Perspectives: How good people help kill off freedom; smoke shop, cannabis oil, fat

OPINION – One of the great challenges of helping people understand the value of personal liberty over having their lives dictated to them by others is trying to view the role of government as they do.

Part of the difficulty here is the fact that few of us spend time thinking deeply about the nature of the institution we call government. We tend to be far more focused on symptoms like certain policies or programs, but hardly anyone ever questions how the institution of government impacts our freedoms.

For instance, when the St. George City Council voted to revoke the business license of a local smoke shop, it justified its actions by saying that the store’s retailing of an arbitrarily illegal substance was a matter of public safety. That sounds awfully noble but it could be more accurately described as an oligarchy of do-gooders forcibly imposing their will upon others.

In this case, so-called “spice” regulations are simply nanny state domineering that has to invent crimes in order to expand its control over the populace. It’s about denying others the ability to make their own peaceful choices without outside interference.

This condescending embrace of Big Mother can also be felt in the grudging manner in which the state of Utah finally gave its blessing to potential users of cannabis oil for the treatment of certain medical conditions. Permits are strictly limited and require certification from a neurologist and a physician’s approval as well as a $400 tax which is described as a “fee.”

Somewhere, state legislators are deeply concerned that those suffering from a debilitating form of epilepsy might experience something more recreational than politicians are willing to allow.

Unfamiliar with Utah’s new law? Read more: New cannabis law provides hope for epilepsy sufferers

Taking this benevolent tyranny to the next level are officials in Iowa who recently sentenced a terminally ill cancer patient to prison for growing his own marijuana as part of his disease management. Like Utah, Iowa grudgingly recognizes the legally permissible use of cannabis oil for children with a rare type of epilepsy.

The common thread in each of these stories is that decent people are being denied the freedom to make their own peaceable choices. Good people, who have never thoughtfully examined the proper role of government, are among the staunchest defenders of these policies. Even if they are not outspoken supporters of such policies, their silence suggests assent.

In this manner, the well-intentioned citizenry becomes an enabler of the power-hungry opportunists that are openly hostile to liberty.

The question that must be asked is: What is government supposed to do?

As a proponent of the virtues of limited government, without which there can be no freedom, my answer is protect our God-given rights from those who would cause them measurable harm through violence or fraud. This flies in the face of how we are taught to view government from kindergarten on as the indispensable keeper of societal order.

Sometimes it’s easier to be reminded of the things government has no legitimate business doing. Charley Reese said it best:

It is not the duty of the government to protect us from large restaurant servings, trans fats, saturated fats, tobacco smoke, and books or magazines the prudish disapprove of. It is not the duty of government to make sure that parenting is easy, that no one ever offends us, and that our eyes never see a liquor ad or a Confederate flag.

It is not the duty of the government to tell me what I must eat, drink, smoke or chew. It is not the duty of the government to tell me how to rear my children. Personal health and personal safety are personal responsibilities, and the government should butt out.

Just because we disapprove of the choices that others make does not give us the right to control their lives. Unfortunately, when we urge government to limit the freedoms of others, by presuming that we know what’s best for them, we lose a measure of our own personal liberty in the process.

Government can be very masterful at convincing the public that its policies are created with only our best interests in mind. But when we look at the institution itself, it becomes very clear that government operates through force and does not allow its “customers” to decline its services.

Instead of trying to regulate the mote out of the eyes of those who peacefully use their freedoms differently than we do, we’d be better served working on the beam sticking out of our own eye.

It’s amazing how well freedom works when we focus on our own responsibilities and stop obsessing over how others use their freedom.

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Bryan Hyde is a morning commentator on Talk Radio 590 KSUB and an opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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  • JAR July 14, 2014 at 11:21 am

    Bryan Hyde,
    I’ve always said you voice your best logic on Mondays. or (Maybe Your team won the World Cup this time). Anyway, thanks for the article.

  • SAGEMOON July 14, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    Great article, Bryan.

  • Roy J July 14, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Hmm, but I think that the question “what is government supposed to do?” cannot be answered unless two prior questions are resolved, viz. “What is man?” and “Why must man be governed?”. Also, although rights might be God given, that is only to state the agent cause…and a complete answer ought to include the material, formal, and final causes.

    • Snake Plissken July 14, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      My friend, some would reply, “get real”; this is the rough and tumble of actual public discourse, where real time results in every day life are sincerely, if hastily, sought. Better to save the philosophy 101 for the classroom, and support a realistic dialogue that can benefit the community without taking everyone back thru Classic Comics’ “Dialogues of Plato” etc etc.

      • Roy J July 15, 2014 at 5:56 pm

        When Bryan stops pretending that he has meditated deeply on what the nature of government and actually demonstrates some original thought, those of us who have actually read a few books and happen to be able to spot the difference will probably start agreeing with him. To a certain extent. You, on the other hand, obviously can’t spot the difference, so this comment is probably lost on you. Oh well.

        • crack babies r us July 15, 2014 at 6:56 pm


  • Kris July 14, 2014 at 2:42 pm

    Well Done Bryan

  • CHRIS July 14, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Very thoughtful/insightful article. I hope some of the local people that do have the best interests at heart will read this and hopefully understand it. Once again, WELL DONE!

  • Just Saying July 14, 2014 at 4:43 pm

    I enjoy all you articles Bryan. Use to be a Republican but in the last 6 yrs or so I have opened my eyes and lean more towards conservative/ libertarian. Keep up your great writing.

  • crack babies r us July 14, 2014 at 4:47 pm


  • Karen July 14, 2014 at 6:05 pm

    There are instances when well-intentioned legislators make silly laws but when Mr. Hyde rails on about “power-hungry opportunists that are openly hostile to liberty”, he sounds pretty silly too.

    • Pat Graham July 15, 2014 at 1:41 am

      Maybe you live in Utah but you still need to wake up and smell the coffee. There is nothing silly in what Bryan said and there is definitely nothing silly or funny about any government trying to control the people or trying to take away our rights. Our rights are not only God given rights but that is why our forefathers gave us the Bill of Rights, the United States Constitution, among many other items in order for all of us to have the freedom and liberty that we were born with instead of being controlled by power hungry greedy politicians that don’t give a hoot about you or me or any other true American. It is too bad they removed any and all books that we studied in school so the generations that followed my generation do not get the full picture or the education they deserve. It was our government that started the “No child left behind” crap. Ask yourself why they started it and what they took away from the people in order to make it work. That is when the books started being removed, fuzzy math started, students were and still are getting dummied down. I will tell you now that there is no sense of arguing with me about this subject. I used to be proud and maybe a little smug, to myself not openly, of the fact that I was a test student in 5th grade at Cedar North Elementary. I had the only math book, that was given to me, in the state of Utah. Now I am a little ashamed even though it was not my fault and I was too young to know what was going on but it was students like me that caused part of the reason the government started messing with our education system by lowering the standards for everyone so students of different ancestry could pass and get their diploma. My daughters’ generation was the first to be affected by the governments stupidity and plans of future control over the American people. Luckily I was able to help her and my granddaughter further their education.

      • G.S. Hale July 15, 2014 at 2:06 pm

        Wow can you spell /grammar check that for me …. Aggressive computer at work replaced some words I did not notice…. Thanks

      • Karen July 15, 2014 at 8:22 pm

        My generation read George Orwell’s book, “1984” in the sixties and the fear-mongers were sure that by the actual 1984 we would all be watched by Big Brother. It was a rather good fiction novel but all the subsequent predictions by the John Birchers just didn’t happen. (Oh, how they made us afraid of communism!) Nowadays we have the reconstituted Bircher types who love articles like these that continue the same old themes day in and day out. As for me, I have a lot more confidence in America and it’s ability to be a vibrant country that prizes and retains its freedom.

        • Just Ben July 17, 2014 at 12:56 am

          I read 1984, too, and I see a great deal of it that is completely accurate in spirit if not in exact detail. I’ve known for years that my children would not inherit the America I grew up in. If you would but open your eyes, you too could see that the government is involved in nearly aspect of your life.

    • G.S. Hale July 15, 2014 at 9:52 am

      Your the problem… people that attempt diminish the point of a well written article like this one with criticism like yours… you don’t seem to realize that you lack awareness of self and the deep impression government pretexting has made on you shines through in your remark… you have drank the kool-aid and you don’t know it… Do you have an iphone too or did you draw the line at government when keeping the status quo?
      My intent with these remarks is not to insult your intelligence it is to hopefully make you aware of it…. maybe thats what it will take to get people to truly think for themselves. It may not create new libertarians, neolibertarians, or minarchists but calling out the sheeple when they make foolish statements may make for better free thinking conservatives, moderates, and progressives in the long run.I am trying to help you understand that the current state of government overreach equates more to human farming than protection of constitutional freedoms…. and that this point of view is not silly…. It is a real threat that will one day lead to dictatorship in America… if we don’t change our thinking… glad I could help.

  • Snake Plissken July 14, 2014 at 8:41 pm

    Dear Bryan,

    Good job. You characterize the debate clearly, without inflammatory excess. The real question: are there enough readers in Washington County who can profitably assimilate these ideas–and replicate the process??? Keep it up.

  • Mike July 14, 2014 at 10:07 pm

    Thanks Bryan. Great editorial.

  • Pat Graham July 15, 2014 at 1:46 am

    Nice to have you back Bryan. Only problem now is that I will have to start going to bed earlier so I can get up and listen to your new show. You might want to read my reply to Karen’s comment. It is past time the public has their blindfolds removed and I have to say that you are someone that can really make that happen.

  • Suffragette July 15, 2014 at 9:26 am

    I don’t agree with the SG city council’s action. But you make it hard to agree with you. The evil government has no role in attempting to control sale of random plant matter sprayed with sometimes deadly chemicals and marketed to children in packages with cartoon characters on them? In what world? Don’t equate spice and other products like it with marijuana. And don’t equate marijuana with cannabis oil. They are all very different substances with different properties and results. Promoting the sale of spice shows you to be naive at best, and idiotic at worst. There are plenty of bad laws in Utah and elsewhere. Maybe you could spend some time working to fix them as opposed to spouting off from the ideological fringes trying to get attention.

    • G.S. Hale July 15, 2014 at 1:59 pm

      Easy now…. Don’t blow your stack at the guy. From this article he is drawing some comparisons that don’t necessarily relate and really only have their “taboo-ness” I noticed that as well – And I appreciate and understand your point. I however think that your point albeit absolutely legitimate is not the overall message he is trying to convey. Read it again an see if its more about the oligarchy – local -state – federal that he is pointing out. I think it is but admittedly I am not as scholarly as I once thought. I think the article – my take away – is that there is too much government and that we as a almost equally divided people make it too easy for them to be that way. I would say we are a symptom of a systematic failure in self governing. We have given too much of the decision making process up to these nebulous bodies that rule us. For example they have socially engineered us into thinking that alcohol is not as bad for us as cannabis. Alcohol is one of the top five killers in America. Cannabis is not – yet it is illegal. I myself do not partake in either but the facts say that Alcohol is clearly worse. I digress and while legalization is clearly a different debate my point is the people this article is talking to are part of the problem because they believe thing the government tells them. And the work that the government does “on our behalf” is quite often wrong or unjust. Shutting down the smoke shop was done on our behalf. The guy sold a substance that was not illegal at the time. He was removed from his role at the business. the business upheld stipulations set forth by the council for almost 3 years – no further incidents or violations. And now the city is closing them down. If the state government really cared about us wouldn’t close both stores – the Washington and the St.George one? No because they don’t. The action was taken based on opinion and not fact. Thats the point of bringing this up in this article. I say live and let live with a small government that protects my constitution , my person, and my property. One could argue that if these were the rules all of the some people would be in trouble regardless and that may be so but I would not have decisions made for me based on the actions of others by a government bureaucracy that doesn’t know me or represent me. A controlling party of a few is not a democracy. And people that think their opinion matters their party is the currently controlling few are part of the problem.

  • McMurphy July 15, 2014 at 9:54 am

    If you can’t use police powers to force people to live just as you want them to, then what is the point of being a local or state legislator? Those sent to Washington have an additional incentive — $$$$

  • St. George Resident July 15, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Governments are established to preserve communities, not necessarily individual liberties, when exercise of certain individual liberties may be harmful to the general community the government is established to protect & preserve. Since our governments are self-appointed, we as the community can and should question things we disagree with and should raise objection, demanding redress of grievances. But broad-brush painting of government as “power-hungry opportunists that are openly hostile to liberty” when they are actually doing the task they were appointed to do is counterproductive, and makes you and your fellow “libertarians” look like clueless nuts. Maybe that’s what you are…but I digress.

  • sing4money July 16, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    Most of you…wake up! I will put it in plain english to help you. When you cheer that the city of Saint George tramples on the rights of a shop that you dont like, you also cheer for having your personal freedoms taken away. Wake up and see that by encouraging the City to go beyond their duty, you are asking them to run your life for you.

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