This Month in Statism [update]

So far, 2011 hasn’t been a great year for individual rights.

What is clear is that the officers are harassing a man who is legally recording the incident from a distance that in no way physically interferes with what the police are doing. One officer threatens to destroy his camera if he doesn’t put it away. Toward the end, several more officers confront the man again. One of them then tells him he’ll be “locked up” for disobeying an order unless he stops recording.

  • Apparently taking a few cues from Egypt’s criminal dictatorship, a Republican Senator is once again proposing a bill to implement an “internet kill switch.” This is yet another attempt to give the government the power to stop the Internet from penetrating US borders, following similar attempts by Independent Joe Lieberman and Democrat Jay Rockefeller. Control has tripartisan support!
  • The US Transportation Secretary has lauded a new device that checks to make sure you’re not drunk before you’re allowed to drive a car. They claim, of course, that the new devices will not be mandatory. Color me unconvinced. In any case, the device does nothing to address the gaping holes in current drunk driving laws.
  • But if drunk driving weren’t bad enough, we’re now being told that it’s necessary to regulate away the perils of jogging. Oregon is going one step further, seeking to outlaw “kid trailers” that cyclist commuters use safely every single day:

House Bill 2228 introduced by Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland), would amend an Oregon statute that bans unlawful passengers on a bike by making it illegal to carry a child younger than 6 either on the bike or in a trailer. The bill includes a fine of $90.


A former director of public health at Oregon Health & Science University, Greenlick said the bill was prompted by an OHSU study on injuries among bike commuters in the Portland area.

The study indicated that about 20 percent of them had a traumatic injury in a year and about 5 percent had one serious enough to get medical attention. “It  really got me thinking about what happens if there’s a 4-year-old on the back of that bike when a biker goes down,” Greenlick said.

He knows of no studies about the risks of carrying children in cargo trailers or on the back of a bike. But he said he wants to fire up a conversation in the Legislature. [emphasis added]

How come whenever some politician wants to have a “conversation” about something — whether it’s guns, free speech, or bike trailers — they’re always actually trying to give the government more power to dictate the way people live their lives? Oh, they don’t want you to listen to your iPod while biking, either.

  • And, of course, there’re always the ever-present Guardianista telling Americans they need to give up their First Amendment rights… you know… for their own good:

Freedom of speech, like freedom of traffic, can only be defined by the curbs and regulations that make it real.


Free speech is a Hobbesian jungle. It requires a marketplace where the trade in information, ideas and opinion has a framework of rules, including rules that maintain fair and open competition. Most will be voluntary, but others need enforcement.

That’s right. For free speech to be “real,” it needs to be… un-free.

Sadly, this mentality is far from non-existent among large swaths of the American political class. Whenever you hear someone solemnly intoning “hate speech is NOT free speech,” you’re actually listening to someone who is objectively pro-censorship.

And just who do you think it is that they have in mind for the job of censor? Ahh, but if we only had better people in the government…


Here’s one more that I hadn’t read about before I posted this:

Jim Harper, director of information policy studies at the free-market Cato Institute, says the push for legislation is an example of pro-regulatory Republicans. “Republicans were put in power to limit the size and scope of the federal government,” Harper said. “And they’re working to grow the federal government, increase its intrusiveness, and I fail to see where the Fourth Amendment permits the government to require dragnet surveillance of Internet users.”



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