Life is Becoming Criminalized
The other day at work, some well-meaning soul was so aroused by seeing two youngsters sitting in a car, who were visible on one of the countless security cameras every workplace has now, that he suggested we call the police. Fortunately, clearer heads prevailed, and the youngsters eventually left on their own accord.
This illustrated to me just how much society has changed over the past forty years. “If you see something, say something” has become the mantra of the day. Virtually any behavior now can be seen as suspicious. Any innocuous compliment can be construed as sexual harassment. Once innocent jokes can be considered hateful if someone claims to be offended.
A few months back, my brother and sister were having a conversation about the latest incident involving a neglectful parent leaving her toddler locked inside a car on a hot day. The consensus between them was that “we ought to do something,” and that something clearly would include severe punishment, most likely a long prison sentence. Surely, this is reprehensible parental behavior, but do we really want to start imprisoning parents for their neglect? There are a lot of parents who make mistakes, and some of those mistakes result in tragedy. Our already wildly over-crowded prisons are going to become even more swelled if we go down this path.
Cigarettes are still sold legally everywhere. And yet they have become impossible to smoke, unless the smoker is nowhere near someone who might claim to be offended by it. Smoking has been banned in virtually all public places. Seat belts weren’t even installed in most cars fifty years ago. Even after every car had them, many drivers and passengers opted not to wear them. Now if you’re caught without your seat belt on, you are summarily fined. Fifty years ago, children were thrilled to bounce up and down in the open beds of pickup trucks. Babies were held by an adult during passenger rides. Parents now must wonder how babies ever traveled in the days before car seats become mandatory.
All of these controls and regulations were sold to the public as a great benefit, to ensure public safety. But that safety has come at a great cost. Our personal liberties have all but eroded. One can be arrested now for saying the wrong thing, if someone overhears and claims to be offended. I define “reforms” as actions which clearly benefit the majority of the people. Do any of these nanny state-type “reforms” benefit anyone, except those who run the state?
In my area, I am noticing more and more stoplights where no “leading green” is permitted. In the past, almost every light had a “leading green,” in other words, it allowed a driver to turn left after checking to make sure that the opposing flow of traffic was clear. Evidently, our leaders don’t think we can determine such things for ourselves any longer, and thus drivers end up wasting minutes at a red light, when the way is completely clear and could be safely navigated. And I’m seeing more lights that don’t permit a right turn on red any more. Again, the state doesn’t trust individuals to make the most basic decisions on their own. And, of course, such rules open the floodgates for more tickets, and thus more revenue for the state.
This is where the Libertarian in me really kicks in. I hate this kind of mindless control over human behavior, this distrust in the people to live their own lives without recklessly endangering others. But the same state that institutes these draconian regulations for the “safety” of the people is increasingly growing impatient with the homeless, with some areas banning them from congregating in places, and even from receiving food from sympathetic citizens. This is the Authoritarianism we suffer under; an iron fist without any velvet glove.
In similar fashion, to “improve” efficiency, electronic time clock systems have been instituted in virtually every workplace now. The business world, like the state, is watching our every move, literally with their slew of surveillance systems, and figuratively fretful that a blue collar worker might gain five minutes on his employer. How did businesses ever manage all those decades, by trusting their workers to sign their time cards and accurately record their hours?
One wonders, in fact, how society as a whole ever got along without all these magnificent “reforms.” Was crime and workplace theft really that prevalent before security cameras became installed everywhere? Were there really that many accidents where suicidal motorists turned left into traffic at “leading green” lights? Were that many babies and toddlers killed in auto accidents, because they flew out of the hands of the adults holding them?
Whenever someone new in management arrives, in any work environment, the employees fear the “changes” he or she will bring. When was the last time a new boss took charge, and announced sweeping changes which brought new benefits to the staff, as well as a more relaxed, lenient atmosphere? Just as we have learned to fear any new laws or “reforms” emanating from our legislators, employees know instinctively that new management is going to feel compelled to “crack down” on the alleged abuses that the prior administration allowed.
Watch an old movie, and see how idealized little girls used to be. Grown men, unrelated to them, would beg for a kiss. “Thank Heaven for Little Girls” was a very popular song. Now, most of the public has a strong impulse to label such behavior as perverted, and is anxious to corral more of the apparently inexhaustible supply of pedophiles in the heartland. One can go online and search for any “sex offenders” in their neighborhood. The problem is, “sex offenders” can include people who are caught urinating behind a tree.
Meanwhile, all the child sex scandals I delineated in Hidden History go mostly unreported in the mainstream media, and mostly un-prosecuted by the same authorities who call Child Protective Services on parents who snap a photo of their child taking a bubble bath. Again, the response is to crack down on average people who might simply be acting the same way human beings have always acted, while ignoring real abuse being perpetrated by the rich and powerful.
Those of us who recognize that positive change, real reform, is desperately necessary, have grown to realize that the best we can do is swallow our idealism and hope that nothing gets done. Any change is certain to make things worse. Until the corruption is rooted out, at all levels of our civilization, this is the sad reality. And it’s shameful, and inexcusable, that it has come to this.
We are led by utter morons, from the local level of traffic planners to our national legislators. And it is not enough that they are glaringly incompetent and corrupt. They are also proud of what they’re doing, and cocksure that their authoritarianism is just what the public needs and wants. It’s actually surprising that no political candidate has adopted the campaign slogan, “Less Freedom! More Rules!” A more frightening thought to ponder is that such a slogan would probably find lots of enthusiastic supporters.
The United States already has more people imprisoned than any other country. With every new unnecessary law or regulation, we are building new cells, and grooming more “criminals.” How many criminals do our leaders suppose are out there in the general public? Once “hate” and “intolerance” have been sufficiently criminalized, how many citizens will be left unscathed? We all hate sometimes, and we are all intolerant sometimes. Ironically, those most anxious to punish “haters” and the “intolerant” push for it with a tremendous amount of hate and intolerance.
While our leaders were certainly corrupt fifty years ago, at least they were generally competent. The roads got plowed. The power didn’t go off in a strong wind. Public transportation ran on time. Now they are not only more corrupt, but inexpressibly incompetent. They put their hands down the pants of American travelers, but can’t guard our borders. This is the state we’ve allowed to be born and to flourish; taxation without benefit, protection from ourselves but not our leaders or the police, regulations that infringe upon liberty and improve nothing.
Please think about all this, the next time you’re tempted to call the police because your neighbor’s car has a dead inspection sticker, or their yard is too cluttered for your liking, or their grass is too high, or you smelled marijuana wafting over from their residence. Is this the way you want to be treated? Do you want the hard hand of the new authoritarianism to come down on you or your loved ones? If you permit this kind of tyranny to grow unfettered, it will find its way back to you, but then it will be too late for you to protest.
We need fewer laws, and fewer restrictions on personal behavior. The old chestnut “victim-less crime” needs to be remembered and quoted. There are plenty of things the government should be doing, plenty of reforms and changes it needs to institute. They are so wrong-headed in their approach, on all issues, that it defies all reason. You’d think that, by the law of averages, they’d get something right here and there. Once in a while, they should statistically do something that benefits the majority of the people. But they never, ever do.
Jonathan Swift wrote, hundreds of years ago, about the judges of his day, which he claimed were so addicted to corruption that they couldn’t be bribed to enact justice. I feel the same way about our leaders; they are so prone to corruption that they couldn’t be bribed to do the right thing. Not only could a random group of preschoolers do a much better job of running this country, a random group of death row inmates would probably be less corrupt and have more principles.