Liberty Is Dead, Just Not Buried Yet

UPDATED 07/13/11

Quoted in “DC Park Police Gestapo Violate First Amendment

“On June 22, 2011, I attended a meeting of the D.C. Taxi Commission for a story I’m currently working on about a proposed medallion system in the district. About half-an-hour into the meeting, I witnessed journalist Pete Tucker snap a still photo of the proceedings on his camera phone. A few minutes later, two police officers arrested Tucker. I filmed Tucker’s arrest and the audience’s subsequent outrage using my iphone.

A few minutes later, as I was attempting to leave the building, I overheard the female officer who had arrested Tucker promise a woman, who I presumed to be an employee of the Taxi Commission, that she would confiscate my phone. Reason intern Kyle Blaine, overheard her say, “Do you want his phone? I can get his phone.” (The woman who was given assurances by the officer that she could have my phone can be seen at the end of the video telling me, “You do not have permission to record this!”)

As I tried to leave, I was told by the same blond female officer to “stay put.” I told her I was leaving and attempted to exit the building. I was then surrounded by officers, and told to remain still or I would be arrested. I didn’t move, but I tried to get the attention of a group of cab drivers who were standing nearby. At this point I was arrested. I spent the remainder of the day in a cell in the basement of the building. I was released at about 4PM.”

Items from “Are We Seeing More Moves to Muzzle Free Speech in America?

  • A woman was kicked off a U.S. Airways flight after being deemed a “security risk,” purportedly because she took a photograph of the name tag of an airline employee she felt was being rude.  (Did the employee or the airline really expect this “muzzling” incident to go away quietly?)
  • Drivers in Tennessee must now be extra cautious about the content of their bumper stickers. According to WKRN in Nashville, “Drivers caught with obscene or patently offensive bumper stickers, window signs or other markings on their vehicle visible to other drivers face an automatic $50 fine.”  And exactly who will be the judge regarding what stupid couplet is “patently offensive”? (And what do the offended do? Tail the tasteless offenders so closely—just so all the words/images are properly catalogued or photographed—that an accident ensues?)
  • One can‘t be completely sure what political camp was more pleased by MSNBC’s decision to indefinitely suspend Time editor Mark Halperin for calling President Obama a nasty name during a broadcast of “Morning Joe”—-left-wingers upset at the insult…or right-wingers upset by the word choice itself. Wherever you stand on that continuum, the incident should stoke free-speech debate and get at the heart of whether or not the cable network is muzzling one of its own, rightly or wrongly.

Quoted in “A Permanent Threat to Religious Freedom“:

Same-sex marriage does not simply include more people in the definition of civil marriage; it labels the natural understanding of marriage as a form of irrational prejudice, ignorance, bigotry, and even hatred. In other words, same-sex-marriage laws teach the public that people who view marriage in the natural way are morally equivalent to racists.

Once this idea is embedded in the law, there will be enormous pressure to take it to its logical conclusion by marginalizing and penalizing people who continue to think marriage is one man and one woman. Some of this pressure will come from state sources and some will come from private sources, but in both cases it will find ways through whatever cracks might exist in protections for religious and moral conscience.

These stories just happened to catch my eye today. I’ve been seeing a lot of stories like theme of late — and with increasing frequency, it seems to me.

What does it all mean? It means that the delicate balance between liberty and order may have tipped decisively in the direction of order. But it is not the voluntary order that arises from civil society’s observance of shared norms. It is the oppressive order that comes when the state usurps the role of civil society, and the minions of the state are licensed to impose their will on the details of our lives.

UPDATE: The readiness of “do gooders” to propose new impositions testifies to the state’s vast power:

As the Western world gets fatter and fatter, the solutions to slimming it down get ever more draconian. In Britain yesterday, the government issued guidelines saying “children under the age of 5, including babies who can’t walk yet, should exercise every day.” Today, in the States, a pair of Harvard scholars writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association advocate stripping away the custody rights of parents of super obese children. They’re for real!

Related posts:
The State of the Union: 2010
The Shape of Things to Come
I Want My Country Back
Society and the State
Undermining the Free Society
The Destruction of Society in the Name of “Society”