A conservative news and views blog.

Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Crime and Punishment in Ballwin, Mo. - Sacrificing Freedom for Security

Timothy Birdnow

America has gone off it's rocker.

A motorist in Ballwin, Mo., a suburb of St. Louis, has been arrested for flipping the bird to another motorist.

A 64 year old engineer named Steven Pogue was stuck in heavy traffic, and just as his light turned green at an intersection another driver ran the yellow and subsequently got stuck in the middle of the intersection, blocking Pogue. In frustration, he hoisted the solo finger salute, and a police officer happened to see it. Pogue was not ticketed for inciting violence or "fighting words", but rather for "extending a body part outside of the vehicle".

Yes, you read that right; Ballwin, Missouri has an ordinance against extending a body part out of a vehicle.

Now, would the police arrest a man who has his elbow extending out of the window as he was driving with said window down? What about using manual turn-signals? They do exempt manual signaling. Time was you used your arm to signal what you were doing to other drivers; hand up meant right turn, hand straight out meant left, hand down meant stop. But are motorcycles exempt? Pretty much your entire body is extended out of the vehicle when you ride a motorcycle.

Pogue shouldn't have done it, but flipping the bird is an expression of speech, and the Supreme Court has duly ruled it thus. Yes, it can lead to violence, but so can a harsh word - perhaps more so.

Pogue has to go to court over this, too; there is no specific fine for "extending body parts" and so the judge must hear the case. He went but the offending officer didn't bother to show, and now he has to return when the officer is present. I hope Pogue sues the city over this, but he probably won't.

This may seem comical, but it is a symptom of a deeper malady that is infecting the American mind. "There ought to be a law!" is no longer challenged; everyone believes that if they personally do not like something or think there is some need, no matter how minor, the law must intervene. We have what Mussolini termed "Totalitarianism" in the Fascist sense; a society intimately involved in all aspects of life. It does not matter whether the intentions are noble or malicious; the State is now viewed as having the right to intervene in every and any situation. Ballwin, Mo. has absolutely no interest in this situation, but it has chosen to involve itself anyway because some police officer thought this was rude. Rudeness is not a matter of interest to the State, but people no longer understand the proper role of government. Now Americans believe everything is the interest of the State.

There is a term for that; Police State. That's where we are headed if people do not awaken to the fundamentals. Constitutional government, the rights of the citizenry, everything is lost otherwise.

More than anything, these are the stories that make me shudder. It shows that the fault is not in the stars but in ourselves. Barack Obama is not an aberration; he may have gone a bit too far, but the public does not fundamentally disagree with the snake oil he has been peddling. Americans have tossed their zealotry for freedom away as casually as they would dispose of a used kleenex. We now value security over freedom.

Benjamin Franklin once famously stated "He who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither" and that is exactly where we stand. Oh, and we are getting exactly that.

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