Monday, April 8, 2013

After Hours, April 2013 Edition: Big Brother is Watching YOU!

Note: Most of the time I just roll my eyes at the latest government news and rant in private. There is plenty of eye-rolling because I'm a political amalgamation of both the democratic ideals and  republican, so I'm usually ticked off at one party or the other. But a local news story really has my dander up, so today you're going to get an irate essay on the government over-reaching under the guise of public health and safety. You've been warned.

I have always loved to read dystopian stories and I occasionally write them: stories where the government looks the other way while rednecks take "border control" into their own hands, stories where people willingly give up all forms of creative expression in order to experience bliss at the hands of a pill . . .

And just as some of the old "dream" technology of science fiction has become a reality, so has some of the dystopia, in the form of authoritarian government.

Seat belts were the gateway drug for big brother, and, high on the victory, he's just been jonesing for more control.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not anti-safety; I understand that the intention of a lot of this "government oversight" is to save lives, and I understand that the costs of not having these rules is paid by everyone.

Take smoking, for example. It's definitely unhealthy, it affects more than the smoker, and we all pay in health care costs. I didn't like the laws, not because I smoke but because I believe both in personal freedom and personal responsibility. But once the ball got rolling, there was no stopping the stop-smoking legislation. While my sense of personal freedom is bruised, I do like walking into a bar and not choking and gagging and having my eyes water. I get to enjoy my terribly unhealthy drinks while breathing fresh clean air.

But where is the line between personal freedom and big-brother authoritarianism?

A ban on trans fat in restaurants? A ban on big gulps? And now, in my own small town, a ban on chewing tobacco in public parks? REALLY?

Instead of protecting the public, this one falls firmly under the government trying to protect the individual from his or her self.

In an article on the topic ran in my local paper, they quoted talk show host Dennis Prager: “Eventually, citizens will have to carry calorie cards that limit how much an individual will be allowed to consume in any given day. If health trumps liberty, why not?”

Sounds pretty dystopian to me. I just want to write about dystopias, not live in one.

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