Free Markets, Free People
Stories like this infuriate me. They again point to the depth to which government has come to intrude in our lives. And yes, while this is an anecdote, it points to the wider problem of increasing intrusion and the loss of our freedoms. Tyranny by a thousand paper cuts.
The incident took place in a North Carolina pre-school of all places. There, a “lunch inspector” rejected the home packed lunch a 4 year old and required the child eat a school provided lunch instead, claiming the home packed lunch didn’t meet USDA requirements.
The child in question then ate all of 3 chicken nuggets for lunch as provided by the school and threw the rest away.
Now, the fact that the “lunch inspector” was wrong isn’t the story. The lunch provided by the mother was more than acceptable by the USDA standard which requires 1 serving of meat, 1 serving of grain and one serving of fruit or vegetable. The mother had packed a turkey sandwich, a banana, potato chips and apple juice. The “lunch inspector” mistakenly believe that the lack of a vegetable disqualified the lunch.
The story, as far as I’m concerned is that the “lunch inspector” exists at all.
This is the problem:
The state regulation reads:
"Sites must provide breakfast and/or snacks and lunch meeting USDA requirements during the regular school day. The partial/full cost of meals may be charged when families do not qualify for free/reduced price meals.
"When children bring their own food for meals and snacks to the center, if the food does not meet the specified nutritional requirements, the center must provide additional food necessary to meet those requirements."
Really? If ever there was a place the state has no business, its poking its long nose in my child’s lunch box. None of the Nanny’s freaking business.
Who knows better what their child will eat, the state or the family? Ever try to feed a 4 year old? Forget the fact that the lunch packed was better than the meal the child was served and ate at school, or that the home provided lunch met and exceeded the USDA guidelines. The fact that someone poked their state approved nose where it had on business is the problem.
Oh, and here’s reality of these sorts of misguided programs.
The bottom line: back off, government! The responsibility for children belong to parents whether you like it or not. You can’t both demand they take responsibility and then usurp that responsibility at will when the state decides it “knows better” for whatever arbitrary and god-awful reason.
This anecdote highlights a mostly silent and progressive usurpation of parental rights and authority. It is happening everywhere, because, you see, the “experts” always know best.
Sometimes it’s something which seems minor or trivial that sets this ‘wondering’ of mine in motion. I’ll read an article or short blurb which just makes me shake my head. For instance, from North Carolina:
Students in Johnston County schools looking to relieve chapped lips better have all their paperwork in order.
The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that the district has begun requiring a note from parents before it will allow students to bring Chapstick and other lip balms to school.
Schools spokeswoman Terri Sessoms says the policy was set by the county health department. Sessoms says parents were worried that children would share lip balm and spread germs.
It sometimes is a wonder to me that we’ve managed to make it this far in our civilization without the “benevolent hand of government” to guide even the tiniest things in our lives. Here we have a “county health department” deciding unilaterally to set policy without discussion or input from anyone. I assume, given the way this is written, that the schools are required by law to do what the county health department says to do.
But certainly they understand, given the policy covers the entire school district, that lipstick is just as likely to be shared (perhaps more likely) among girls? Any conspicuous outbreaks of illness or disease experienced to base this policy upon? Or is this just an normal, everyday, precautionary intrusion upon individual liberty?
And if the kids get a note from their parents, doesn’t that mean that the fears the policy is meant to address are now obviously circumvented by allowing the balm into the school and allowing it to be potentially shared? So why have the policy?
Yeah, I know, it seem not to be a big thing in the overall scheme of problems we face. And yes, you have to pick your battles and the hills you’re willing to die upon. But that doesn’t make the minor governmental bureaucratic intrusions any more palatable than the more major ones.
It is the little intrusions, piled one upon the other, that make government more and more a part of our lives. We spend more and more time complying with government demands and mandates every day – in areas where frankly, government has no business. And we, for the most part, meekly accept them.
In reality, this seemingly minor intrusion isn’t terribly different than the recent unilateral decisions made by the TSA to begin full body scanning and enhanced pat-downs. No discussion, a unilateral decision, and your job is to comply. The assumption made is the government has the right to make such decisions because their intensions are good and the public’s concerns are of, well, little concern.
And apparently, so is their liberty.
Originally posted at the Washington Examiner on August 28, 2010. Some edits have been made to the original article.
It’s an enduring doctrine in America that one’s home is off limits to prying eyes and ears, and can be defended to the death if necessary. It’s not strictly true, of course, and certain states have eroded the doctrine to a gossamer wisp of the core idea. Yet, we tend to operate on an almost instinctual presumption that, when we are on our own property, we are kings and queens of the castle.
The resisting-arrest conviction last week of Felicia Gibson has left a lot of people wondering. Can a person be charged with resisting arrest while observing a traffic stop from his or her own front porch?
Salisbury Police Officer Mark Hunter thought so, and last week District Court Judge Beth Dixon agreed. Because Gibson did not at first comply when the officer told her and others to go inside, the judge found Gibson guilty of resisting, delaying or obstructing an officer.
Gibson was not the only bystander watching the action on the street. She was the only one holding up a cell-phone video camera. But court testimony never indicated that Hunter told her to stop the camera; he just told her to go inside.
Taking video of police stops is becoming more common with the ubiquity of cell-phone cameras and the like, and so is the backlash from law enforcement as has been amply covered by people like Glenn Reynolds (the famous Instapundit) and Radley Balko (from Reason Magazine). From the account given, it appears this why Ms. Gibson was arrested. What makes her case unique, however, is that she was on her own front porch when the encounter took place, and that she was taken into custody on a charge of “resisting arrest.”
Salisbury Police Chief Rorie Collins explained the North Carolina statute, under which Gibson was charged, as this:
“This crime is considered a Class 2 misdemeanor and involves:
“Any person who shall willfully and unlawfully resist, delay, or obstruct a public officer in discharging or attempting to discharge a duty of his office.
“Obviously, this charge is rather broad and can encompass many different types of actions that are designed to, or serves to hinder a law enforcement officer as he/she performs their duties.
“This charge is most commonly used in situations where a person who is being arrested refuses to cooperate and either passively or aggressively resists an arrest or tries to run away.
“Another very common situation in which this charge is used involves instances when an officer is conducting an investigation and the individuals with whom he/she is dealing provide a false identity when required to identify themselves.
“As you can imagine, there are also many other circumstances in which this charge would be appropriate.”
Chief Collins wouldn’t comment on the specifics of Gibson’s case, but did allow that, in general one does have the right to observe a police stop from one’s own property. He also seemed to suggest that a charge of resisting arrest may still be appropriate in a situation where bystanders refuse to obey police commands to exit the area for their own safety.
“However, just as with many other scenarios, it is important to remember that every situation is based upon its own merits/circumstances. There are some circumstances in which the police who have stopped the vehicle in front of your house may determine that it is in the interest of safety (the officer’s, yours or the individual stopped) to require that folks move. As with other circumstances, it is best advised that an individual merely obey by the officer’s commands.”
Perhaps on a public street the Chief might have a point, in that a colorable argument could be made that the police are charged with protecting the safety of the public highways and byways, even where the only danger is self-imposed.
But to arrest someone who is unmistakably on their own property, and doing nothing remotely illegal, is an abuse of power pure and simple. Even if it were true that Gibson was endangering herself by witnessing the traffic stop from the confines of her front porch, how could that possibly be construed as “resisting arrest” or “obstructing the police” without eviscerating everything that the concept of private property (not to mention plain old individual rights) stands for? Taking such a risk is not illegal. Doing it while occupying one’s homestead should be recognized as unassailably within one’s rights.
Since it appears that neither the police nor the district attorney’s office can be shamed into refraining from such power abuses, perhaps it will take a fat lawsuit for violations of Gibson’s (et al.) constitutional rights to get their attention.
The castle walls may be crumbling and decayed, but the invaders can be fought back and the walls rebuilt.