Washington, DC - There are basic needs for human beings: the obvious are food; shelter; sex. And then it becomes complicated for societies where the basics are “givens,” and needs become more abstract. Are the freedoms enumerated in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms (and the U.S. Constitution) “freedoms”—or limitations on the actions that a citizen might take otherwise?
Freedom of speech—but at what point does it become slander?
Freedom of the press—but what are the parameters of libel, let alone “hate” when making such speech?
Freedom of religion—but to practice polygamy, let alone human sacrifice?
Every freedom comes with its own thorn hedge of rules, regulations, and restrictions. But what these also demonstrate is that there is a human lust as great as that for food, shelter, or sex—and that is the lust to control others. The lust to tell others what to do and the power to assure that they do it. It used to be said about U.S. Puritans that they lay awake at night angry that somewhere someone might be having fun. But even more invidious have been the 20th century ideologies that demand not just the adherence of your body, but the commitment of your mind (and soul if you believe in such) to the leader, the Party, the State.
Fortunately, we have escaped entrapment in a society equivalent to Mao Tse-tung’s “blue ants” or the more topical North Korean society where regimentation has become an art form. But perhaps while avoiding such gruesome societies where conformity is assured by state-sanctioned terror, we have substituted a Gulliver and the Lilliputians regime in which hundreds, if not thousands, of restrictions tie you down “for your own good.” Or for the “good” of your children, your community, your country—imposed with or without your consent to this “good.”
Thus you are punished for the use of tobacco with heavy taxes. And punished further with increasing restrictions over where, when, and how you can practice this expensive right. Having limited smoking in virtually every public place, you now are restricted from smoking privately (such as in an automobile) when minors/children are present. You cannot advertise the product—but must “advertise” various perils associated with its use on individual packages.
You are punished for the use of alcohol with heavy taxes. Any operation of a motor vehicle after having consumed alcohol in any significant amount can result in severe legal and financial penalties. Your park your vehicle? Labyrinthine hours in tow away zones leave you victim to predatory tow trucks and gasp-inducing ransom fees.
You decide to ride a bicycle instead or driving? You must wear a helmet to mitigate the damage from a prospective accident.
You elect to walk and/or take public transportation. Better traverse the street at cross walks, obeying the signals. And in the Metro hold onto that handrail—and don’t “dis” the Metro policeman who chides you for lacking a third hand to hold on when other two are occupied (it just cost Ms Kosoian a pretty expensive penny for her insouciant manners.)
You wish to own a firearm. As a Canadian, you have no innate Second Amendment right to do so. Consequently, by the time you have negotiated the complex and expensive hoops and hurdles of permission forms, permits, training, waiting periods, and instruction for safely storing the firearm, an outside observer would judge you to be an obsessed fanatic—and thus exactly the type of person who should be prohibited from owning a weapon of individual destruction.
It snows (no surprise, it’s Canada). Now you must clear your sidewalk to specified dimensions within a given period of time. Too physically restricted? Away for the winter? Tough on you.
And should you be blessed/cursed with a child, restrictions are daunting. You must educate the child; if you choose the school system for which you have paid with taxes, you have closely prescribed rules on what your child must learn. If your child is ill, you must accept state prescribed treatment regimes—your religious prohibitions regarding such treatment be damned so far as the state is concerned. And don’t decorate your child’s body with politically incorrect symbols (today a swastika; tomorrow a star of David?); swat that obstreperous child in public (or admit to doing so in private); or let “puppy fat” become societal defined obesity. No “nanny” state here; looks more like “Big Bertha” for parents caught in her toils.
In Canada and the United States, we are unlikely to lose our liberties in one fell swoop; rather be alert to the thousand spider-like strands that ensnared Gulliver.