Monday, March 13, 2006
This morning, I awoke to find an anonymous commenter had left me a long, drawn-out anonymous comment about my stance on abortion. Well, actually, she left it complaining about Egalia's stance on abortion, but minor details--such as the fact that Tiny Cat Pants is not Tennessee Guerilla Women--never dissuade the angry, passive-aggressive cowards. However, in going through her comment, attempting to make sense of it, I was reminded of the guys over at Say Uncle. We'll come back to this. Conservatives often complain about the "nanny state," how liberals tend to get behind all these social programs that are basically enacted to make it more difficult for us to enjoy ourselves. But in reading anonymous's comments, I was struck hard by the consistency of her position--that people's private behavior that doesn't affect her is open to her censure. Holy shit. This isn't just a "nanny state;" this is a "busy-body state." So, I've been thinking all morning about what it might mean to think about the busy-body state. I hate to use the word "reframing," but I think it fits. What if I reframe the way I think about judging appropriate government intervention as the difference between encouraging a busy-body state and not? Which brings us back to the gun nuts, in the first place. I'm interested in hearing their take on this, because I think this has been their big complaint and I just didn't get it. See, I've been thinking about the whole gun issue as a broad, panicked public safety issue--guns are dangerous, therefore we must get guns off the streets--and haven't been too concerned with the implications of that. But today I read over at Say Uncle about the Democratic candidate for governor pushing the assault rifle ban by referring to the DC snipers, even though the guns the snipers used wouldn't have been affected by the ban and about efforts to ban colored guns, and I'm starting to wrap my head around the idea that there's a lot of busy-body-ing that is involved with gun control--that the gun-control crowd, in their efforts to make life difficult for the few gun owners who can't control themselves, want to enact sweeping legislation to make all gun owners' lives difficult, even though most gun owners have a legitimate Constitutionally protected right to own guns and their gun ownership will never adversely affect the anti-gun people. Isn't this almost the exact same situation with abortion? Here you have a moral issue that has been turned into a legislative issue by people who believe that women cannot control themselves and that sweeping legislation must be enacted to make all women's lives difficult, even though women have many legitimate reasons for needing abortions and what those women do almost never adversely affects the anti-abortion people. Even as I write this, I know that there are some pro-gun people out there who are going to be upset with me linking them up with the likes of pro-abortion me. I'm not saying that everyone needs to accept that they are moral equivalents--clearly I'm not saying that at all. But what I'm saying is that, in both cases, I start to get a sense of the shape and form of the busy-body state, in which grown folks who are presumably capable of making their own decisions, would have to prove to the state that they deserve to be able to make those decisions. The funny thing about the busy-body state is that liberals and conservatives both love it--to different ends, but everyone wants to stick his nose in and get some say in the private behavior of his neighbor, even if that behavior doesn't affect him. And so, I suspect that we'll have to look for interesting alliances on the left and the right to oppose it.