Social Policy

The Lavatory as Laboratory

I have always supported the right of all people to be who they are without a political or legal war against them — provided they aren’t harming anyone else. That said, I can understand how the fight over transgender people in public bathrooms can make even the most tolerant person think twice about how this might affect others, especially women and children. Over at The Catholic Herald, I write about how and why this battle in the culture war is now pitting the Left against itself, instead of the usual Left vs. Right skirmish:

There’s a big difference between an abstract question – “Should transgender women be allowed in female bathrooms?’ – and a concrete scenario: that is, being a female, walking into a bathroom and having a deep-voiced person with the wrong anatomy follow you in. The first is a moral debate that costs you nothing to have; the second is a very real circumstance with which you or your children may have to contend. And when liberals finally do contend with it, even they start to question their own wisdom.

Often you’ll find that liberals act very conservative when no one is watching.


Smoking Bans Are More Dangerous Than Smoking

My piece for PJ Media today covers the latest proposal for a ban on smoking in London’s public parks. I then address the nanny state in general, which I believe ought to be called “the molester state” (for more on this, see an old piece of mine from The Daily Telegraph). One notices the swiftness and efficiency with which the molester state erodes personal liberty, while allowing major crimes and problems within the country to continue unaddressed. I also consider that ol’ Popperian idea of unfalsifiability when it comes to removing decision-making powers from individuals. Here’s a snippet:
Those who argue for bans draw from the bottomless fount of power that comes from invoking “health,” “safety,” “animal rights,” and “the environment.” There is room in free societies for protecting and fostering each of these, but the law-abiding citizen will have noticed that these concepts are continually used to dismantle their private lives. Since every civilization relies on the use of animals and the environment for its prosperity and cultural traditions, nothing is safe if “animal rights” and “environmentalism” are enforced to their logical limits. What possibly could not be controlled or banned in their name? Since neither animals nor environments can speak for themselves, there is always an infinite number of arguments that self-appointed proxies can employ on their behalf in order to regulate or ban what the proxies don’t like.
Enjoy the rest of it here.


Is the Desire for Freedom Universal?

What is freedom? Does everyone want it? Is it a universal desire? At PJ Media, I consider these questions, which arose from an encounter I had with an elderly man in a secondhand bookshop:

Even dictators and murderers love freedom: If one’s only goal is to take away others’ freedom, one must first use their own freedom to do so—the freedom to move, to think, to plot, to carry out an evil plan. Tyrants require freedom to practice their trade, even if it is only freedom for themselves. The opponents of free speech face a similar built-in paradox: they are speaking freely in order to argue against speaking freely. Even if they don’t realize it, those who oppose freedom in theory are usually for it in practice.

Be sure to read the whole piece here.