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September 28, 2014

The government frequently uses our altruistic sensitivities to leverage limits on our liberties.

Environmental concerns often tops the list.

Consider, for example, regulations that require a  permit for photographing nature on federally owned park land.

Ostensibly the rules apply only to photographers with a profit motive. That is, professionals, such as news crews or those who plan to market their snapshots on the Internet risk being fined $1,000. Wedding photographers could unwittingly wind up in jail if they fail to obtain a $1,500 permit before venturing onto scenic grounds.


• Probable cause

Who's to say the motive behind a guy with an iPod?

Does the regulation gives park police probable cause to confiscate camcorders from tourists?

The excuse provided by a Forest Service spokesperson claims the law protects the wilderness from being exploited by photographers.

Seems to me photographers are being exploited by the Forest Service.


• Slippery slope

If the government can successfully limit our liberties to record in public parks, what's next? Will the government broaden the regulation to include all public spaces, including roads? Will recording a traffic stop become probable cause? What about dash cams on vehicles?

I know of no one who wants to see our wilderness turned into shopping malls or smoke-spewing factories. It is that consensus that is exploited by the government to impede upon our liberties.


• Wherever there is air

The Environmental Protection Agency, for example, has cracked down on wood-burning stoves using environmental concerns as an excuse. In reality, the government wants to keep us on the grid and within their scope and control. Likewise, water on any property -- including a puddle in your driveway -- can give the feds an excuse to invade your private home. After all, a drop of oil in a puddle could find its way downstream and cause untold damage to the pristine environment.

In short, wherever there is air there is the prospect for government regulation and probable cause using environmental protect as the excuse.

From our news source we read:
The U.S. Forest Service has put forward a ridiculous new set of rules which includes a mandatory permit for taking pictures of federally owned park land for commercial or professional purposes.  The permit would cost roughly $1,500 and photographers who are caught taking pictures without a permit will be fined up to $1,000.

Liz Close, a spokesperson for the Forest Service, says that the laws are intended to “preserve the untamed character of the country’s wilderness”, whatever that means.  According to the agency, these laws were created to protect the environment and prevent areas of wilderness from being “exploited” by photographers.

Close argued that the regulation has been in place for the past four years, but it has been largely unenforced.  Close was not even sure if there was anyone on the books who has actually applied for a permit over the past few years.

In 2010, the Forest Service attempted to use these rules to prevent an Idaho Public Television crew from entering federal park land to film student conservation workers.  However, this created such a controversy that the agency was forced to allow the filming to take place.

Gregg Leslie, the legal defense director at the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in Alexandria, Va. says that these permit laws could be used to discourage journalists from covering certain topics or gaining access to certain areas.

“It’s pretty clearly unconstitutional, they would have to show an important need to justify these limits, and they just can’t,” he said.
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2 comments:

  1. One of the big drivers of all of these petty, tyrannical regulations is the fine that accompanies the breach of the myriad, unfathomable regulations. It is just another tax, just another source of income for government, that is the primary motive, a giant looting scheme a few dollars at a time. The arbitrary use of government power with the ever present threat of impoverishment and possibly prison time has a bonus for government, it keeps the proles in line through fear of the government landing on them next time.

    There is also the Stockholm Syndrome as those who are faced with ruin and prison for breaking obscure, arbitrary and destructive regulations are let off with a lesser penalty. Typically the victim of just such a legal persecution will lick the hand of the government for showing "leniency" and not crushing him with the full force of its arbitrary, anonymous, bureaucratic power. This is one of the techniques used in tyrannies to maintain control of the populace through self-control. Everyone is always in violation of some regulation but few are prosecuted making everyone very careful to stay on the "good" side of government. That and the fact that government in the U.S. provides about half the population with their daily bread through various welfare schemes keeps the population docile, that is until the dollar goes bad. After that, all bets are off.

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  2. Apparently, taking photos on public parkland is verboten because it can can damage the fragile environment, and yet in TV ads I see SUVs being driven around recklessly in pristine natural areas. Is this just another advertising fantasy, kind of like the black engineers and scientists that must also be shown in every TV ad nowadays.

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