03 August 2010

Not about freedom

I mentioned in the last post that the Anti-Defamation League did some lazy hand waving and asserted that banning a mosque on private property in the vicinity of the former NY WTC was "not about rights." That reminded me of this post at Popehat that I had been meaning to praise.
Popehat | Ken | If The Government Says That It’s Not About Freedom, Then It’s Just NOT

[...] The tricks, in discussing limits on government authority to micromanage our lives, are to (1) be wary of the government’s categorical frames, and (2) recognize that safety and freedom often exist on a continuum.

The government likes nice, neat frames. The government likes to create categorical exceptions to rights, then cram as much as possible into those categorical exceptions to increase its power. The government likes to get you to accept these big categories first — like “safety” and “homeland security” — and then tell you that what it’s doing fits entirely into those categories, with nothing left to go in the category marked “freedom.” The government’s rationale for pestering hippies is no different:
“This is not about restricting the public’s rights,” said Nicole Neeser, program manager for dairy, meat and poultry inspection at the Minnesota Department of Agriculture. “This is about making sure people are safe.”
The government would prefer you believe that its actions are all about one thing or the other, like a light switch. The government doesn’t want you to contemplate how safety and freedom are incremental trade-offs on a sliding scale — because then you might start questioning how far the scale has slid in one direction, or maybe even question whether the government, in light of widespread dishonesty and incompetence, really improves safety with its meddling.

But the L.A. Times — ostensibly the government’s critic, in longtime practice its compliant lapdog — is unlikely to raise those questions.
Ken is talking about raids on farm collectives which have the temerity to sell unpastuerized milk products. For another example, see my post yesterday about Anna Quintana, a Miama Beach woman who asserted that rights cease to exist when child safety is involved.

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