The Best Guardian Is Freedom

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Politicians
love to talk about our children. They love to drag them into every
scheme to increase their power and expand government. It's always
"for the children," always about the kids.

But
if the government is so concerned about our kids, why do they keep
getting in the way of the most basic obligation we have to our youth – their
protection.

When
I look at cases of children being harmed, I can't help noticing
that in most cases, the government entrusted with protecting our
kids is working against us, making it more difficult to safeguard
our children.

If
you turned on the news recently you were treated to another Columbine-style
mass murder at a school in Minnesota. Following the state's "gun-free
schools" edict, no one was able to halt the slaughter. Here
in Iowa, a young girl was abducted from her home and murdered by
a previously convicted sex-offender paroled under Iowa's penal code.
A girl in Florida was abducted under similar circumstances just
one month earlier.

These
and other cases highlight how difficult it is for the government
to do what it promises, and how state action often ends up doing
the opposite of what sensible individuals would do if given a little
bit of freedom.

Putting
kids in danger

It's
especially frustrating when kids get involved. I have a two of my
own, and although they are incredibly messy and often quite irritating,
I still consider it my primary duty to protect them from harm.

Thus,
I was very much chagrined to learn that a registered sex-offender
is taking classes at the college where I teach, and where on most
afternoons my children roam unsupervised, playing in empty classrooms
and climbing trees on campus while I finish up the day's work.

There
was a wee bit of hand-wringing at our faculty meeting when this
was brought up, but not concerning the safety of my children or
the scores of other kids that cross our campus every day on their
way to school just a block away.

On
the contrary, the main concern was for the child-rapist and our
need to conform to his rights as set forth by the state and federal
government.

To
make matters worse, upon further investigation, I discovered that
there were several other sex offenders who were registered in town,
including two that live within a block of my home. Now what am I
supposed to do? "Don't talk to strangers" only goes so
far.

My
instincts tell me to form a torch-and-pitchfork mob and chase these
people out of town like Frankenstein's monster. Unfortunately, the
same government that disarms teachers and leaves schools vulnerable
to gun-toting maniacs leaves me with no avenue to remove child-molesters
from the vicinity of my own children.

If
the good people of my community were not constrained by perverse
law, what do you think would happen to the local pedophiles? I'm
guessing that at the end of the day, most of them would be run out
of town on a rail.

And
that's the way it should be. Reason compels me to conclude that
if a dangerous creature is loose in town, it's my right to expel
the thing. At the very least, I should be able to pack up and move
to a place where people think like I do and are free to act on their
values.

But
that's not the way it is. Not when the state distorts justice to
the point where taking logical steps to protect your family is a
crime.

Liberty,
not license

Such
an assault on a person's individual liberty may be surprising coming
from a libertarian. This is due mostly to misperceptions about what
a philosophy of freedom entails. We are our own worst enemy in some
cases. For example, there is a Libertarian Party bumper-sticker
that says: "Pro-choice on everything."

We
know what that means, but I think it sends the wrong message to
non-libertarians. Thus, there persists in many quarters the perception
that libertarians don't oppose aberrant behavior; that we are the
"anything goes" political ideology.

This
is simply not true. Libertarians are not pacifists. We do not condone
crime or violence and we are not tolerant of child abuse or child
pornography. In a libertarian society, there would be provinces
where such things were strictly forbidden. Under democracy, on the
other hand, we are forced to tolerate the level of such behavior
that the government tells us we must tolerate.

Many
American liberals, and a few libertarians, contribute to this problem
by holding to the notion that all people are worthy of equal amounts
of respect. In truth, there are a number of individuals who are
barely worthy of any respect at all. Murderers and child-rapists
are at the top of the list. These people forfeited their human rights
the moment they engaged in their heinous crimes. I am not obligated
to respect their rights to life, liberty, and property any longer.

Perhaps
you don't agree – maybe you feel that child-molesters can be rehabilitated
and shouldn't have to live the rest of their lives with the stigma
of their crimes. Fine. You and like-minded people can welcome them
with open arms when you feel they are ready to rejoin society. I
hope your community is a success.

To
me, however, living in close proximity to a child abuser only invites
tragedy and misery. Folks like me ought to be free to kick these
individuals out of sight.

Libertarians
believe in limited government and the freedom to peacefully live
our lives according to our values. Not raping children is a value
I hold and I demand that others living nearby also adhere to that
standard. Only the government stands in my way, forcing my children
to play in the shadow of child molesters.

In
a free society I'd be free to treat a pedophile like I would treat
a poisonous snake that crawled into my yard. I would dispatch it
with haste and celebrate its demise as a worthy and noble action.

April
1, 2005

Scott
Kauzlarich [send
him mail
] is a professor of social science at Ellsworth Community
College in Iowa Falls, Iowa.

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