Saving Us From Snowzilla

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Every year
for the past three years a massive snowman has risen from Billy
Power's yard in Anchorage, Alaska. Starting out at nearly 16 feet
tall his first year, the snowman has grown larger each year reaching
a whopping estimated 25 feet this year. As might be expected, the
snowman, dubbed "Snowzilla," has annually drawn large
crowds of admirers to the east Anchorage neighborhood he calls home.
But this year the city government of Anchorage has chosen to bravely
step forward to protect their fair city from Snowzilla.

The city tacked
a cease-and-desist order on Billy Power's front door deeming Snowzilla
a nuisance and a hazard to the neighborhood. And yet somehow — mysteriously
— Snowzilla still arose this year bigger and better than ever. Powers
takes no personal credit for the latest incarnation of Snowzilla;
when asked how the giant snowman got there, he replied, "Magic."
So how long will it be before the SWAT team is mobilized to deal
with such an affront to public safety?

It's not a
facetious question. Implicit in every law, ordinance, statute, and
code is a mechanism for enforcement which, taken to its logical
end, allows the state or municipality to use increasing amounts
of coercion up to and including lethal force, if necessary, against
the non-compliant. This is worth remembering when government at
any level seeks to "protect" us with official actions
from "monsters" that seem to exist primarily in the minds
of busybodies who are eager to use their power to control, intimidate
or inconvenience citizens who dare think outside the box. Safety
is fast becoming an Orwellian buzzword for justifying increased
government control at all levels.

It doesn't
appear that any official move is afoot to address the nuisance of
those appreciative spectators caused by Anchorage homeowners who
decorate their homes so beautifully with Christmas lights. So why
single out Powers? Part of the answer may lie in the fact that Powers
has been a target of city code enforcers for some time now over
what the city calls "land use violations" involving his
business which have earned him nearly $100,000 in fines. In spite
of his friction with city hall, Powers has managed to keep his sense
of humor intact as the city considers its next move.

But how far
can a man be pushed? The city of Kirkwood, Missouri, found out the
hard way about a year ago when they annexed an unincorporated area
and imposed their codes on a business owner named Charles Lee Thornton,
hitting him with tens of thousands of dollars in fines for doing
things exactly the same as he had legally done for the previous
20 years. They threw him out of city council meetings; they beat
his lawsuit in court and it finally ended when he walked into city
hall and killed 6 people including the mayor. There is no justification
for Charles Thornton's murderous rampage — he acted like a government,
after all — but the $64,000 question remains: Were the city's actions
really necessary to protect rights and serve justice?

The truth is
that many of the monsters from which government claims to be protecting
us are those of its own creation.

December
27, 2008

Bryan Hyde
[send him mail] is a talk
radio host and graduate student at George
Wythe University
in Cedar City, Utah.

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