Monday, March 27, 2006

If You're in My Face, I'm Not Free

In 1984 George Orwell observed that power is power over people. A corollary may be that freedom is freedom from people. Privacy. The right to determine who enters our personal space.

Privacy is enhanced through business diversity, which arises when businesses are free to ban people or behavior. Then we may frequent those venues that have filtered out whatever we wish to avoid. Unfortunately, some groups enlist government to inflict themselves on everyone, everywhere, all the time.

Take cell phones. Sure, everyone claims to have gotten them "only for emergencies," but the vast bulk of cell phone conversations I'm forced to overhear involve morons discussing the minutia of their non-lives. Ray Bradbury foresaw this blight as early as 1953 in "The Murderer," the story of a man who jams a busload of radio wristwatch users, panicking riders who are suddenly faced with silence and each other. Today some theaters, churches, restaurants, and other "public" venues want to emulate Bradbury by installing cell phone blockers. Unfortunately, federal law bans blockers (while exempting government agencies from the ban). In 2000 Travis Larson, speaking for the Cellular Telephone Industry Association, said, "The technology is illegal in the U.S. and it's our position that it should be."

So thanks to industry lobbying, we're denied the right to patronize venues that block the retards and their ridiculous ring tones. (Unless of course that venue bought a blocker in Mexico, where they're legally available — hint, hint.)

Then there's public breastfeeding. Some say it's beautiful and natural. Well, taking a dump is also natural. I still don't want to see anyone doing it. Unfortunately many states, California included, statutorily enforce a woman's "right" to inflict her hungry little precious on everyone. A "right" championed by the California Women's Law Center, which in 1999 sued a Glendale Borders bookstore for asking one mom to take it elsewhere. But rather than strong-arming stores, let's champion business diversity by allowing each venue to set its own policy. Then soccer moms can go their way, and I can go mine.

Speaking of rugrats, I'd pay extra to fly an airline that banned them. I've had one baby kick the back of my chair over a six hour flight, another terror tot who never tired of slamming his tray behind me, a grinning mom who cleaned the sh*t out of her infant's ass across the aisle from me rather than take it to the rest room, and the ubiquitous crying babies and kids racing in the aisles. Parents feel neither shame nor responsibility for their little darlings' misbehavior. "They're just letting off energy." Yeah, but do they have to let it off on me? I guess so, because if an airline ever did try to introduce adult-only flights, the FAA would likely intervene.

Still, if we're gonna suffer regulations, we should suffer equally, no? Not according to the SUV lobby. In the 1970s the feds began setting strict fuel emission standards for cars. Trucks were exempt because their large sizes were commercially necessary. However, auto manufacturers lobbied to exempt SUVs and minivans from cars' strict emission standards and "gas guzzler tax" penalties, claiming that SUVs are trucks--despite the fact that SUVs are non-commercial and use roads and lanes prohibited to trucks.

Now, I support gun ownership, but gun ownership requires responsibility, like not aiming your gun at somebody's head. Well, SUVs are guns pointed at small cars, crushing them in any accident. So if SUVs want the tax and emission exemptions enjoyed by trucks, then treat them like trucks. Stay in the truck lanes, away from small cars. Let's see how well you do against a tractor-trailer. Either that, or pay the gas-guzzler tax same as cars. Until we have private highways, so I can patronize those without SUVs, let's be statutorily consistent. It's neither liberal nor conservative nor libertarian to allow SUVs the best of both regulatory worlds.

Of course, I may be biased. I was nearly run down by an SUV soccer mom last year, who shouted while whizzing past me, "Sorry, I didn't see you, sorry!"

I'm allergic to tobacco. A few whiffs of second-hand smoke and I have a pounding headache. Twenty years ago I avoided the smokiest diners and patronized those with adequate no-smoking sections. I've benefited from the no-smoking hysteria, yet I oppose the government's intervention. I wish that cell phone yakkers, soccer moms, SUV road hogs, and others with annoying traits would stop asking the government for favors and let private venues set their own rules so I can choose whom to avoid.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

In Defense of Muslims

I see much mindless Muslim-bashing among "libertarians" and "conservatives," many of them claiming that Islam is inherently evil or violent. This, despite individualism being a key principle of libertarianism.

There are, what, over a BILLION MUSLIMS in the world? How many are involved in terrorism? Hundreds? Maybe thousands at most? That's still 0.0001% of the total.

Yes, there are savage statements in the Koran. But so too in the Old Testament. To deny Muslims, or Christians or Jews, their individuality is anti-libertarian, anti-American, anti-conservative, and anti-Christian.