1. Will Wilkinson nicely channels Mill and Kant against the paternalistic soda ban in NYC and its defenders. I particularly liked this line: “I’m afraid Mr Noah’s casual embrace of ‘baby authoritarianism’ illustrates just how thoroughly the technocratic paternalism of American progressivism extinguished the liberal instincts of the left.” My only problem with the piece is that the Torquemada reference has a kind of reductio ad Hitlerum quality to it.
2. Birmingham, Michigan residents exercised their open-carry rights as part of a protest yesterday against the arrest and harassment of a fellow citizen back in April for open-carrying an M1 rifle on his back. Although I’m a supporter of gun rights (including open carry) and I’m pretty tired of hearing about police abuse of citizens exercising their individual rights, common sense suggests that you should expect a little extra attention from the police when you walk down the street with a rifle on your back. The police shouldn’t harass or arrest individuals if they are engaging in peaceful behavior. And in this case, as in so many others, the police seemed to overreact – something worth protesting. A lot more common sense on the part of police would go a long way. However, reasonable non-harassing and non-constant police observation to make sure that a person with a strung rifle walking down the street in a place where this is not the norm is not engaged in a crime seems like the state exercising due care to fulfill its role of maintaining the rights of others against potential threats. If the police did this (or just talked to him, non-confrontationally and in a Jane Jacobs-style beat cop kind of way), there wouldn’t have been any news or problem and the world would have been a better place. Lastly, this sentiment, from the Detroit News, sounds about right even though she (and I) may not be well-placed to understand every choice to bear arms openly: “Longtime resident Margaret Betts said while she supports citizens’ legal rights, openly bearing arms in a community generally considered safe seems ‘silly.’ ‘Just because you can doesn’t mean you have to,’ she told the commission.”
3. Stealing someone’s property is wrong and ought to be illegal. Taking and using someone’s pictures from a computer hard-drive without permission sounds like theft to me whether there is a statute in place covering those particular things or not. If those with more expertise in the law than me deem it necessary to write a more explicit law making such actions illegal, fine with me. But won’t the market quickly take care of problems like this (and deter almost all cases where people might be tempted to do so) even in the absence of law: “Intimate photographs of a prominent Australian Olympian having sex with his wife were stolen by staff at an inner-Sydney computer shop after the star brought his machine in for repair.”