Reading Scott Walker’s defense of his government mandated pre-abortion ultrasounds [they're “a cool thing”], I was struck again by the horrible manipulation involved. Who do these Walker people think they are? Why do they think they can do this to women?
And then I thought, “Where the hell have the Libertarians been?” You’d think the Unfettered Liberty squad would be apoplectic over government mandated trans-organ anything, and the probing of all human orifices. You’d think the Fonzies of Freedom would be out riding Harleys in great trans-continental packs protesting the government trying to violate people and take images of their innards.
You would be wrong.
If you have a strong disregard for your own health and safety, you are free to express it in all sorts of ways. You can smoke cigarettes. You can gorge on fast food five times a day. You can go live among bears in Alaska.
You can stagger through the worst part of town at 2 a.m. You can become a trapeze artist. You can join the Marine Corps. But if federal regulators get their way, you will not be able to ride a motorcycle without a helmet.
But let’s first start with an authentic Libertarian issue: Helmets.
…in three states—Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire—all riders are free to feel the sun on their scalps and the wind in their hair.
This small zone of personal autonomy causes great annoyance at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), a federal agency. Last week, it urged that “everyone aboard a motorcycle be required to wear a helmet.”
The same old song. Government shouldn’t infringe upon my freedom.
Said NTSB Vice Chairman Christopher Hart, “It’s a public health issue.”
Oh, no, it’s not. A public health issue arises when masses of people are exposed to illness or injury by dangers beyond their control—contaminated water, sooty air, natural disaster, marauding bands of hyenas—or when I get a serious disease that I may pass on to you against your will…
But riding a motorcycle without a cranial cushion poses no danger to anyone except the rider. Skull fractures are not contagious.
It doesn’t matter a damn bit that a helmet will save someone’s life. It doesn’t matter that helmets will save the taxpayers millions of dollars in future systemic healthcare expenses. What matters is that putting a confining thing over one’s head really sucks. You ever tried it? Okay.
Given that, you can imagine how strongly the Fonzies feel about this: Big Brother cramming a doctor’s wand up one of their wazoos. Ask Matt Welch. That’s so awful, he can barely stand to hear it…
I was hoping to make it through life without hearing television commentators repeatedly utter the word transvaginal. Yet that intimate territory is where the country headed in February, and it is where we will increasingly return as long as the government keeps assuming a greater role in our private lives…
Libertarians have their values stomped on by governments every day. My (high) taxes in Washington, D.C., are helping to pay hundreds of millions in debt service for a baseball stadium I fervently believe should not have received a drop in public financing. My local city council members—who work part time, mind you, and often maintain second jobs—receive $125,000 from taxpayers each year, a pay rate second only to the loot commanded by the inept legislators of the last city I lived in, Los Angeles. And the criminal code is a festival of offensive-to-me-value judgments, prohibiting actions I consider perfectly moral and proper, such as traveling to Cuba, smoking marijuana, or paying money to illegal immigrants.
…a mandated medical probe, of course that’s bad. But you know I can’t even smoke pot! And they won’t let me fly to Cuba! How much longer must I tolerate government hounding me this way? A nuanced take. Here’s another one, A. Barton Hinkle:
Last week the health committee of the Indiana Senate approved a bill to require not one transvaginal ultrasound, but two – one before the abortion, and one afterward – for medical, rather than surgical, abortions…
Perhaps some enterprising lawmaker in another state will require pregnant women seeking abortions to write letters to their unborn children. We eventually might even get around to requiring scarlet letters, too.
This brings up a much broader problem in American politics: Call it the auctioneer effect. Having approved a new law or program to address a circumstance in one year, politicians confront a dilemma in subsequent years: What next? Often – almost always – the problem does not disappear. It wouldn’t do to conclude that, since previous laws and programs have failed, perhaps the problem lies beyond government’s ability to solve.
Well, I understand why the states force women to undergo ultrasounds [abortion yuck]. But when finally will they give up on it? At what point do they admit abortion is too big a problem to solve with radiating wands and genital probes? As always, the limits of government [sigh].
You’d think the Sovereigns of Self-Interest would fathom the problem with being self-violated. But they don’t at all, or at least none of the ones I could find at Reason.com did. Speaking of which, get a load of this:
Why Is That Cop’s Finger in Your Butt?
The war on drugs now features roadside sexual assaults.
Last month the Texas House of Representatives unanimously approved a bill that requires police officers to obtain a warrant before probing the anuses and vaginas of motorists during traffic stops.
Well now, this is very different. This isn’t some desperate woman who happens to be pregnant. This is about a man (let’s admit it) exercising his personal liberties, smoking marijuana in his car.
The fact that the bill was deemed necessary speaks volumes about the way the war on drugs has eroded our Fourth Amendment rights and encouraged cops to inflict outrageous indignities on people they suspect of violating pharmacological taboos.
Now the government is no longer trying to solve problems. Now they’re a bunch of brownshirted dragoons, bent on oppressing free men and other autonomy-loving types. And anything like a roadside anal probing amounts to a “sexual assault.”
That may be hard to believe, but it is also hard to believe that six troopers in three separate traffic stops thought it was reasonable to explore those private areas on the off chance that there might be some pot there. Such judgments can be understood only in the context of a prohibitionist mentality that sees bits of dried vegetable matter as a grave threat to public order.
But what if the bad actors aren’t a few cops, but entire American states? And what sort of “threat to the public order” is abortion, incidentally? If Libertarians have any essential beliefs or values, it’s not clear what they are.