Gypsy Challenges MoCo Fortunetelling Ban

He should know what the outcome will be, right?

By JIM NEWELL
|  Monday, Aug 17, 2009  |  Updated 6:15 PM EDT
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Gypsy Challenges MoCo Fortunetelling Ban

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She just came for the pink martini.

Oops, did we refer to him as a Gypsy? As the Washington Post tells us this morning, "Some descendants [of Gypsies] find the term and the stereotypes associated with it offensive." But not 40-year-old Nick Nefedro, who is happy to label himself a Gypsy, and is also suing Montgomery County.

Nefedro wants to work as a fortuneteller in Bethesda, but cannot due to a Montgomery County law that says, in the Post's words, "it is illegal to make money from forecasting the future." Somehow, this does not apply to most rich financial "experts" or political pundits living in Bethesda. One of these days, eh? Eh.

Nefedro denies that his magical practice involves any sort of fraud, which forms the basis of the ban:

But Nefedro, who says he is a Gypsy, is determined to change that. He has enlisted the American Civil Liberties Union in his year-long fight to overturn the law that calls his livelihood fraudulent. He argues that fortunetelling is part of his heritage and that prohibiting him from working as a fortuneteller amounts to discrimination.

But the comically named "Clifford Royalty," an authority on such matters as fraud, believes otherwise:

"I don't think it's strange for us to have laws that protect against fraud," said Clifford Royalty, zoning division chief in the Montgomery County attorney's office, adding that "religion has nothing to do with it. He's not made that allegation in the lawsuit."

"The practice is fraudulent," Royalty said, "because no one can forecast the future."

Perhaps a good compromise would be to keep fortunetelling legal and hope that most people aren't stupid enough to believe any of it.

Jim Newell writes for Wonkette and IvyGate.

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