Tag Archives: regulations

The War on Freedom


I’ve been stateside for the last week, and after spending hours in various airports listening to “Homeland Security Advisories”, dealing with airport security and watching American newscasts, I’m now more convinced than ever that the Fear Industry is very real.

For reasons that I can only speculate on, there seems to be a concerted global effort to create a culture of fear throughout the developed world.  In countries like Australia and Canada, this industry is more subtle, but in the UK and the USA, there seems to be little or no attempt to hide it. 

As I type this, I’m actually sitting in the airport and listening to the “Security Advisories” being announced.  Has anyone else noticed that since they started doing these threat level announcements 8 years ago, the level has never dropped below “Orange”?  Be vigilant, they say.  Watch for suspicious activity.  Inform the police or Transport Security officers of any perceived threats.  Oh and while you’re at it, why don’t you subject yourself to our overzealous and ineffective security screening process?  You don’t mind do you?  Sure it violates a couple of your rights, but it’s in the name of public safety in the “War on Terror”, so you really shouldn’t complain.

What really disturbs me though is the number of people who truly believe that by carrying 100mL bottles of shampoo, the world, or at least the airport, is a safer place.  They truly believe that by taking off their shoes, they are thwarting the next 9/11. 

“Most people want security in this world, not liberty” ~H.L. Mencken, Minority Report, 1956

Especially here in the United States, the people are constantly inundated with messages of violence and fear and possible terrorist attacks.  All of the major news networks flood their viewers with information.  There’s the news anchor with pictures and videos of some tragic story that they repeat ad nauseum for days on end.  There are the scrolling panels that are impossible to follow and leave the viewer feeling overwhelmed and anxious.  And my personal favourite, has been the gradual shift from reporting facts to intentionally eliciting a specific emotional response in the viewer.  “There was a motor vehicle accident on the highway this afternoon involving multiple vehicles that left one person dead and several others in hospital with minor injuries” has been replaced with “There was a horrific crash on the highway that took the life of an innocent young mother, left several others clinging to life in hospital, and left witnesses traumatized”.

The news writers carefully word the stories to guide the viewer to a precise emotional response, be it fear or grief or worry, etc. Whatever that emotion may be, it will very rarely be positive.  CNN hasn’t been dubbed “Constantly Negative News” for no reason.  This phenomenon is by no means limited to the US – it’s just far more blatant here than in other countries.

As I mentioned earlier, I could speculate endlessly on the reasons for this constant fear factor, but I think that would serve little purpose.  What’s more important, in my opinion, is being aware of what has been, and could be, done while people are in this state.  You see, when people are feeling afraid, or hopeless, or anxious, or overwhelmed, or stressed, they have a tendency to give up rational thought.  They’ll listen to anyone who claims to be able to make those uncomfortable feelings go away, and damn the consequences.

The consequences, however, are huge!  What I see happening on almost a daily basis is a gradual erosion of our rights and freedoms.  Every day we trade a little bit of freedom for the illusion of safety.  I’ll repeat that last bit: the illusion of safety.  All of the endless new laws and security screening procedures simply make us think we’re safer, while doing nothing to actually address the underlying issues. 

What many people fail to grasp, is that we live in a world of duality.  Light and dark, hot and cold, up and down, love and hate, good and evil.  You can’t have one without the other.  All the rules, regulations, laws and security procedures in the world will never, ever change that.  If someone is determined enough, they will always find a way. 

I’m not saying that we shouldn’t try to make the world a better place.  I’m saying that we need to carefully consider the wisdom of our current path.  Do we really want to live in a world where everyone is presumed guilty?  Do we really want to live in a world where people are punished because of what they might do?  Is legislating safety really making us safer, or just making us feel like we are?

Lastly and most importantly: what’s the point of fighting for freedom, if you’re going to use that freedom to create laws that take it away?

Bill C-6: Enough is enough!


The problem with a government passing laws in the “best interests” of its citizens is that there is the presumption that the government actually knows what is in the “best interests” of its citizens.

This new Bill was passed by the House of Commons and had its first reading before the Senate in June of this year.  Debate in the Senate is slated to continue when Parliament returns this month.

So what is it?  Bill C-6 is meant to strengthen our consumer safety and protection laws.  The intent is to increase powers granted to Inspectors to prevent unsafe products from being sold to consumers.

Sounds okay to me.  What’s the problem?  In its current form, the Bill is so poorly worded that it gives Inspectors the right to enter a person’s home and seize any consumer product that it deems “unsafe”. 

For the full text of Bill C-6, look here.  Read on to find out which parts I find most worrisome.

Consumer Product is defined as: a product, including its components, parts or accessories, that may reasonably be expected to be obtained by an individual to be used for non-commercial purposes, including for domestic, recreational and sports purposes, and includes its packaging.

Under Schedule 1 of the proposed bill, consumer products include: explosives, cosmetics, food, pest control products, vehicles, fertilizers, vessels, firearms, ammunition, cartridge magazines, cross-bows, prohibited devices, plants, seeds, controlled substances, aeronautical products, and animals.

I’d wager that there isn’t a household in Canada that doesn’t own at least one of those consumer products.

20. (1) Subject to subsection 21(1), an inspector may, for the purpose of verifying compliance or preventing non-compliance with this Act or the regulations, at any reasonable time enter a place, including a conveyance, in which they have reasonable grounds to believe that a consumer product is manufactured, imported, packaged, stored, advertised, sold, labelled, tested or transported, or a document relating to the administration of this Act or the regulations is located.

What household doesn’t “store” or “transport” one of the consumer products listed above?

Under what circumstances would a product be deemed “unsafe”? As defined by the Bill, a Danger to Human Health or Safety” means any unreasonable hazard — existing or potential — that is posed by a consumer product during or as a result of its normal or foreseeable use and that may reasonably be expected to cause the death of an individual exposed to it or have an adverse effect on that individual’s health — including an injury — whether or not the death or adverse effect occurs immediately after the exposure to the hazard, and includes any exposure to a consumer product that may reasonably be expected to have a chronic adverse effect on human health.

I have a very huge problem with the word “unreasonable”.  It’s vague.  Its meaning is variable depending on the circumstances and the person interpreting the law.  Call me silly, but when a law is going to infringe on my Charter Rights, I’d really rather not have any “gray areas” included in it.  Ambiguity just makes it that much easier for the law to be abused.  This is, of course, not touching on the fact that if a law infringes on our Charter Rights it shouldn’t even be a law at all.

Here’s a few more relevant sections for your reading pleasure:

20.(2) The inspector may, for the purpose referred to in subsection (1),

(d) seize and detain for any time that may be necessary

            (i) an article to which this Act or the regulations apply that is found in the place, or

            (ii) the conveyance;

20.(4) An inspector who is carrying out their functions or any person accompanying them may enter on or pass through or over private property, and they are not liable for doing so.

21. (1) If the place mentioned in subsection 20(1) is a dwelling-house, an inspector may not enter it without the consent of the occupant except under the authority of a warrant issued under subsection (2).

(2) A justice of the peace may, on ex parte application, issue a warrant authorizing, subject to the conditions specified in the warrant, the person who is named in it to enter a dwelling-house if the justice of the peace is satisfied by information on oath that

(a) the dwelling-house is a place described in subsection 20(1);

(b) entry to the dwelling-house is necessary for the purposes referred to in subsection 20(1); and

(c) entry to the dwelling-house was refused or there are reasonable grounds to believe that it will be refused or to believe that consent to entry cannot be obtained from the occupant.

23. An inspector who seizes a thing under this Act may

(a) on notice to and at the expense of its owner or the person having possession, care or control of it at the time of its seizure, store it or move it to another place; or

(b) order its owner or the person having possession, care or control of it at the time of its seizure to store it or move it to another place at their expense.

What does all this legal mumbo-jumbo mean? In plain English all of this means that Government Inspectors can arbitrarily deem a consumer product “unsafe”, enter your home with or without your consent, seize your property, and make you pay for the privilege of having it seized.

I had hoped that a Conservative government in this country would (at least temporarily) put an end to the Liberal tendency to Nanny Statism.  Unfortunately, it seems that my hopes were in vain.  It would appear that Canada has been set on a path that it cannot (or will not) deviate from. I can only ask: how much longer before stories like V for Vendetta are more truth than fiction?

Jumping Off the Ban Wagon


Those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.  So how about a little history lesson?

Prohibition

Everyone has heard about The Noble Experiment.  The banning of liquor was brought forth in 1913 in an effort to “improve society”, especially for women and African-American labourers.  The result was the Roaring Twenties, when average citizens became criminals, and the Mafia evolved from petty gambling and theft to bootlegging, racketeering and “blood in the streets”.  John D Rockefeller Jr, a supporter of prohibition, summed it up perfectly in 1932.

“When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before.”

War on Drugs

This “war” has been waged in one form or another since 1969.  Obviously use of illicit drugs has fallen since the 60s and 70s, but rates of use have been climbing steadily since the late 80s.   In Canada, since 1997, cannabis use has remained stable, while cocaine and other illicit drug use continues to climb steadily.  According to a 2007 study, from 1994 to 2004 use of illicit drugs in Canada jumped from 28.5% to 45%.  As for the USA, after spending billions of dollars over a 6 year period in Colombia, the DEA has seen an increase in coca production in remote areas of Colombia and neighbouring countries.  In fact from 1980 to 1990 Peru saw a 10-fold increase in coca production in the region (Source: “Drug Policy in Andes Called Failure,” Washington Post, March 27, 1993)

I could quote facts and statistics on this one until I’m blue in the face, but I think everyone knows for themselves just how dismal a failure this “war” has been.

Gun Ban

I never love statistics more than when I’m discussing gun bans.  Why?  Because there isn’t a single statistic that shows gun control of any kind to be a success.  Australia instituted strict gun control laws in 1997, and over the last 10 years, they’ve seen assault increase by 49%, robbery increase by 6%, sexual assault increase 30%, and violent crime increase by 42%.  The UK brought in their strict gun laws in 1988 and have since seen a 500% increase in their violent crime rates.  In Canada our violent crime rate has also continued to increase.  And despite our handgun registration laws (in place since 1934), handguns are still used in approximately 30% of homicides every year.

Hey all you Ban Wagon folks!  What were you saying about gun control lowering crime rates again?

Pointy-Knife Ban

Nope, I’m not joking.  For the last several years, Emergency Room doctors in the UK have been calling for a ban on pointed kitchen knives in a bid to reduce deaths from stabbings.  Do a google search for the thousands of news articles on this topic.  What’s next?  A knitting needle ban?  Or how about selling only plastic baseball and cricket bats from now on?  Or maybe we should just amputate our opposable thumbs at birth so that we can’t grip any weapons?   Seriously, when I read stories like these I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.

 

So what do the above issues all have in common?  Well they all involve attempts to solve problems by focussing on the symptoms rather than the disease.  Rather than educating people or properly punishing those who commit crimes, our “leaders” choose to take out their frustrations on inanimate objects instead.  What’s my point, you ask?  I’d just like to know when the I’m-scared-of-my-shadow-so-let’s-ban-sunshine crowd is going to wake up and realize that bans do not work.  In every instance I’ve mentioned above, bans have either had no measurable effect or they have made worse the issue they were meant to solve.

As a gun owner I’m often accused of being “paranoid”.  That always makes me laugh – pot this is kettle calling.  It’s the Ban Wagon, after all, that’s so afraid of inanimate objects that they seek to eradicate them from society. 

“Be Prepared”.  Everyone knows the Boy Scout motto.  But here’s my question to the Ban Wagon: what do those two words mean to you?  You see, to me, being prepared is not an action, it’s a mindset.  It’s about being aware of the realities of this world and planning for all possible eventualities, both good and bad.  More importantly, it’s about personal responsibility.

Yeah, I said it again.  I don’t care if you’re sick of hearing it, I’m gonna keep saying it.  Personal responsibility.  Being prepared means realizing that in the event of a disaster, I can rely only on my own resources.  Being prepared means understanding that if I’m attacked, I am the key to my survival.  Being prepared means comprehending the fact that by their very nature, all governments are corrupt, some just moreso than others. Being prepared means recognizing that no amount of laws, rules, regulations, restrictions, bans or good intentions will ever erase human nature.

For any members of the Ban Wagon who may be reading this post, did you notice how in the previous three paragraphs, there were a lot of I‘s in there?  That’s because I don’t presume to speak for all gun owners, or all women, or all people, even though it’s a fact that many think and believe the same things I do. 

You see, I give people credit for a certain degree of intelligence.  And I don’t insult that intelligence by suggesting that an inanimate object is the cause of all the ills in our world.  I give people credit for being human and accept all the good and bad that being human entails.

People are always going to make bad choices.  I’m afraid, that comes part and parcel with the free will thing.  So how about we all jump off team Ban Wagon?  And instead of passing laws that infringe on the rights of people who might make a bad decision (Thoughtcrime, anyone?), let’s just pass laws that punish people who actually do make a bad decision.  Gee, that sounds suspiciously like people taking responsibility (yup, there’s that word again) for the decisions they make and dealing with all the consequences that come with that choice.  We can’t possibly have that…