"The kind of man who wants the government to adopt and enforce his ideas" H.L. Mencken wrote, "is always the kind of man whose ideas are idiotic."
Worse, he's probably a tyrant.
Adolf Hitler, the teetotaling, anti-smoking, animal-loving vegetarian comes to mind, and so do the busybodies who, like Der Fhrer, would enact all manner of health legislation to stop us from smoking, drinking, and doing anything else remotely construed as fun or pleasurable.
A Puritan is bad enough. But a political Puritan with an "agenda" is an absolute menace.
Of Peanuts and Coffin Nails
Somewhere in California, reports WorldNetDaily, one family has an entire school under its thumb.
The kid is allergic to peanuts, and even touching the remains of a Lance Toastchee on the monkeybars, his parents allege, could kill him.
Parents wanted to ban peanuts from the school, but the school authorities, the kind who so courageously dispense birth control pills to minors without parental consent, instead enacted a "peanut reduction policy."
Reports WND: "Kindergarten classrooms and a special playground area have been designated u2018peanut- and tree nut-free zones.' Students and visitors are required to wash their hands. Backpacks and lunch boxes are searched and peanut products are confiscated."
Should food allergies inspire Gestapo tactics in a public school? Well, yeah, when the parents can whip out the unconstitutional Americans With Disabilities Act, which prohibits "discrimination" against people with "disabilities."
Thus, the Nut Police.
Across the country, New York banned smoking in bars, which permitted the anti-cigarette fanatics to boot smokers onto the street. Now you can't have a smoke with your Jack Daniels, which in New York is probably about $7 a shot by now. Naturally, tobacco-loving Empire staters are fuming.
Appropriately, a state attorney recently quoted defending this law is named Quackenbush. Whether he looks like Groucho Marx I do not know, but he is defending a federal claim from tavern keepers, who say the law has dropped business 50 percent.
Who knows how much business the bars lost, but other than the health Nazis, that axis of evil liberals who would shove their views down the throats of everyone from Anchorage to Annapolis, no one ever expected or wanted government to ban smoking on private property.
You wonder where these zealots get off telling everyone else what to do. But then we remember Mencken's definition of Puritanism: "The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."
How to fight them? Dis the law. Forget the lawsuits; just tell the health kooks and their political henchmen to shove off.
The authorities must learn that arcane, unconstitutional, and stupid federal laws will not be obeyed, although this peanut lunacy is another reason to ban public education, for no one agrees how the public money should be spent. As well, the authorities must learn that private property rights mean something in this country. You don't like smoking in my bar? Beat it.
Unjust, ill-conceived laws neither deserve nor require respect and obedience, and typically they do not serve the public good. Cigarette and peanut bans are prima facie unjust; neither prohibition provides a public good in the traditional sense. They do provide a tyrant's smug satisfaction from knowing his tyranny has triumphed.
Uncivil disobedience is in order, and not just to restore liberty. It will send idiotic Puritans into a frothing rage.
September 13, 2003
Syndicated columnist R. Cort Kirkwood [send him mail] is managing editor of the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg, Va.