OPINION – George H.W. Bush should have been a shoo-in for the 1992 presidential campaign. But Bill Clinton and his strategists vaulted past the incumbent war hero who had just presided over Operation Desert Storm by directing the voters’ attention to the faltering U.S. economy.
Their blunt, albeit effective slogan: “It’s the economy, stupid.”
Diplomacy has its place, but sometimes things need to be said without equivocation.
The death of Eric Garner at the hands of the NYPD portends yet another occasion on which the American people could desperately use some straight talk. What they most need to hear falls well outside of the media’s artificial boundaries of approved opinion.
This means that we cannot be distracted by opportunistic race-baiters and their enablers into thinking this is a social justice issue requiring more government. Nor can we allow his death to be framed as a police matter requiring better chokehold training, more body cameras, and more government.
Incidents of police brutality and predatory prosecution are merely symptoms of the larger problem afflicting virtually every corner of our land. The real problem is unnecessary laws as a result of too much government. Period.
The suffocating rules and regulations that control and regulate virtually every aspect of our lives – including perfectly peaceful behavior – have reduced us to serfdom. None of us can say with absolute confidence that we are not violating some criminal law or another.
Not only is our system of law in a constant state of flux, thanks to new legislation and case law, but there is also an increased likelihood that the state can find a reason to interact with us should we be unlucky enough to attract its attention.
Our ever-expanding list of laws serves as legal cover for authorities to harass us and assert control over us when no actual crime has been committed.
Like a homeless man wielding a squeegee at an urban intersection, excessive government forces its unwanted services onto us and then becomes threatening when we balk at its demands for payment. Of course, we have the option of simply driving away from the squeegee man as soon as the light changes. Government will kill you if you refuse to submit.
Think about it. The ultimate penalty for refusing to submit to the decrees of the state is death.
It doesn’t matter what started it. If you spit out your gum on the street and catch the eye of an agent of the state and then refuse to submit, things will only escalate. No matter how small the perceived offense, if you resist, the state will introduce greater and greater levels of violence until you have either submitted or you are dead. It’s that simple.
This is why it is so important to carefully consider whether the laws and regulations being enacted actually square with the proper role of legitimate government. A good rule of thumb might be to ask ourselves, “Would I be willing to kill in order to enforce this rule or law?”
If we are serious about curbing the excessive use of government-directed violence against otherwise peaceful people, then we need to start with determining which laws on the books are actually worth killing over.
This is where we can finally begin to see the traditional Left-Right paradigm begin to break down. Statists on the left and the right clamor for the use of government power to punish peaceful individuals over drug laws, economic regulations, asset forfeiture, permits and licenses, draft registration, and minimum wage laws, to name a few.
They forget that every new law requires enforcement and that violence is a possibility whenever an act of enforcement takes place.
When questioned as to whether arbitrary or unnecessary laws should exist in the first place, defenders of the status quo predictably default to accusations that the questioner must be against all laws and would probably be happier in Mogadishu.
Just because something is legal doesn’t automatically mean that it is good or that we should refrain from questioning it.
Good laws begin with the recognition that they are enacted for the purpose of protecting our natural rights. That’s why laws addressing criminal acts that cause measurable, objective harm to a person or his or her property are not the same thing as administrative rules.
Eric Garner was likely violating an administrative rule when he drew the attention of the state. He was not harming another person in any objectively measurable way as he disposed of his personal property. When he tried walking away from the confrontation, the state flexed its muscles.
If you still cannot comprehend the role that excessive regulation played in his death, then you are part of the problem.
Ed. note: “Shoe-in” corrected to “shoo-in.”
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Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and opinion writer in Southern Utah. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.
Email: [email protected]
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