Freaking Out the NRA

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Sometimes a little event can underscore life’s hypocrisies.

My last reminder came when I had to get approval from my homeowners’ association to remove an outdated trellis from my front entry. Surrounded as I am by anti-government, free-market types, you’d think this would have been an unfettered no-brainer. Turns out my laissez-faire neighbors have created a bureaucracy that puts government to shame. It took several weeks, about as many pages as the original US Constitution, and a $400 payoff – oops, I mean “fee” – but the association finally approved my three-hour trellis removal.

Could this process be simplified? Definitely.  Still, I’m a liberal, so I can tolerate some bureaucracy if it’s really there to promote the greater good.

That doesn’t mean I don’t love to call out inconsistent behavior when I see it. I was among the first to note the irony of conservative Newport Beach regulating leaf blowers instead of relying on free markets to solve the problem. Then there’s the neighbors who’ve been arm twisting the city to rip out the fire pits at local beaches because of the “smoke hazard” (wink wink).

And what about all those angry, red, Tea Party states where voters are rebelling against government intrusion into their lives? Why are these libertarians passing all sorts of government rules and regulations to curb voters’ rights, limit womens’ health choices, make it harder for workers to organize, change school curriculums, penalize immigrants, and generally make regulatory mischief while they’ve got the majority control to do it? So much for being against government intrusion.

A favorite tactic of conservatives when they get to run things is to wrap themselves in the Constitution and the “original intent” of the Founding Fathers.

I recently wrote about photo ID laws, and, to be thorough, I did check to see what the Constitution has to say on the subject. Well, the Fathers left this one out. I suppose we could infer that they intended we would all rush out and get photo IDs just as soon as cameras were invented.

Of course then we’d probably have to infer that they denied women the vote because the Fathers knew no self-respecting woman would want her picture taken by those cheesy cameras at the DMV. It took the 19th Amendment to overrule the Fathers on that inference.

Here’s another tricky one: What do we do if the intent of the Founding Fathers was less than admirable? For example, what if the real intent behind the 2nd Amendment was to make sure Southern states had the right to bear arms to keep their slaves in line? Then we’d have to ask whether the 13th Amendment ending slavery negated the 2nd Amendment, which would really freak out the NRA. Think about it.

OK, I started with my trellis and I’ve wandered far afield. But I don’t care. I ripped the ugly thing out, and I’m not putting it back up no matter what the intent of the Founding Fathers was.

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