Sunday, September 02, 2007

Police have flour panic attack in New Haven.

The United States is sinking deeper into a mass psychosis. I’m ashamed to say it but Americas are nuts. They are crazy. The United States is a walking challenge to theories of Thomas Szasz -- who I happen to like. I know what Szasz would say since he said it to me once before when I asked him about a rather mental individual I knew: “Just because he isn’t mentally ill doesn’t mean he’s not crazy.” So we’ll leave out the references to illness and merely say America has gone off the deep end.

To illustrate the insanity lets cover a German running club called the Hash House Harriers. I first heard of them when living in Germany. The group is more of a social club than anything else and was founded in Kuala Lumpur in 1938. It basically involved individuals running a course through a city and then meeting for drinks at the end. They like to say they are a “drinking club with a running problem”.

The name comes from the nickname of the boarding house where the founders were living at the time -- the Hash House, a reference to the food by the way. So don’t get any ideas.

Originally a “hare” would lay out a track using paper. It would include false leads as well. But in recent years their environmental sentiments required abandoning the paper and using chalk or flour instead. And this is where the trouble started indicating the pure insanity of the United States, especially the police.

This little incident took place in New Haven, Connecticut. Daniel Salchow and his sister, Dorothee, who are Harriers were involved in a local race. Dorothee was visiting from her native Germany and Daniel, a physician, now lives in the United States (part of the brain drain created by Germany’s medical system). They were the Hares laying out the trail that the runners had to follow. And they used biodegradable flour to mark the routes and lay down the clues -- there is a system of intricate symbols.

They decided the runners should have to make their way through the local IKEA parking lot.

The two were obviously seen sprinkling flour marks on the ground. And the local morons in the police department were called. Unable to recognize flour when they see it the police evacuated the IKEA and closed it for the rest of the day. A spokeswoman for the Mayor said: “You see powder connected by arrows and chalk, you never know. It could be a terrorist, it could be something more serious. We’re thankful it wasn’t, but there were a lot of resources that went into figuring that out.”

I sometimes think that moron ought to be spelled MORON. The panicked police and moronic mayoral office didn’t figure out anything. They didn’t have the collective brain to figure it out. In reality, Daniel Salchow found out that the police and politicians were making a mountain out of a flour pile and he went back to the IKEA to inform them that their paranoia was a bit over the top. He explained the race and the flour markings to the dumbstruck officials.

That was a mistake. He should have left these brain dead bureaucrats to stew. His simple explanation resulted in him, and his sister, being arrested and charged with a felony. And the clowns in New Haven government say they intend to sue the brother and sister to cover the costs of their absurd over-reaction.

Apparently if some idiot in public office has a panic attack over nothing, and manages to inflict financial harm on their community as a result, it is not the silly bureaucrat’s fault. They immediately blame the people who they victimized with an arrest over nothing. What kind of idiots are sitting in public office? Estimates are that the city flushed $50,000 down the toilet in the Great Flour Panic of 2007.

The Harriers set out race courses around the world using the same methods. No one else has gone into panic mode over it despite races being held in dozens of countries.

Another bureaucrat, the local fire chief, argues from the “precautionary principle” -- a disastrous philosophical premise that justifies any hysteria over any imaginary threat. He says the hysterical Keystone cop reaction to flour was “prudent” because “Until such time they are able to prove differently (that the substance was not hazardous), we had to act very prudently.”

Basically the precautionary principle was invented by some Greens to as a fail safe measure to stop everything. Unless something is proven to be safe it is assumed to be unsafe. Proving a negative is impossible thus progress is stalled. In this case the theory was used over harmless flour. But what doesn’t fit? This basically reverses the burden of proof in the legal system to guilty until proven innocent. It is a major philosophical reversal of Western liberal values and the detrimental impact it will have has been ignored. This is just one case, albeit a particularly absurd case.

People need to realize that the precautionary principle is inherently tyrannical. It justifies government restriction on all actions unless, and until, those actions can be proven to be harmless. Oddly this principle never seems to apply to legislation, restrictions, or regulations of any kind. It is always applied to the private sector and never to the state.

I can think of several reasons that white powder might be on the ground. If the police are going to panic over every such incident life will become hell. At some point Americans have to come to their senses and realize that the responses are more dangerous than the actual threats.

But Americans have been flushing their Constitutional Rights down the toilet with such zeal that one has to wonder. Personally I’m glad that this incident happened, though I’m sorry for the couple who were stupidly arrested. Only such clownish antics by government bureaucrats will wake some people up to the extreme measures that have been implemented in the United States. Once the people see the bureaucrats as clowns then they may demand their freedoms back. Me, I prefer to see them as clowns, the alternative to that is far scarier. No doubt many are just clowns. Some are authoritarians at heart. And some, like King George, manage to be both at the same time. Welcome to America.

Hat tip to the wonderful Wendy McElroy who I manage to like more each day!.

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