Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Demand for Opinion to be Law

I thought I had seen it all, but of course there's something new everyday.

The lady, above, is British and holds the record for the most pierced person on the planet. She is getting married to the calm-looking older man, below, in the blue suit, tie and shirt.

What a world! I am glad there is no requirement that I have to marry this woman, although I do wonder if it might be an abridgement of my right to board an airplane if I happened to be stuck behind her at airport security!

I kid!  In all seriousness, I wish her and her new husband well.  Let freedom ring, and may her freak flag fly from the highest halyard.

Of course not everyone takes such an open-ended view about letting people go off in a different direction. 

In France, for example, there's a movement to ban Muslim women from wearing a burka even if they want to

Apparently, in France ladies have a right to wear a dental floss bathing suit with two postage stamps affixed to it, but they have no right to dress as they want, and never mind their own religious views or cultural traditions.

Of course authoritarianism is not limited to the French, nor is it limited to the political right or left.  I recently got an email from someone who was outraged that all but five of the Kennel Club's dog shows in 2011 did not charge an entrance fee.  It seems the Kennel Club managed to get around the law that bans docked dogs from being shown in venues that charge admission by charging a parking fee instead of an admissions fee.  Oh the horror! My friend proclaimed the Kennel Club work-around was a "complete mockery of the law."

A mockery of the law?  Nonsense.  The law was already a mockery, which is why so many people feel free to ignore it or openly work around it without penalty.

If you demand that laws be respected, then  pass laws that engender respect. In a world of dyed hair, tummy tucks, face lifts, nose jobs, breast augmentations, nipple piercings, and all-body tribal tattoos, a simple tail docking on a puppy might not pass the laugh test of concern!

Of course there is no convincing some people who are quite convinced that their own opinion on every matter should be bolstered by a change in law. 

Persuasion and education?  That takes too long.  Legislation is quicker and easier, especially if the opposition is small and weak.

Now, to be clear, I am no libertarian or anarchist rebel.  I believe in both taxes and public services, and I am a rather scrupulous observer of the law. 

That said, not every idiot law deserves to be saluted.  In my own home state of Virginia, for example, it's illegal to have sex with anyone to whom you are not married.  Really?  Are we going to lock up everyone?  No, of course, not.  The law is an arcane piece of nonsense and it is simply ignored, same as the law in Chester, England which says any Welshman caught within the city walls after sunset may be shot with a longbow.

But not all stupid laws are hundreds of years old; some are as fresh as this morning's coffee.  A case example is the Seattle law, passed this week, which makes it illegal to go swimming in the local river unless you are wearing a life vest.

Of course, if you are looking for stupid on stilts, it's always hard to beat San Francisco.

In San Francisco, the local Yellow Pages advertises genital piercings, but this very same city has just decided to put a ban on the circumcision of infants on the ballot.

Eh?  A ban on circumcision?  What on earth is that about? 

Surely, it's not just me that finds it a bit creepy that anyone is obsessed with the penises of other people's children?  

And then, of course, there are such matters as religious freedom, the right to privacy, and public health.  Are these concerns to be kicked to the curb with a never-mind?

Good enough for Jesus?

But, of course the absurdity does not stop there, does it? 

The latest is that San Francisco's City Council is moving to ban the sale of gold fish.  The City has already banned the sales of puppies and kittens in pet shops.  This ban was followed by a ban on the sale of:
  • hamsters
  • mice
  • rats
  • gerbils
  • guinea pigs
  • chinchillas
  • rabbits
  • all birds
  • all snakes
  • all lizards
  • all frogs
  • all turtles

At the moment, the pet store sale of ALL animals except fish is banned in San Francisco.

And now the push is on to ban all fish.

So is there good news?

Perhaps a little. San Francisco Supervisor Sean Elsbernd says "this is another animal welfare idea that will end up in the dustbin of history and go absolutely nowhere."


No doubt that same turn of phrase was uttered just before San Francisco's ban on hamster and mice sales was ushered into law.  

One thing is for certain: if this kind of nonsense is listed on the menu, it's already too close to the kitchen.

To be clear, the issues here are about more than what is happening in San Francisco. 

You see, if we are truly interested in animal or child welfare, we can no longer afford to stand silent when the nutters take the stage, 

To put it simply, we are going to have to mock the lunatics and throw stones at the extremists.

The reason for this is simple:  the counter-argument to any and all regulation dealing with nearly everything in this world is that any step in the right direction moves us closer to "the slippery slope" of idiocy and jack-booted authoritarianism.

Now, as a general rule,  I am not a fan of slippery slope arguments, and I speak with some real-world experience with slippery slopes. 

You see, my own house is built on top of a very steep hill, and in winter my driveway can be as slippery as oiled glass. 

But so what?  

My driveway has two sets of rock-and-concrete steps up the side, and my car is a four-wheel drive vehicle.  No problem.

And so it is in the real world of public policy. 

Slippery slope?  There is no requirement that we check rationality at the door. 

All slippery slope counter-arguments are predicated on the notion that people are stupid, irrational, and prone to extremism and that we are incapable of hacking sensible steps into the sides of public policy solutions.

Those who oppose all regulation, all the time, argue that intelligence, common sense, information, discretion and foresight are rare commodities.  

They tell us that regulators, social policy engineers, and arm-chair policy pundits cannot be trusted. 

And how are we to counter those argument when we have tail docking, circumcision, and goldfish debates being elevated to the forefront of animal and child welfare concerns?

What's next? 

Are we going to see campaigns about hair spray on poodles and whisker trims on whippets elevated to cover story concerns? 

Are we going to see debates about the status of women devolve to why women should be forced to wear whatever they are told by nameless, faceless men meeting in secret in the Capitol?

Are we going to let real child welfare concerns be hijacked by the penis obsessed?

Because if we do, then it's time to call it quits and go home. 

If we cannot sort out the REAL problems from those that are little more than contrived crises, then we have well and truly lost our way.


1 comment:

HurricaneDeck said...

Well, hairspray is probably next in some places:

You can perm your kids' hair with toxic chemicals, but lord have mercy if you dye your poodle in Boulder, Colorado!

In other news of the HD Rat Pack, we were told by an older "gentleman" at a hotel in Kalamazoo, MI last weekend that my dogs' docked tails made them look mutilated. I told him if he wanted to see mutilated, then he should see the boob job I just got and that I had all kinds of scars from the lipo that obviously didn't work. The look on his face was priceless. Sending a lobby full of dog folk into laughter was even better!

I shall forever do my best to mock the lunatics one at a time!