It is always interesting to read some of the comments that other people make to the newspaper stories about governments attempting to make footwear rules. Ofttimes they will be pretty supportive, or at least make sense.
But sometimes it brings out those with a strong authoritarian mindset.
Yesterday’s article in the Columbus Dispatch, Those who enter Statehouse must have soles, was a pretty good example of that. In addition, other newspapers around the state carried the story.
Encouragingly, there were quite a few comments asking why the legislators were wasting there time on such a thing. For instance, there was this comment in the Akron Beacon Journal:
This is what our politicians worry about? Seriously?
No wonder this state and country are hosed up.
Or here’s one from the Dispatch:
Lets waste a bunch of time and money creating a bill that requires shoes in a public place.
And this one:
While may be a bit odd, I see no reason to make a law because of one man’s beliefs about footwear. It’s an indication of how much time the current Republican legislature wastes on nonsense rather than improving life in this state. Who cares about school funding, the deficit, fracking, gerrymandering, or anything of that sort? Let’s worry about making pointless laws about footwear, carrying guns in bars, and anti-abortion laws that will be overturned. Yikes!
But then there are always those whose first thought (and second thought, and third thought) is to be authoritarian. To hell with that archaic concept called freedom. Just do as they say.
It is always about defending us against those wackies that feel they have the freedom to do what they want. Sanity over off the wall ideas.
God forbid that somebody think they have the freedom to do what they want. Let’s keep in mind that simply going barefoot is a freedom that harms nobody (unless you count the harm from some authoritarian’s brain cells exploding). And the thing is, we all know that this guy would go ballistic if the government started talking about restricting something that he liked to do.
But here’s the comment I thought pretty much summed things up:
No bill required – just post a sign on ALL entry doors: Proper attire and shoes required. Decline admission to those who do not follow the rules – Neinast included! Proper attire and shoes (required) would show respect for our state’s capitol building and what it stands for….going barefoot in the state house should be disallowed!
It just so deliciously combines ignorance and authoritarianism.
First, the ignorance is that the Statehouse can just post a sign. There are rules for making rules. That is why we (supposedly) have constitutions and statutes and legislators. We the people recognized that government is so powerful that it has to jump through certain hoops to restrict people’s freedoms (unlike individual businesses, for instance).
Second, though, is the authoritarianism that says that we should restrict freedom to show respect for what the capitol building stands for. Now, I would have thought that the Statehouse stood for enforcing the rights of the people and freedom, so respecting freedom by restricting freedom has such an irony about it.
But I guess we can see that this person sees the Statehouse as standing for the overwhelming power of government to do whatever the heck it wants. They’re not even pretending to prefer freedom. It is all about the power of the State.
I also want to mention two other comments that struck my eye as interesting. One commenter very nicely saw through their transparent excuse:
“Statehouse officials have said some of the floors of the Statehouse are cracked or uneven and could harm bare feet.” — uhm, does anyone actually believe that ?
No, I don’t think so.
And finally, we’ve discussed here before just what is a shoe? And what is footwear? There was a fair bit of debate in JCARR asking about it. Here is what the commenter said:
“shoes or comparable footwear.”
Why not just say you can’t go barefoot?
That’s an interesting question.
I suspect it is because the Statehouse folks are really stretching to come up with the safety excuse. Remember that Mr. Carleton thought that socks would not be good enough to protect from the uneven tiles (guffaw!), and even thought that Vibrams might not be enough. So now they are trying to turn themselves into the shoe police.