue by patrolling the roads away from the event, and  they have no stake in the event itself… so why should they get special dispensation to interfere?  

            4.  Stark naked and smoking a joint… I think we mostly agree here, but your analogy is flawed.  If you walk through downtown Dallas, then yes, you will ( and you probably should ) have many problems with DPD.  However, if you did it out in Big Bend national park, 125 miles from civilization, surrounded by like minded people, then odds are you would be left alone.  That is a much more germane comparison for the conversation at hand. 

          9. Wow. You really hate Dallas. 

            I was working on a more specific answer (see my other reply to you) but I don’t seem to have as much time as you to talk about this.

            In any case, my only point in this particular thread of the conversation was that Burners activities aren’t particularly legal. Somehow I guess we’re agreeing on that.

            I don’t care whether the Feds or the locals police the event, and I don’t really care what goes on there. In the same way, I doubt that most locals care what someone on the internet thinks about the laws we pass. There are plenty of laws in Texas that I don’t like. Like you said, suck it up.

            Or start a petition to move it to Big Bend.

          10. For the sake of consolidation,I’m going to respond to a number of things here covered in other parts of the thread.1.  Battleborn:Thank you for laying out real, substantive concerns. That makes it possible to have a conversation.  I grew up in the deep south, and vague, unspecified complaints about “undesirables” in local politics are often nothing more than code for “damn hippies/hispanics/blacks”.  I generally expect better from the denizens of boing boing, but people that appear to be dancing around such   questions immediately raise my hackles.  I apologize for rushing to judgement. My first question is this.  The county certainly has the right to step up traffic enforcement during and after the festival, and that should provide a significant windfall to help offset the cleanup costs.  Is that not the case?My second question is, are the regulations that sparked this law actually designed to mitigate the cleanup costs for these complaints, or simply to make it burdensome enough for organizers and participants that they will leave.  In theory, it can be difficult to tell, but in practice, it’s usually pretty clear which it is. 2:Mordicai:This law is only being considered because of complaints of punitive actions already enacted/attempted by county governance.  This is not a law to prevent theoretical future malfeasance, it is to address things that have already happened.  If there were no allegedly punitive measures, there would be no debate, and no state law in the offing.  You are waving your hands over theoretical concerns, The rest of us are debating solutions to ( alleged ) actual abuse.   If you want to discuss whether the regulations in question are actually abusive, whether they merit a state laws stripping the county authority, we can have that conversation, but you aren’t making that argument. Yes, local government should have a say in how things go down – right up until the moment they abuse that power.As for fighting such unjust regulations in the courts, that is a fine solution, but it is expensive and takes time.  It is a time honored tactic in local politics to force “undesirables” out by passing small but burdensome regulations, forcing the targets to fight it out in court, then, when they lose, passing another, and another and another.  The “undesirables” must either expend time and money fighting each one over and over again, or take the easy way out and leave.  There are a sizable lobby that believe that is what is happening to BM.  If that is the case, then the proper action is indeed to enjoin the county from continuing to do so.3.  Dallas isn’t a bad town.  It has its flaws, and it definitely is not as alt friendly as most other major cities, but it has some really great people and neighborhoods… However, with 11M people in the metroplex, in the bible belt, in Texas, there will always be a sizable collection of distasteful people to contend with.  

          11. Shane, glad we were able to reach an understanding on the definition of the issues at stame. 

            As far as NV counties legislating undesirables, not saying that it doesn’t or couldn’t happen – but overall I find Nevadans to be a pretty accepting bunch. Plenty of notable exceptions to that, as with any mass generalization. But the fact that BM takes place here at all says a lot.

            It’s actually counties plural that are at issue here – BM takes place in Pershing County, but in order to get to it you go through Washoe County. Like most of Nevada, these are small communities and this is why law enforcement branches have worked together to make BM happen in the past. The town of Nixon, for example, has a population of less than 400. Obviously they need some help to cope with 50,000 people rolling through town.

            I haven’t seen an impartial analysis of the costs in question (ie, not from a burner and not from Pershing county). I don’t know whether Pershing County provides services at the request of the BLM or Burning Man itself or just because the event is in Pershing County. I do know that it’s usually a joint effort between the BLM, Washoe, and Pershing County to make the whole thing happen. And usually it’s cheaper to use resources nearby. If the BLM/Feds have to truck in their own folks from all over the place, you can bet that there will be extra costs. So I don’t see what this bill accomplishes for BM, and I don’t see what it accomplishes from a local perspective either…but maybe that’s just because of the inherently emotional nature of any conversation about the actual nuts and bolts of BM.  If an impartial study exists, I’d like to see it.

          12. Just a heads up, those “holier-than-thou douche bags” do have computers, and do read things on the internet, in fact they are probably more likely to when it is about them.

            Might I suggest you take a more respectful tact in the hope they return the favor?  With talk like yours is it any wonder those “holier-than-thou douche bags” feel disrespected by the Burning Man community as a whole, even though it’s just one holier-than-thou burner douche saying it?

    2. These are simply people who live nearby (but no so close the celebration actually effects them in any way). Why SHOULD they deserve a voice in things? Should your neighbour deserve a say in what you eat for breakfast or be able to charge you for repainting your kitchen or decide you aren’t allowed to do anything in the privacy of your bedroom but sleep?

      After all, you DO live in their neighbourhood, right? So don’t they deserve a say in this things?

      Now, if they had actual concerns of their own that were being addressed, sure, maybe (Similar to your neighbour if you’re playing incredibly loud music). But I don’t think malice and greed are legitimate justifications.

      1. Except Burning Man isn’t a neighbor, it is an event. Which undercuts your analogy. Frankly, motive & justification don’t really matter much to me; what matters is justice & consequence. Certainly, some of these statues & regulations seem unjust; it seems that denying the people who live there a voice is also unjust. Two wrongs don’t make a right & all that.

        1. The point is that they DON’T live there.  None of these people live inside of Burning Man.  What happens inside of Burning Man has fuck all to do with their lives.  The event happens in a freaking desert as far from human civilization for the very specific reason of getting away from moralizing douche bags and letting people be free for a few days.  It is sad that a few people who happen to technically be within some legal jurisdiction seem intent to found these folks even in the middle of a fucking desert.

          1. See, I dunno, if I had some people coming into my county calling me a moralizing douche bag & acting as though they were entitled to do whatever they want, I’d be a little annoyed too. Not to say that the unjust legislation is…well, just. But the attitude of being above the law doesn’t jive with me, particularly. Nor does like, an immediately combative tone in response to conversation. I’m whacky like that.

          2.  So, basically, you sympathize with the neighbour who thinks he has the right to control whatever I do in my own home simply because I live in his neighborhood, whether it has any impact on him or not, because you might not personally approve of my attitude or views on life?

            Because it’s one thing to act like your above the law. It’s another to respond poorly to laws being passed explicitly to discriminate against YOU, that are unlikely to effect the people passing the laws, and that you have no say in.

            No one lives there. These are, at BEST, neighbours.

          3. Lets be clear, burning man is on FEDERAL land, and so far from any of these supposed “neighbors” that they can’t even see the glow of the man burning. 

            In short answer to your question, NO, these “neighbors” don’t get to prevent or harass strangers simply because they are doing something they are LEGALLY ENTITLED AND PERMITTED TO DO simply because they don’t like them or think they are rude. 

            The rules exist for a reason.  We don’t get to harass or abuse Westboro Baptist Church either, for all of the same reasons… and unlike the burners, they actually DO nasty and offensive things where they can really effect “other people” who don’t choose to be part of the festival. 

          4. See, you are the one making an actual point– Burning Man is on Federal land, huh? Then it would make sense to have Fed regulations– but jeez everyone on this thread sure is a total jerk about it.

          5. See, I dunno, if I had some people coming into my county calling me a moralizing douche bag & acting as though they were entitled to do whatever they want, I’d be a little annoyed too.

            You are entitled to do what you want unless there’s a law against it. And if the law restricts you for no good reason, it may not stand up in court. You’ve got a real Puritan thing going on there.

          6. Well it seems like, rather than go to court, they’re end running around it. Though hey, I mean– if calling me Puritan because I wonder whether denying the locals the ability to self govern helps undercut my question, then it must be a valid rhetorical trick & not just a bit of ad hom. Lots of name calling going on, seems really cool. I’m a real Hitler, with my whole doesn’t it seem like the people who actually live there might deserve a voice in things? idea. What a monster.

          7. They are inside of an arbitrary line drawn by the government a hundred years ago. There is no one out there.  The neighbors are not effected.  It is in the middle of a fucking desert.  

            The people going there have no opinion on the residents who live inside the arbitrary line drawn by a government except when said residents decide to use the force of the state to harasses them.  When people stick use coercion and abuse on people minding their own business, THAT is the point that they think that their harassers are acting like moralizing douche bags.

            Claiming that people being pissed about being harassed is a reason to harass them is like saying it is okay to beat a guy for defending himself when he someone decides to beat him.  

            Don’t harass people minding their own business as far from humans as they can possibly get and they won’t think  you are an asshole.  It is pretty simple.

          8. Well, elsewhere in the thread someone was saying that that arbitrary line is Federal land, which would actually make this whole thing make a lot more sense. Is it cool to draw arbitrary lines now? But hey, you seem to be unable to distinguish between me trying to have a conversation about this & the people doing the harassing, so I don’t think this is a useful discourse.

          9. “See, I dunno, if I had some people coming into my county calling me a moralizing douche bag & acting as though they were entitled to do whatever they want, I’d be a little annoyed too.”

            As a Nevada native, I second this. People who go to BM all act like they’re doing us some favor by coming here. Among the people who actually live here and spend time in the desert the rest of the year, this isn’t particularly appreciated.

            If ‘Burners’ want to have a say in the municipality governing their event, maybe they should have it in their back yard rather than mine.

            I don’t have a problem with the Feds doing the oversight (it is on BLM land, isn’t it?). I don’t have a problem with the county doing it. And I certainly don’t have a problem if BM decides to move somewhere else. Most of us Nevadans would be pretty happy about that, actually.

          10. Not that it has anything to do with the topic at hand, but Nevada has a secession movement. I don’t support it, and am not sure why you brought it up, but please don’t assume that just because I don’t go to or support Burning Man that you know all about my other political beliefs. The fact that I’m not a burner doesn’t make me a hillbilly.

          11. The point is that Nevada is not a sovereign nation with a fortified border. If you don’t want outsiders coming from other states, leave the union.

          12. “The point is that Nevada is not a sovereign nation with a fortified border. If you don’t want outsiders coming from other states, leave the union.”

            Interesting! You perhaps are more of a secessionist than I am though.

            I never said that I didn’t want outsiders coming in from other states, or that Nevada was a sovereign nation…I was simply making the case that those who live in a community do have a certain amount of say in what goes on there and how much support or regulation we give to events within our borders.

            Your case seems to be simply that because thousands of people drive across the Nevada border, they should be allowed to do whatever they want.

            Not very well thought out, unless you’re for anarchism…in which case I suggest you secede from the Union.

          13. Nevada is not a community. It’s a vast stretch of desert with a few population centers. I fail to see why a few onion-belts in the population centers should control what happens in the vast stretches of desert.

          14. “Nevada is not a community.”

            And like another commenter said, people don’t live in Northern Nevada. 

            Well, now we get down to the root of your case. Not surprised, just expected more from you personally having been a reader of this site for years. I know better than to argue with moderators for this long on sites that I enjoy reading, and I’m sure that your compassionate, creative Burning Man friends will all support your viewpoint. But I will say the following, and then I’m done.

            No idea where you’re located, but by your reasoning any state that has any space isn’t a community.

            Thanks. We work hard in Nevada for our open spaces. Glad to know that the work of my community is appreciated by yours.

            I won’t go so far as to say Burning Man isn’t a community. But the respect that I have for your little community is largely based on the respect (or lack thereof) that you have for mine.

        2. You ought to look at a map. The nearest community to the BM site, Gerlach, is in Washoe county and lacks any influence over the nonsense from Pershing Co. There is no other significant human habitation for miles and miles. Pershing Co.’s power over BM is an accident of the drawing of boundary lines before anyone lived up there, not a product of any actual proximity.

          The fact is that Pershing Co has consistently abused its power wrt BM to the detriment of real stakeholders, and therefore deserves to lose it.

        1. It works in fact.  Every year the BLM checks for moop and Burning Man passes the tests without any issues.  One of the most consistently successful large scale event productions in the world.

        2. So I take it that you have no actual idea how it works in practice since you’ve never been there, don’t know what the local landscape is like or where people actually live.

          1. So I take it that you have no actual idea how it works in practice since you only spend one week of the year in Nevada at the gated community of Burning Man and have no idea what the local landscape is like, what the local people are like, or where they actually live and spend their time. 

          2.  An evasion isn’t actually an answer.

            Unlike you, it seems, my family has spent a large chunk of the last 50 years in Nevada.

            Try again but maybe give a real answer.

          3. Sorry for jumping to conclusions – I saw nothing to indicate that you do more than go to BM as far as Nevada is concerned. Apparently I was incorrect.

            FWIW, I’ve spent my entire life in Nevada and have seen the positive (yes, there are some) and the negative impacts of BM from a local’s perspective. I’m not a fan, obviously. 

            Since my answer pretty much paraphrased yours…in regards to your original reply, try again but maybe give a real answer.

    3. Pretty sure that would be precisely no one, aside from the temporary encampment that is Burning Man itself.

    4. …doesn’t it seem like the people who actually live there might deserve a voice in things?

      The things associated with Burning Man which actually affect them in some way, sure. The things that happen within the confines of an event that they are not personally participating in, not really. (Or at least not any more than any other American deserves a voice in such things.)

      1. I agree with this 100%.  The event is on federal land, is fenced off, requires a ticket, and the excessive law enforcement presence is completely unwarranted. 

      1. I live in northern Nevada. But your viewpoint echoes that of most burners that I’ve met.

        1. Do you have any specific grievances against Burning Man?  So far the most I can get out of your comments is: “I’m from Nevada and these folks ain’t.”

          Which is pretty telling in itself.

      2. Why would you even say something like that?

        Northern Nevada, while rural, does have people living in it who are very happy to live there, who love it for their own reasons. And by saying something like that you shit on them.The thing is, had I not been to Burning Man 9 times over the last decade I too might have made a similar claim.  But because of my travels through their communities to and from the event I’ve gotten a chance to see rural desert life, which honestly, is attractive in it’s own ways.Battleborn, thank you for contributing on this thread.  I think perhaps you are not seeing “the whole picture” when it comes to economic impact, but neither am I as an outsider.  

        1. Why would you even say something like that?


          My dad’s from Reno, plus my sister and I have lived in Vegas so it’s family tradition to rag on the area. If that offends you, don’t get us started on Idaho.

  2. The full article presents some quotes that seem much more balanced (doesn’t mean they’re right) than the snippet or commentary:

    “AB 374 began life as a different bill, introduced by Nevada Senator Pete Goicoechea and State Assemblyman John Ellison, intended to allow grazing in Federal fire restoration areas as a means of limiting the growth of cheat grass, which creates repeat fire hazards.” … “As AB 374 has gained support, the authors of the original bill have moved to distance themselves from it, and now openly oppose it.”

    ““If you have an outdoor activity on public lands of over 1,000 people, then the county has no involvement or enforcement on that activity at all,” said Goicoechea. “It all goes to the Feds. We’re not prepared or ready to let our police powers go. Technically they’d be on the hook for all the emergency services but wouldn’t have the ability to enforce any of their laws or public safeties.”

    1. The emergency services argument is choice, especially since the medical and fire is taken care of by Burning Man, and the onsite hospital is staffed from Reno. Given that the vast majority of the actual load on the county infrastructure is from the traffic to and from the event (which is a major revenue opportunity for speeding tickets) and that that would not be covered by this bill, it’s kind of a silly point to be making.

      However, it means that local criminal defense attorneys don’t make as much money when it’s all handeld in a Federal court instead of county court. Which, of course, has nothing to do with the objections being raised.

  3. Oh, darn. And here I was hoping when I’d read the teaser that the NV state legislature was going to step in and kick the festival out entirely. Because during that two weeks, the rest of America suffers from a serious, terrible deficit of self-absorbed wankers: Birmingham and Memphis just aren’t the same without that 30-something man with dreadlocks and faerie wings!

    1.  Nice try, but there’s never a shortage of self-absorbed wankers. Anywhere. Anytime. Ever!

    2. Because during that two weeks, the rest of America suffers from a serious, terrible deficit of self-absorbed wankers

      …said the self absorbed wanker.

    3. Maybe you should start a Fulminating Man™ festival so that you can get away from other people’s upsetting hairdos.

    4. Hahaha! These replies are hilarious!

      Burning Man (I’ve been told) is a living expression of freedom that accepts all viewpoints. As long as you like Burning Man. 

      1. Well, why would you go if you don’t like it? Seems a bit silly to me to make that long trip to do something you won’t like.

        If it ain’t getting in your way, and it ain’t hurting you, why worry?

        1. I think you missed my point. 

          But to answer the questions you brought up, I don’t go… but the impact that BM has on my community is quite evident. Sorry if the fact that non-BM devotees having opinions is inconvenient, but so it goes…

          1. If you are a local, then please share with us the impact that BM has on your community.  

            While it may be self evident to you, it is not at all clear to those of us who do not live there, and do not attend the event.  

            Many people here and elsewhere are more likely to be sympathetic to your complaints if they are actual, concrete complaints.  Thus far, in this thread and others, no one has chosen to ( or maybe been able to ) articulate any real, specific complaints or concerns beyond “I don’t like hippies driving through my county”… which is not a real complaint. 

          2. A short and hopefully objective list of pros and cons to BM from a local’s perspective:

            Pros – Local head shops sell a ton of fuzzy hats and other swag leading up to the event.

            – Local businesses certainly do make money on burners passing through.

            – There have been some contributions to the local arts community as far as sculptures in Reno and exhibits at the NMA. 


            – All that trash that gets cleaned up at Burning Man gets dumped all over Sparks on their way back. Seriously – it’s not a pretty sight.

            – Our highways and roads are snarled for days with smoke belching RVs and art cars. You want to talk environmental impact and how clean your event is? 50,000 plus people driving huge vehicles has an impact.

            – Our highways and roads are snarled for days with people who are impaired in one way or another and cause accidents. Sometimes people get killed. Sometimes they just crash into the Reno arch and skip the country.

            With that said, any community will consider the resources that they expend in order to have an event, and there’s a definite cost to local infrastructure to have 50,000 people passing through. Some of my fellow locals feel that all this is worth it. I don’t. Does this mean there should be laws prohibiting RVs from being driven? Hell no! But it does mean that we as a community (Northern NV in general) have to decide how we manage such an event so that it works for everyone.

            The overall sentiment in this entire thread seems to be that nobody lives in north Nevada, and if they do, their opinions don’t matter, and they certainly shouldn’t try to enforce any of their laws or community guidelines while you all visit. All I have to say about that is that respect gets respect.

          3. Battleborn: You make a good point about the trash left all over the place. We have volunteer crews who go behind and pick up after the people leaving, but it’s not perfect. People don’t tie down trash bags, go too fast, etc, etc, etc. We do try to mitigate the impact as much as possible, but it takes several weeks to clean up from Exodus.

            The traffic? Well, yeah, that can suck, but I’m used to traffic living in a city, so my perspective may be a bit skewed. Yes, people get in wrecks, and some of them die. We try to get as many warnings out to people leaving to make sure they’re rested and sober, but it’s impossible to enforce that on 50,000 people leaving in a 48 hour flood.

            I grant that for someone living in the area of a huge festival but not participating, it can be an annoyance. I live right on a major parade route in my city, and several times a year, I can’t go anywhere for a full day because all the streets are blocked off and there’s hundreds of people on my block watching the parade.

            It’s really annoying.

            But, the businesses in that same area do an insane amount of sales during that time, so I don’t begrudge some disruption if it means my local restaurants and shops stay open.

          4. Ah, Antinous! You really know how to bring people together. I can see why you’re a moderator. However, since you’ve established in other threads that I and my fellow Nevada residents don’t exist (“Nevada is not a community”) I don’t see a need to give you a direct response as it’s recently come to my attention that I’m a figment of my own imagination. Cheers.

            Jim, it sounds like you’re involved with the actual ground work of making BM happen – is this the case? I’m involved in the production of several large community events (though nowhere near the scale of BM) and know how much work it is. Thanks for the civil reply.

            My main point is that Burning Man does have an impact, and that the communities affected have to make decisions on how to handle it. The same way that your city manages their parade – they’ve decided that it makes economic sense to go to all the effort and cost to make it happen. That isn’t a bad conversation for a community to have, since with the exception of Antinous (who obviously levitates to the middle of the Black Rock desert and neither sees nor disturbs nor interacts with a single soul for the duration of his stay), most people need some help to get there.

            Like you said, it’s impossible to enforce some rules, like reasonable sobriety to drive, on 50,000 people. It’s also possible that the economic and social benefits of said event don’t balance out the costs to the community of making it happen. These decisions are made about plenty of other local events; BM is no different.

          5. I do volunteer work at Burning Man, not in the teams that clean up, but I know a lot about them.

            The honest thing is, we would understand reasonable rules about land use and about public safety. Heck, we warn people about the dangers all the time, and things still happen.

            The crux of the problem is that the county trying to impose larger and larger fees on the event is not the county that sees the impact from the traffic, and I seriously doubt that they would just share those fees with their neighbors out of the goodness of their heart. Maybe Nevada county officials are cut of a more honest cloth than everywhere else, but that’s a bit of a stretch.

            To be honest, the traffic from Burning Man has kept the roads up to date, guaranteed a bonanza for auto shops, wreckers, and gas stations in the area, and spawned a few cottage industries dedicated to it. It’s not the same kind of economic boost that getting the Empire gypsum plant back in operation would be, or of having someone else move in with a similar high-labor factory, but it is money.

            If this was a simple ‘yes’/’no’ vote put up by the county officials as to whether they allow the event at all or not, they’d lose. Too many people make too much money off the event for it to be any other way. All they can do is make these petty rules changes in the hopes they can drive the event off or get more of that mythical millions of dollars the event rakes in.

            And yeah, there are a lot of people for whom Burning Man is a special place – a lot of us call it Home. With capitalization. And when someone threatens it, we get very aggressive in defending it. There’s no reason to get rude, though…

            The issues that Burning Man brings to the table for the people in the area are thorny, and because it’s a very rural area, there’s not a lot of representation of the desires of the people in the area in state government. As someone who has lived in similar rural areas (although on the East Coast) I’m pretty familiar with the sensation of having the state government override local objections like they don’t exist.

            Don’t know the answers to this one. To be honest, the economic impact isn’t stellar for most people in the region – agriculture sees no benefit from it, for example. So, for those people, minimizing the irritation from the event is the best we can promise…

          6. “The crux of the problem is that the county trying to impose larger and larger fees on the event is not the county that sees the impact from the traffic…”

            Agreed. But as I posted above, I haven’t seen an impartial analysis of the costs in question (ie, not from a burner and not from Pershing county). I don’t know whether Pershing County provides services at the request of the BLM or Burning Man itself or just because the event is in Pershing County. I do know that it’s usually a joint effort between the BLM, Washoe, and Pershing County to make the whole thing happen. And usually it’s cheaper to use resources nearby. If the BLM/Feds have to truck in their own folks from all over the place, you can bet that there will be extra costs. So I don’t see what this bill accomplishes for BM, and I don’t see what it accomplishes from a local perspective either…but maybe that’s just because of the inherently emotional nature of any conversation about the actual nuts and bolts of BM.

            I’m not sure how the traffic from BM has kept the roads up to date – there’s a lot of remote highway in NV, and when it gets worn to a certain point it gets replaced. Any extra repairs made by the fuel tax you pay are certainly balanced out by the extra repairs needed. A truly minor point, though, in the scheme of things. And you’re right, it’s a field day for local business. A town or business that makes all of its money one week of the year can’t actually be an example of a healthy economy, though.

            Not sure about your yes/no vote example, but it’s already been determined that is up to the BLM so it’s a moot point. What I will say is that BM has grown a lot, and extra fees might be perfectly fair or they might be bogus. Expecting the overall cost of the event to remain the same year after year even though it contains thousands more people isn’t realistic.

            “And yeah, there are a lot of people for whom Burning Man is a special place – a lot of us call it Home. With capitalization. And when someone threatens it, we get very aggressive in defending it. There’s no reason to get rude, though…”

            Well, although I don’t capitalize home unless it’s at the beginning of a sentence, I think you and I can get past that! I call the Nevada desert home the rest of the year, so I know the feeling. I do appreciate your civility…it is unfortunately not the norm.

            Your analysis of the rural issues is spot on, as is your closing paragraph.

  4. And let the games begin.  This kind of political power struggle will go on for years, if not decades.  The organizers should move it to the native land now and eliminate the never-ending uncertainty in their logistics (vs the certainty in the politics).

    1. Trust me, there’s always a possibility of abuse from the Tribal Council.  We had a real problem here when a major freeway went in through some Native land, they were attempting to patrol it for revenue generation in a way that made it particularly unsafe (ever watch a patrol car lazily cross four lanes of traffic at 40mph in a 65 zone without its lights on?) and it took an arrest to get that fixed…

      1. Sounds like the non-natives in the area were facing a real struggle.

        Comments mysteriously deleted….ok…

  5. Where is the part about keeping naked men away from children?  That doesn’t sound so outrageous to me. 

    1. Contrary to popular belief, exposure to non-sexual nudity isn’t something that typically scars a child for life. Besides, if it was illegal for me to be naked in the vicinity of a child I’d never even be able to take a shower at home.

      1. What *is* it with Americans and nudity? It seems way more unhealthy to me that we socialize the idea that ALL nudity is inherently sexual.

    2. Then don’t bring children to an event like this.

      Not everywhere in the world needs to be family-friendly.


  6. TEITD has relocated several times, I think another relocation would be a much better approach than federalizing it. Just think, if the event is federalized, then those regulations could follow it wherever it goes.

  7. They didn’t accept the invitation from the tribe? That seems odd. I would trust the tribes more than the feds.

    1. Maybe.  I don’t know about the Paiute in particular, but some of the tribal governments in the NW are notoriously difficult to deal with. (I’m not speaking from personal experience, but going on what I’ve been told by members of the tribes in question who have run afoul of the tribal governments in the course of their efforts to do things like preserve their ancestral languages.)

      1. I don’t know about dealing with tribes. The trouble with the white man’s government is that we give lip service to freedom until somebody does something actually free. Then we start saying “Uh oh, we gotta put a stop to that!”

      2. This is all about money and prudish morality(?)  The county values prudishness over income generated by the event.  The tribe and proposed state law would be valuing the money over prudishness.

  8. So once the Feds take over BM will likely be flooded by DEA which will mark the end of BM. 
    Because Acid is what you need to mentally survive all the *cough* creativity there. 

  9. I’m not familiar with the local legislation issue, but from my own direct, painful, and unprovoked experience, of all the law enforcement groups present at Burning Man, the federal Bureau of Land Management officers are the greatest danger to the participants and to the spirit of the event.

    Because I asked to roll up my window before exiting my vehicle, I got yanked out, thrown to the ground, wrist-cuffed, illegally detained, had my car illegally searched and all the bags emptied and strewn about, and got false charges filed against me with blatant lies that contradicted 20 witness statements, two witness videos, and my own account written up right afterwards. Thankfully I’m sober and never transport illegal substances, and could afford a lawyer; and got a judge who was far less biased and reactionary than the officers that roughed me up.

    I spent the second half of that burn week hearing other people’s stories about ridiculous escalation and abuse by the BLM, including stories from Black Rock Rangers, and accounts, for what it’s worth, that local law enforcement were all pissed at BLM for going way beyond protecting the peace and picking up some $ from citations.

  10. I’m a native Nevadan, it is kind of a weak argument to complain about influenced driving of tourists, etc, especially when Nevada’s biggest money maker is to invite people in to get loaded up, gamble, and leave, you know, tour. Battleborn’s real complaint is that burners arent sticking to normal tourist areas and patterns. I guess he doesnt see the value added of a group of tourists coming in and making/finding their own fun in the interior of Nevada. That’s money on top of whatever the main tourism draws already bring in. If it’s ten dollars, or hundreds of thousands, it’s clearly a net win for the state. Where do you even live? Are you a Renoite concern trolling for Pershing County? For the record, Ive never been to BM, not my bag, but I think it is ridiculously cool. But nothing is cool enough to make me want to camp the desert in the summer. At this age I flee summer as it is.

  11. BLM agents are dicks. But in fairness there is a history of them getting shot at and bombed in Nevada.

    The organizers should always threaten to move it, every year, that’s how you get the best deal, ask any sports team owner.

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