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But laws, as libertarians have oft observed, are frequently worse than the worst that bratwurst can wrought. While improperly prepared hot links might sicken and kill those relative few who eat them, even the most well crafted and highly hailed law may have the effect of distressing and destroying millions of people for years, or even centuries.
Most Americans seem to believe that obeying their nation's laws is all that it takes to be a good person. Identifying oneself as a "law-abiding citizen" is a common homily trotted out to prove one's superior morality and worthiness.
It seems never to occur to such folk that there may be good laws and bad laws, that "laws" are frequently found at the root of the world's most egregious evils.
Here's a recent example from a minor article in a Texas newspaper, one of those single-paragraph items stuffed into a "news roundup" designed to fill up the white space between the advertising revenue on a back page of a back section of a fat Sunday Edition pitched into suburban driveways at three AM:
"Austin - Texas needs three more prisons and the biggest expansion of its corrections programs in a decade to keep up with a growing number of inmates, the state's top prison official has told lawmakers. The $520 million proposal would also bolster drug-treatment and community programs, said Brad Livingston, executive director of the Texas Criminal Justice Department."
The article presupposes that everyone agrees that the state's actions are proper because the anti-drug persecution is being carried out under the auspices of a powercratic tool called "the law." The "law-abiding citizen" must agree that it's just dandy to make it legal to ingest aspirin or Kaopectate or gummy worms but not marijuana or speed or funky mushrooms. Personal choice, in other words, should be verboten.
Libertarians with friends who think the war on drugs ought to be vigorously enforced by "the law" ought to ask those friends how they feel about these other laws that have been vigorously enforced in the past:
Spain The Iberian Peninsula needs three more torture chambers and the biggest expansion of its anti-heresy programs in a decade to keep up with a growing number of witches, the country's top Persecutor told lawgivers. The 520 million gold Doubloon proposal would also bolster rack and thumbscrew programs, said Thomas Torquemada, Grand Inquisitor of the Spanish Inquisition Department of Dungeons and Witch Burnings.
But that's ancient history, you say. Except for that brief period of insanity in colonial Salem Mass, we don't do stuff like that in America. So let's look a little closer to home, both historically and geographically.
New York The city needs three more slave markets and the biggest expansion of its auction blocks program in a decade to keep up with a growing number of kidnapped tribal Africans, the former British colony's top slave master has told lawmakers. The 520 million Continental proposal would also bolster shackling and flogging programs, said Simon Legree, executive director of the New World Department of Slave Trafficking.
Yes, NYC had a slave market. It was perfectly legal. And so was this:
Indian Territory Oklahoma needs three more reservations and the biggest expansion of its internment programs in a decade to keep up with a growing number of savage redskins, the territory's top injun fighter has told lawmakers. The 520 million Greenback proposal would also bolster degradation and cultural obliteration programs, said Armstrong Custer, executive director of the US Department of Indian Removal, Massacre and Genocide Services.
But that's just boring old history. Nothing like that could happen in modern times.
Third Reich - Germany needs three more death camps and the biggest expansion of its holocaust programs in a decade to keep up with a growing number of Jews, the state's top extermination official has told lawmachers. The 520 million deutschemark proposal would also bolster cattle car transportation programs and gas chamber services, said Adolph Eichman, executive director of the Nazi government's Department of Final Solution.
At one time or another, governments have made it officially illegal to be a witch, an African, an Indian, a Jew, or a pothead. At one time, all of these groups were "law-abiding citizens." Against whom should the powercrats declare war in the future? Perhaps against you, today's "law-abiding citizen?"
Garry Reed's articles have appeared in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, LP News and other print and online publications.
The latest from the River City's Reader:
Taking, Splurging, and Appropriating
In what must be one of the few fun-filled functions in the otherwise beastly boring lives of bureaucrats, undercover operatives try to sneak weaponry through airport checkpoints to test how good Transportation Security Administration screeners are at finding guns, bombs, and knives.
At half a dozen airports around the country, TSA employees were so uncharacteristically successful that it naturally triggered an investigation to see if they were cheating on their tests.
Sure enough, the wand-wavers had been tipped off by their buddies that the fun-filled functionaries were coming.
Copyright -- Garry Reed
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