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Tyranny by a thousand cuts

July 14, 2011

Conservatives call modern America the Nanny-state, but a better name is Whiny-baby-state. The word "nanny" implies some kind of mother figure keeping people safe until they grow up, but that's not really the case, is it?

We're already adults – at least we're supposed to be – and the rules that cut into our freedom are rules we demand ourselves. They're not imposed by any sort of nanny. No matter what silly, asinine, over-protective, dumb-ass law the government passes, long before that point there was a loud, shrill, self-righteous group of Americans begging for it.

Thanks to the whiny-babies among us, we're losing our freedom one tiny slice at a time.

Here in Nevada, for instance, the legislature was under pressure trying to pass a budget before the end of the session on June 7, 2011, which was no easy task given our worst-economy-in-the-country status, but somehow, in spite of the desperate state of the state's finances and the looming deadline, the legislature managed to find time to outlaw cell phone use in cars and pass three laws outlawing discrimination against transgendered and gender non-conforming individuals.

I'm not one hundred percent sure what "transgendered" means, and have no clue what "gender non-conforming" means, but based on my observation of the gaggle of individuals shrieking about their need for the new laws in May and June, these are people who are unhappy with themselves but get irritated by the notion that anybody else is unhappy with them.

So thanks to Senate Bill 331 and Senate Bill 338, a Nevadan can refuse to rent the other half of his duplex to a musician or a Republican or a man who wears Izod polo shirts, or just because he doesn't like someone, but he can no longer refuse to rent to a hairy six-foot-five-inch former Marine drill sergeant who wears dresses. The government forbids it.

And thanks to Assembly Bill 211, after the ex-Marine moves into the duplex, he or she can nab a job as a Hooters waitress whether Hooters is enthusiastic about the idea or not. Welcome to the brave new world designed by whiny-babies and special-interest-butt-kissing legislators.

Loudest whiner gets to write the laws.

The cell phone prohibitions have been tried all over the country and the statistics are clear: outlawing cell phone use in automobiles has zero effect on accident rates or fatality rates, which have been trending downward for decades while cell phone use has been trending upward. The only thing cell phone laws affect is the number of men who get in trouble because they can’t call their wives when they’re stuck in traffic. In spite of the statistics proving that the law is stupid, Nevada legislators endured a full-court press from self-righteous lobbyists like Oprah Winfrey’s No Phone Zone campaign (What does she care? She has a secretary and a chauffeur!), and the U.S. Department of Transportation, and the Nevada Department of Transportation, and the Nevada Department of Public Safety, and the Federal Communications Commission... ever notice how often these whiny-baby laws are pushed and fought for by our own government employees? It's like the fox encouraging the residents of a chicken coop to pluck their own feathers, plus the chickens have to pay the fox a salary for his time.

Meanwhile, the only people speaking out against this crap – people like me – are left with corny statements like, “Hey, what about individual freedom?” Logical stuff like, “This law won’t have any effect on the accident rate anyway,” just drives the lobbyists into a hissy fit, whereupon the unctuous army of government employees and rich bastards reply, “But the law is worthwhile even if it only saves one life!”

The argument that core principles like freedom are worth more than safety is a difficult one, but we need to start making it, and much more effectively than we have been because the United States is close to being completely plucked.

Of the fifty states (or fifty nine states if you're Obama), only four are free of motorcycle helmet laws. Only one state lets you drive without a seat belt – New Hampshire, where the state motto is appropriately "Live free or die" – and even they have a seat belt law for people under eighteen. Most of the states – thirty two of them – have "primary" seat belt laws, which means the cops can pull you over and write you a ticket for no other reason than you dared to roll down the street without your seat belt fastened.
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." – Benjamin Franklin, February 17, 1775
There are good reasons to wear helmets and seat belts, but there are also good reasons not to wear them, and this used to be a country where people had the right to make their own decisions and pursue their own paths to happiness and fulfillment. It was a better country then, and I miss that America, when the whiny-babies weren't inserting themselves into every facet of our lives.

I can remember a judge in Rockford, Michigan, who refused to enforce Michigan's motorcycle helmet law because he thought it was unconstitutional. That seems like such a quaint and old-fashioned attitude now. It's like American blood has thinned and our DNA has been watered down until we no longer have the energy or gumption to fight back.

If you had told my grandfather that he was required to wear a seat belt he would have stood on the front seat of his Model T and steered with his foot while he drove past the police department. When my grandson is old enough to drive, I'm sure he'll accept the rule as a fait accompli. What happened to us?

My high school principal tried to stop me from leaving school one day, and I told him I was a free man, eighteen years old, and he wasn't a warden and Grand Rapids Central High School was not a prison, so I would go where I wanted. He threatened to call my mother, so I said, "Fine, I'll go with you and we'll make the call together." My mother, bless her heart, told the principal that I had a point. Nowadays, the high schools are patrolled with armed guards who won't let anybody in the hallways, let alone out of the building. What happened to us?

The government told us we had to buy auto insurance, regardless of whether we want it or need it – then, once we accepted that cut, they told us we had to buy health insurance. They told us we couldn't smoke in restaurants – then, once we accepted that cut, they told us we couldn't smoke in our workplaces, in public buildings, in public parks, on public sidewalks, and sometimes even in our own homes. In Nevada, like other states, they started out trying to outlaw texting while driving – then, with Oprah's money and government lobbying, they passed legislation outlawing any use of cell phones by drivers. They reduced the amount of alcohol we could have in our system while driving – then, once we were used to having a limit, they started lowering it. In airports, they told us to remove our shoes and prepare for random searches – then, after that slice from our constitutional rights, they started giving us strip searches, running us through X-ray machines, and feeling the crotches of our children and grandmothers.

Up in King County, Washington, the descendants of pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail, risking all they owned and their very lives to get there, are no longer allowed to swim unless they wear government-approved life jackets. Sadly, they don't chafe at this restriction. Whiny-baby busy-bodies wanted it, asked for it, defend it, and are eager to enforce it, because, gee willikers, without life jackets somebody might drown, dontcha know? (Read comments by Washington residents here, and here.)

One out of every ten pioneers who traveled the Oregon Trail died before reaching their new home. They forged raging rivers, fought off attacks from men and wild animals, dragged their homemade prairie schooners over mountains, and faced every kind of weather extreme Mother Nature could invent. Then when they finally arrived they had to clear wilderness land to build homes and farms. Today, their descendants stand at the side of the river, hot and thirsty but forbidden to enter, wallowing in their safety.

What the hell happened to us?


From Reno, Nevada, USA       

July 14, 2011 - Control comes in many colors of the rainbow..... Control freeks think they know what is best for me???? The government needs to concentrate on the issues of life and liberty not how that is personilly obtained only that it is what this country stands for. I want the freedom to live and die anyway I choose. - Lady Jay, Reno

July 14, 2011 - Loved this article. - Casey L., Michigan

July 14, 2011 - I guess we were thinking the same. Man, that's scary, but good. - Michael B., Michigan
J.P. replies: It is scary, and people should be frightened at the amount of freedom we've frittered away trying to be "safe" and politically correct.



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