I was discussing with my brother the new law in Missouri that bans strip clubs from being located within 1,000 feet of schools, churches, parks or homes. My brother posed the question, “Why aren’t there any laws banning churches within a thousand feet of a strip club?”
I was embarrassed I hadn’t thought to ask the same question myself. In assessing any legislation, it’s a good rule to ask how would this law work if the roles were reversed. Evidently I need to remind myself to ask the question more often.
My response at the time was, “Strip clubs aren’t as popular as churches, and that’s how laws like that get passed.” I failed to consider what would happen if the majority view changed–what would happen if someday strip clubs become more popular than churches?
These types of zoning laws are the modern day version of segregation of what the majority finds morally repugnant. The laws are akin to the early colonies laws which fined, banished, and imprisoned those who did not follow the religious tenants of the colony.
The more I thought about it, the more I began to see more of these domes and bubbles of moral purity.
- The FDA’s thousand feet ban on cigarette advertising near schools.
- Firearms within a thousand feet of a school.
- Smoking bans near the entrances to buildings.
- Sex offenders banned from most of the city.
- Needle exchanges within a thousand feet of schools.
- Medical Marijuana dispensaries withing a thousand feet of schools.
- College campus bans which have included military recruiters, medical marijuana, hate speech, and credit card offers.
The zoning bubbles are all around us and, the bans are rarely questioned for having the ability to ban a legal activity from within ones eyesight. As an individual I do not have the right to ban what I find offensive or fear from my field of vision or near to my home, so why should some groups have this right?
I can understand a parents desire to protect their children from dangerous influences, as in banning the Jonas Brothers and or Britney Spears concerts from within 10,000 feet of their children, if simply to protect children from crappy music. As individuals, we do not have the right to ban what we find offensive, because an individual’s rights ends where another rights begins.
The group for the liberty minded/libertarian/non-authoritarians to fear the most is not among smokers, gun-owners, sex offenders, drug addicts or even racists. Underlying all these laws is the same tyrannical group–the majority. They’re the ones you’ve got to watch out for.