Mark Steyn writes up the story of David Gregory illegally waving a 10-round magazine under the nose of the NRA President and, in pointing out the rationale for arresting Gregory, hits a sore point I have these days:
…To Howard Kurtz & Co., it’s “obvious” that Gregory didn’t intend to commit a crime. But, in a land choked with laws, “obviousness” is one of the first casualties — and “obviously” innocent citizens have their “obviously” well-intentioned actions criminalized every minute of the day. Not far away from David Gregory, across the Virginia border, eleven-year-old Skylar Capo made the mistake of rescuing a woodpecker from the jaws of a cat and nursing him back to health for a couple of days. For her pains, a federal Fish & Wildlife gauleiter accompanied by state troopers descended on her house, charged her with illegal transportation of a protected species, issued her a $535 fine, and made her cry. Why is it so “obvious” that David Gregory deserves to be treated more leniently than a sixth grader? Because he’s got a TV show and she hasn’t?…
We have so many law these days – local, State and federal – that is almost a certainty that each of us, at one point or another, is in violation of one or more. Steyn lists more examples of this and points out that when laws become capricious – such as when a little girl can be fined $535 for doing what little girls will always do – then we are no longer living in a nation ruled by law, but a nation ruled by tyranny. Remember, there’s no way they can actually arrest all of us but the laws are so numerous that we’re all going to violate at least one of them at some point…so whether or not any one of us will be punished for our transgression really rests upon the whim of police and prosecutor. Tick off a cop and he might haul you in on some bizarre charge; get a prosecutor with a burr up his rear and you might find the full weight of the law directed against you…or, you might not. All depends. And since it depends not on what you do but on what the authorities decide, you are living under tyranny.
And another aspect of tyranny is when the well-connected are let off – not just Gregory not being prosecuted for something which would have resulted in a world of trouble for any of us, but in the repeated stories we see in the news of the rich and/or famous getting off because they had the money or the connections. We are no longer living in a nation where any of us can be certain of how things will come out – work hard, stay out of trouble and play by the rules…and you can still be fined, jailed, place on “no fly” lists…all at the whim of a government official and then its up to you to prove your innocence.
While we are living in the Error of Obama, not much will be able to be done about this, but if we do win back power (hopefully no later than 2016) one of the main aspects of government reform must be the massive repeal of laws and regulations. Perhaps a commission could be set up to review each law and regulation and determine if it should remain, be repealed or be folded in with other laws or regulations for simplicity. At bottom, as a citizen, it shouldn’t take me more than one day’s reading to find out everything which is illegal under federal law, and less than a day further reading to know everything that is illegal under State and local law. If it takes a person longer than that to get through the law code (and I’ll bet no one could get through it these days in less than a period of months), then it is no longer a code of laws, but a license to oppress.
And a lesson to be learned here is to stop demanding that government “do something” each time some sort of crisis or problem develops. That is the root of this – for about a century now we’ve turned to government to fix things and now we’ve got a government which is tyrannical. High time when a problem comes up that each of us decides to roll up the sleeves and get a little dirty fixing it, ourselves.