Yes it has become a campaign trail staple smaller government, getting government out of our money, our personal lives, our decision making, giving all those things and more back to the people. However on the flip side many of our tea partier’s, current front runners, politicians hoping to transform government as we know it also herald states’ rights on an extended level, giving those in local control more say in what is needed for their area, their city, their town, with some strange, downright humorous results. Yet legal goings on in these places has been largely ignored, seen as a colloquialism to be tolerated, fodder for a good laugh. But what is missed in all of this is just how much of our freedom is taken by laws that should be removed from the books due to age and no longer having relevant application to laws that never should have been in place to begin with, because common sense dictates there is no need. At least bans on smoking, a law in California putting 8 year olds back in booster seats, government recommended regulations on salt are designed to aid the public’s health; however most don’t have that claim on their side. It goes beyond outdated, no longer enforced laws about where you put your horse on Sunday, your wagon, how and where you can wear your hat, silly laws about lending vacuum cleaners, apparently illegal in Denver or the Utah illegality of not drinking milk; in Hawaii it’s illegal not to own a boat, though the latter could be due to the state being completely surrounded by water and the need for emergency evacuation. And it goes to the slow and systematic removal of our freedom be that to make stupid decisions for ourselves, or simply to live our lives in the best way for us, our families, to something even darker discrimination, racism.
We see this played out in the microcosm of any educational institution public or private, K-12, community college or university; colleges calling the parents of intoxicated, drugged out students to deal with it rather than college administrators realizing the students aren’t the only people to have now joined the real world. Public schools banning hugs to cut down on harassment, banning Christmas as not to offend students of other faiths, dictating what parents can put in their child’s lunch to avoid allergens, choking hazards, the injury risk of the can involved in can fruit. Students who have been arrested, carted off to alternative or reform schools for doodling on a desk, the 6 year old arrested for sexual harassment, use of Swiss army knife on food equaling a stint in reform school, kindergarten boy guilty of kindergarten behavior severely punished under anti-bullying statutes; it seems every day there is a new headline about a school prohibiting something. Clothing is no different in schools from t-shirts with explicit images, language to those with alcohol or drugs, pushed up pant legs popular with gangs, the banning of yoga pants worn by one high school’s girls on the grounds the pants were too form fitting, too much of a distraction. The latest, a Pennsylvania middle school that banned the wearing popular Ugg boots because students were using them to hide food and cellphones, devices that are supposed to remain in their lockers during the day. Parents were mixed about the decision ranging from comments regarding students already wearing uniforms, implying they should just go ahead and extend that to dress shoes, to one parent pointing out she doesn’t have all kinds of money to buy her daughter lots of shoes to comply with the ban. Kids attending the school had different things to say, including that phones could be hidden in basketball shoes as well as other places. Must we say it, a girl’s bra? Some, similar to the yoga pants banning high school, planned to get a practical lesson in civil disobedience as they organized to wear the restricted items in protest.
Again it is one thing to regulate schools perhaps more than society at large due to the fact you are dealing with the safety of children in a time where schools have become defacto parents for students who have none, whose parents refuse to parent or are either extraordinarily poor or poor at it. Yet missed in all the uproar about shoes is the fact the phones are already not allowed in class; simply confiscate the phone, require a parent come get it and leave everyone’s footwear alone. Parents who have to continually come to school to retrieve the phone will no doubt take it away from them. Once more regulations on smoking, purposed tax on soda, citizens hoping for tougher regulations on harmful foods, limiting the building of new fast food restaurants, like in California, demanding calorie counts for items be disclosed, adjusting insurance premiums according to lifestyle on a greater scale can be put under the guise of guarding public health. Unfortunately that society is shaping up to be worse than overprotective, micromanaging schools, quickly usurping the rights of adults to do the most benign things, a society clearly anti the very freedoms our country was founded on. Enter bans on “dirty dancing” style dancing in one town, dancing at all in another. Enter arguments over clothing worn on adults, not for a job, not in a church, not as a member of a specific organization, but just out in public. And what you have stumbled onto is bans on baggy, sagging pants as well as a new push in some states to prohibit the wearing of pajamas in public; the latter based on one Louisiana commissioner’s “shocking” Wal-Mart experience in which he saw two young men with loose fitting PJ’s “with their privates about to come out.” He went on to cite a lot of families and senior citizens shop the store on weekends, speaking to the local news reporter about the moral fiber of America being torn away. Today it’s pajamas tomorrow it’s underwear. Oh and they’ve tried that too in Yakima, Washington to name one city where they banned the wearing of thong underwear and see through clothing in public. While completely forgotten about are existing laws against public lewdness, actually exposing yourself. Our kids seem to have a better handle on civil disobedience and fairness than anyone over 30.
Note the commissioner mangles the acronym ACLU and becomes a terrific example of why we have an American Civil Liberties Union in the first place.
Instead we allow the enacting of openly discriminatory statutes targeting young people in the first instance; more importantly targeting a style that has become a symbol of culture and identity among black people, in the second case, along with perpetuating stereotypes that all people who sag their pants are gangsters, all people who wear these clothes seek to break the law, both equally untrue statements. Nevertheless the law stands. Similarly laws attempting to ban pajama pants is not only an assault against freedom of expression, freedom to exist no matter what clothing you wear, provided you are wearing clothes, it perpetuates stereotypes that people who do so are poor, slovenly, possibly mentally unwell, or, in the case of our commissioner, blatantly lacking in moral fiber, all unlikely. Going further are the facts and practicality issues surrounding these particular laws; fact one, you see more bare skin on a woman wearing an bikini than you do on anyone wearing any of these styles; men are not even required to wear shirts at the beach or in public. So it reads like the family values police overreacting because they saw the band of some guy’s underwear, the design of someone’s boxer shorts, not to be confused with their genitals. The Louisiana commissioner is reacting to something he nearly saw not actually saw, sending exactly the wrong message. Bringing us to something else, enforcement; how are you going to enforce such stringent rules, as much of the apparel that could be classified as pajamas only slightly differs from workout clothing used for jogging, yoga, sessions at the gym? Meaning are they going to accost people going to work out, jogging in parks and on trails; at the same time, are we going to do the same thing with people frequenting hospital for everything from antibiotics to chemo, because they are sick and may not feel like or be capable of getting fully dressed before seeing their doctor. What about people visiting the pharmacy, picking up cold, flu medicine from a department store pharmacy, obviously sick, obviously looking to get better, perhaps it’s the middle of the night and they’re getting fever meds for a child; are we really going to slap them with a fine, haul them to jail?
Speaking of discrimination, laws that target otherwise law abiding members of the public anti sodomy laws are not only openly hostile to the gay community, infringing on their freedom of choice to make decisions for themselves, but considering the backlash against gay marriage, republican office runners speaking out about contraception and even masturbation, it could be a growing threat to the public health. Now to their credit, most cities, municipalities, townships have seen fit to repeal said laws others simply don’t enforce them, but 18 states still do despite a 2003 decision striking down all such laws on a federal level; repeatedly ignored are established laws against public sex, prostitution, forcing someone into a sex act still qualifies as sexual assault, sexual battery, rape, depending on what occurred during the crime. Regardless loopholes and application of sodomy, or crimes against nature laws, also fly in the face of general anti-discrimination statutes unchallenged; example people fogging up their windows in a secluded area are likely to be ignored by police as long as they are heterosexual; homosexuals on the other hand are likely to be arrested under these laws, and though usually never prosecuted, are still humiliated, still out the money spent in hiring a lawyer not to mention the stress and strain of dealing with the situation. One couple was thrown out of a restaurant for kissing and told by police they could be cited under Texas law; when in fact they would have had to have been engaged in intercourse for a charge to be filed. States use a provision in the decision saying it does not apply to minors, public conduct, prostitution to target teens engaging in homosexual, anal or oral sex. Others argue their current laws on prostitution say nothing about oral or anal sex and crime against nature laws are therefore needed to handle those instances related to prostitution. Here’s how it becomes a threat to public health; below is a segment from an article dated August 2011 from equality matters .org regarding such laws that require those convicted to register as sex offenders, fact at least under Michigan and Louisiana state law, laws that are continually harsher on gay individuals than a standard prostitution charge for a heterosexual.
“Being forced to register as a sex offender can have devastating, life-long consequences for those who are charged under “crime against nature” laws. Ian Doe, a Louisiana resident who was kicked out of his house at age 13 for being gay and turned to sex work in order to survive, explained how being labeled a sex offender has undermined his ability to find a job and secure medical care:
DOE: And because of this charge, I can’t get a decent job now. I can’t do anything because of the charge … I’ve been everywhere trying to get employment. I’ve been — the minute they find out that I’m a sex offender or I’m a registered sex offender, they tell me “no thank you” or they’ll call me back or they’ll get back with me, and they never do. … I don’t believe that I deserve this kind of — this kind of punishment. I did four years in prison for this. While I was in prison for this crime, for this crime that I didn’t even do that –all I said was “fifty dollars,” and they put me away for four years. And while I was in there, I was raped by an officer, a federal officer of the law that worked at the prison who was dealt with. I also was infected with HIV. I go into prison, and I get infected, and while — and now I’m out here dealing with my health. I’m dealing with trying to get a job. … I don’t believe I deserve to be punished like this. I believe that this should be changed for many reasons. But for one, we don’t deserve this. I mean, it’s because all the lack of a judgment of one police officer to do something, so if he wants to put a prostitution charge or if he wants to put a “crimes against nature” charge on you. There’s no crime committed.” Additional ways it can become a public health threat when patients visiting their doctors refuse prostate or colonoscopy procedures because they fear their doctor may discover evidence of anal sex and report it to police; they are a married woman and don’t want the whole area knowing their sexual preferences. Others may not seek treatment for their possible STD or receive the wrong treatment for what turns out to be an STD potentially spreading it all the while, because the condition was in their mouth, a result or oral sex and they did not want to be fined, go to jail along with having the whole community know their sexual business; score one for small, backward towns in the United States of America.
If we truly want smaller government then it is time to stop discussing the constitutionality of income tax, social security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, FEMA, the evils of the Federal Reserve, shouting about getting government out of our money and focus on getting state and city government out of our homes, our closets, our undergarment drawers and for god sakes our bedrooms. Getting those same entities and more to stop telling us how we can dance in a bar or equivalent establishment, pointedly not places where children and families are going to be. Hemming and hawing about standards, the standard is and always should be you have a right to smoke in your own home and retain your job. You have a right to reasonably affordable medical care no matter what perceived stupid choices you make about smoking, how many cheese burgers you eat or that you like buffet style restaurants. And right to life shouldn’t only apply to severely injured, disabled people on feeding tubes, the unborn but to availability of medical care as well. No matter what kind of pants you wear, underwear you have on, you have the right to be in public without the threat of police harassment; actual police are not the fashion police for a reason.
For those who think it is a case of it’s about time, I think you should get a copy of the B movie flick Demolition Man starring Sylvester Stallone and Sandra Bullock whatever your feelings on the actors, the acting and the overall quality of the movie, one will readily be able to pick up some disturbing aspects of the futuristic society, people fined public credits for foul language, the illegality of red meat, cigarettes, alcohol, along with regulation of sexual activity to virtual reality and procreation strictly to a doctor’s office. While this may sound like utopia to some people what is not so serine about this society is what happens to outsiders who only want the freedom to choose their lifestyle relegated to living in sewers, stealing food, eating rat burgers because it’s meat. Today we ban baggy pants here, pajamas in public somewhere else, thong underwear another place, dancing in this town, sodomy in this city, tomorrow who knows. And as we can see, small town governments are more notorious than their federal counterpart. Still don’t believe me, ask yourself this question you really wanna be the guy sitting on his couch in a kimono drinking a banana broccoli shake singing I’m an Oscar Mayer wiener,” the only thing that survived futuristic radio entertainment our old commercials.