What's In a Name
Greg Ordy, June 1999
One way to measure the degree of institutional imbalance is to see how the institutions refer to their members, their constituents. Our language has developed words to describe the members of an institution. It should be possible for the institution to do it's work using only the correct member names. If the names no longer apply, then the institution has drifted.
I am concerned that our government is drifting way beyond its intended and best applications. It is more and more involved in areas that it simply does not belong. It is a drift towards socialism. This becomes easy to see if you believe, as I do, that the institution of government should do all of its business with citizens, no more or less.
I do mean citizen, as opposed to male citizen, or female citizen, or child, or white citizen, or black citizen, or Jewish citizen, or Protestant citizen, or straight citizen, or gay citizen, or any other type of citizen. All of these differences should be invisible to the government. All of the laws and rules and regulations that require these differences, or are based upon these differences, are most likely misguided. Government should worry about citizens, without regard, or even acknowledgement of, other factors.
Of course as government gets into more areas of life, we add additional categories, endless categories. The government worries about working citizens (to tax them), retired citizens, even sick citizens (Medicare and health care).
One legitimate category for the government to be involved in is the criminal citizen. When laws are broken, citizens should be removed from the streets for a time period that is appropriate for the crime. When that time is over, they are again a citizen. It should be that simple. I say that not because of compassion for the criminal, but to protect the citizens at large. We should not have to worry what our neighbor is up to. Government is creating a mess in that area by introducing labels, such as sexual predator. Apparently because we lack the resolve to lock up criminals for an appropriate length of time we let them out early but try to make us feel better by giving them a label, again, such as sexual predator. Do we really want to live with sexual predator citizens?
What are the rest of us supposed to do with that information, with that label? Goodness knows we have to be careful, else we discriminate against the sexual predator, or violate their rights. About all we can do with the label is live in fear. One of the roles of government, especially in a free society, is to make it possible for all of us to feel that anybody walking the streets is a citizen in good standing. Not a citizen who is on some government list. Sadly, the socialist has always wanted to promote fear, as a mechanism to encourage individuals to give up their freedom voluntarily.
Government should be gender-blind, and color-blind, and race-blind and everything-blind. This is not to at all imply that there are not problems, perhaps serious problems, within or between those groups. All I'm claiming is that the government is the wrong institution to get involved in the solution.
Every time you hear a politician talk, imagine that rather than breaking us up into groups and classes, the only word they could use to describe any of us is citizen. They would talk a lot less, and we would have a lot less problems. Most politicians cannot even talk without starting from a position that fragments all of us citizens into groups.
Copyright (c) 1999, Greg Ordy
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