Sunday, February 23, 2020

Good to occasionally consider 'what if'

(My Eastern New Mexico News column for January 22, 2020)

Everyone would be smart to consider "what if?", especially where their beliefs and assumptions are concerned. While it's not healthy to dwell on it until the thought paralyzes you, "what if I'm wrong?" is essential if you like being correct.

What if I'm wrong about everything I believe? There are those who believe I am. Are they right?

What if it really were possible to change an unethical act into an ethical one just by writing some words saying it's now OK? What if you call those words "legislation" or "the law"?

What if a group has the right to gang up and violate the life, liberty, property of others as long as they follow rules they've made up? Can such a right be created with rules? What if they call the act of ganging up "voting" or "governing"?

What if it's actually OK to use violence against people who aren't harming others? What if you call this violence "enforcing the law" and say you don't make the laws, you just enforce them; shifting the blame to others? Is it OK as long as you pretend the people themselves are to blame for the legislation being violently imposed against them?

What if it's OK to take other people's property without their explicit consent? You could call it "taxation", "fines", asset forfeiture, or eminent domain. What if you don't completely steal the property, but only steal its value to the owner through acts you call "code enforcement" or "zoning"?

What if you really do have the right to control what others ingest? What if you call it a war on drugs instead of admitting it's a war on sick people?

What if it's ethical to prohibit or ration self-defense and the tools which are most effective for that purpose? What if you claim it's about safety or crime?

What if working for government does give a person extra rights others can't have? Would it change anything if they call it "authority" instead of a right?

What if it's OK to be dishonest about what you do as long as you mean well? Never mind the real-world consequences, your intentions are what matter. Right?

Would this be a society you'd want to live in? It wouldn't be for me. In fact, I wouldn't call it a society except in the loosest sense.

I might be wrong. Any of us might be. When you're willing to consider the possibility you could be wrong, real thinking begins.

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Dumb activist vs the Mountainmen

One year during the mountainman rendezvous I was attending somewhere in the Rockies, a guy wearing cut-offs and mud (the mud was apparently intentional) suddenly rode his dirt bike into camp and into the rather active shooting range, between the shooters and their targets.

Shooting paused. Mountainmen grumbled, laughed, and watched to see what the idiot would do next.

As he rode back and forth he was screaming and yelling that we were killing Mother Earth with our lead and smoke (but somehow she was immune to his dirtbike?).

It was suggested he leave before an unfortunate incident occurred, but he didn't seem to have much of a sense of self-preservation-- which might have had something to do with either some recently partaken mind-altering substances or an unrelated mental condition.

Coincidentally, at the same time in another part of the camp, some forest circus rangers were "visiting" to make sure everyone was all "legal" and whatnot. ("Of course that's a turkey feather. Can't you tell the difference?") They heard the change of commotion and moseyed over to get involved. They grabbed mud man and his bike and as they escorted him from the area, they told him to leave our camp and stay away; that he should be grateful they were rescuing him, and if he was dumb enough to come back they wouldn't rescue him again.

He didn't come back.

That was the only invasion of our camp while I was in attendance, although another year some mountainmen snuck into someone else's camp to give them a lesson in neighborliness. (Which actually worked out well.)

There was always talk of PETA or some similar group planning to raid our camp to complain about our clothing or something, and to try to splash us with red paint. The talk around camp was almost hopeful. You don't raid an armed camp and come out ahead. At best you'll come out even... if you are really lucky. And sometimes there will be no one on hand to rescue you from your poor life-choices.

Good times.

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