PJ Media encourages you to read our updated PRIVACY POLICY and COOKIE POLICY.
X

July 10, 2018

ANALYSIS: TRUE. #PermitPatty Showcases the Dangers of Overregulation.

The real face of overregulation has been in the news in recent weeks, after bystanders called the police on three young people in different states for peaceful behavior. The incidents serve as a reminder that an overly broad “rule,” even if rarely enforced, can be weaponized at any time. Such rules can serve to empower pettiness and bigotry that otherwise might have been limited to rude speech.

The three incidents all went viral, from the pathetic marijuana-corporation executive who called the police on an eight-year-old girl for the “crime” of “illegally selling water without a permit” on a hot summer day, to the neighbor who called the police on a 12-year-old for his summer lawn-mowing business, to the 16-year-old boy who was cuffed and arrested in Charleston, S.C., for selling palmetto roses (a longstanding Charleston tradition). Luckily, the police did not act on the complaints in the first two cases — but the very fact that people feel empowered to call the police over harmless behavior shows the pernicious reach of the regulatory regime. In each of these cases, the regulations in question were the sort justified on health-and-safety grounds.

And in all three cases, the children were black. These regulations may not have been written with race in mind, like those of the hallowed Progressive Era were, but the fact remains that this all-encompassing regulatory regime allows racists to act on their prejudice with force. Those who oppose bigotry, and yet support high levels of regulation with good intentions, ought to bear in mind that enforcement often falls upon those who are already marginalized, as we have also seen with drug and gun laws.

Never agitate for a government power you wouldn’t trust your political opponents to wield — because someday they will.