Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley’d & thunder’d;
Storm’d at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.
– Tennyson, The Charge of the Light Brigade
Picture those cannon as regulation and that’s probably in a nutshell how many of us feel about life in the early 21st century. But be warned: I’m pulling no punches; I’m telling it like it is as long as there is no regulation to stop me. If you don’t like this approach, stop reading now and flip over to FoxNews.com. Ready?
Ultra-conservatives think sperm is the enemy. Ultra-liberals think it is high fructose corn syrup or saturated fat. Ultra-conservatives want to protect us from sperm and ultra-liberals want to protect us from high fructose corn syrup and saturated fact. Interestingly, they have the same recipe: abstinence.
This is a problem for me. I’m talking about extreme positions. Take Vegans and their anti-meat-eater rants. I’ve got no problem with vegetables or people eating vegetables. I don’t even have a problem with people not eating meat. I do have a problem with people telling me what I can and can’t do with my sperm, and I have a problem with people telling me what I can and can’t eat.
Extremes are always a bit fascist, don’t you think? There is always a healthy dose of “don’t do this” involved. Choice is always taken from you. And this is a fault, I argue, both of the extreme left and of the extreme right. They both want to tell us what we can’t do. And what we can.
And as it turns out, there isn’t much.
You hear a lot of talk about the evils of big government and federal regulations but damned if both groups don’t like a healthy dollop of regulation as well. Ultra-conservatives want the government to regulate our sex lives and ultra-liberals want the government to regulate what we can eat. As it happens, I’m a believer in freedom of choice.
I am not an opponent of regulation. Regulation is necessary and our Founding Fathers recognized it as such. The government can and does protect us in many ways. We have the EPA to protect the environment, the FDA to protect our food supplies and medications, the USDA also address matters of food safety, but also natural resources. And there are others. Without government regulation of any kind, we’d be in a lot of trouble. Look at Wall Street; look at the Gulf Oil Spill.
The question always becomes “how much is too much?” Different folks have different standards, and as I’ve said, conservatives, while claiming to be anti-government intrusiveness actually love regulation as long as it’s regulation of morality-based or social issues. Liberals have a different focus.
California seems to be the trend-setter for liberals, whether its fuel efficiency or animal rights or marriage equality. Some of what come out of California, like the latter, is good. I give it my full support. But sometimes I just have to shake my head in wonder.
Now where kids are concerned, I’m a big believer in parental responsibility. I don’t want government or anyone else bringing up my kids. That’s my job as a parent. So if I don’t want them to watch something on TV I won’t let them. If I don’t think it’s a movie they should see, I won’t take them to see it. And if I don’t think it’s something they should eat, I won’t let them eat it.
It’s pretty easy really, and I didn’t need any government interference to get it done.
But conservatives here in town won’t let me buy alcohol on Sunday and liberals in San Francisco won’t let McDonalds put toys in kids’ Happy Meals.
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors said Tuesday that Happy Meals just aren’t nutritious enough. They hope other cities will follow their lead. McDonalds says this is government intervention. The Board of Supervisors say McDonalds “entices” children to eat this unhealthy food. They are correct in saying McDonalds is not the best choice out there where health is concerned but it is, after all, a choice. And where are the parents in all this? Do they get a law punishing them next if they let their kids eat McDonalds, or if they buy them a TV dinner and a toy at the grocery store next week?
I mean, most of these kids aren’t buying their own meals, are they? Aren’t usually the parents doing the buying? I am not going to feed my son McDonalds every night but if I want to treat him to a Happy Meal with a toy, that’s between me and McDonalds isn’t it? Just like if I want to let my kid see a PG13, or even an R rated movie, that’s between me and the theater.
For me, this is an extreme sort of reaction. If people simply decline to treat their kids to McDonalds (and themselves), then McDonalds will be forced by market pressures to improve the nutritional quality of their menu. Isn’t that more reasonable? After all, restaurants have to post nutrition guides. It’s not a secret. You can always find out what you’re ingesting if you’re interested. They’re not stuffing their food full of fat and corn syrup they’re not telling you about.
If you don’t like what’s on TV don’t watch it. If you don’t like what’s in the food, don’t eat it.
Seems simple enough to this centrist.
So the Right gives us limits on which body parts we can see and which words we can hear, and the Left gives us limits on how much fat we can eat and how much vegetables we must eat. I don’t like their attitude; neither of them.
Have any of you seen that 1993 classic Demolition Man? It takes place in a city called San Angeles in the year 2032, in what is an over-regulated, rigidly enforced “utopian” society where swearing gets you fined and that has even (finally) defeated the evils of sperm by making all sex virtual sex (no fluid exchange!). Sylvester Stallone’s character is shocked, and so should you be.
San Francisco is apparently eager to become like San Angeles. I’ll decide what I watch. If I want to watch a movie full of heaving bosoms and bare backsides while eating a fatty, drippy hamburger, I’ll by damn do it, and they only way they’re going to stop me is by pulling my McDonalds and my remote from my cold dead fingers.
Hrafnkell Haraldsson, a social liberal with leanings toward centrist politics has degrees in history and philosophy. His interests include, besides history and philosophy, human rights issues, freedom of choice, religion, and the precarious dichotomy of freedom of speech and intolerance. He brings a slightly different perspective to his writing, being that he is neither a follower of an Abrahamic faith nor an atheist but a polytheist, a modern-day Heathen who follows the customs and traditions of his Norse ancestors. He maintains his own blog, A Heathen’s Day, which deals with Heathen and Pagan matters, and Mos Maiorum Foundation www.mosmaiorum.org, dedicated to ethnic religion. He has also contributed to NewsJunkiePost, GodsOwnParty and Pagan+Politics.