Americans recently celebrated Independence Day, albeit in a country far less free than that in which previous generations recognized this country’s most important national holiday.
Media sources (mostly conservative) across the country lamented the disturbing decision of a small Oregon town’s officials to cancel fireworks displays in order to avoid frightening area birds.
One could say the actions of one small town is nationally inconsequential, but the trend of taking away what once were considered basic American rights seems to be picking up steam every day.
Bad decisions are decidedly not reserved for small towns; New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg sparked a heated debate over his support of government-mandated soft drink sizes.
The sad fact is that these examples are far from rare. Americans voters have repeatedly chosen to cede even more freedom to a supposedly benevolent government in exchange for it’s cradle-to-grave provisionary promises. The New Deal led to the Great Society, which led to the entire Obama presidency. There has been a century of specific spikes in government growth with incommensurate conservative gains.
We’re now at the point of government telling us what to eat, where to live, and how to smell. Lest you think the last entry in the preceding list was hyperbolic, there have been numerous attempts to prevent supposedly free individuals from wearing any fragrance whatsoever.
In policy proposals that smack of anti-smoking laws in their complete disregard for personal liberty, governments across America have tried to ban certain segments of the population from wearing perfume or cologne. Luckily, many of these attempts have failed at the legislative level, though such rules have been successfully implemented elsewhere.
Not to pick on Oregon unnecessarily, but city workers in Portland have been prohibited from wearing fragrances since last year, and all cleaning products are required to be unscented. The parks and recreation department in Jefferson City, Mo., doesn’t want anyone wearing perfume or cologne to any its functions. Visitors to a Bremerton, Wash., hospital must chose flowers without a prominent scent while both employees and visitors are asked not to wear personal fragrances. These are just a few examples of what an empowered nanny-state government can force its subjects to do (or not do.)
Their argument for restricting fragrance use is almost unanimously the fact that some people are allergic to such scents; some so-called experts even liken the effect to that of cigarette smoke. Although I do believe the reported dangers of second-hand smoke are inflated to an absurd level, I’m not going to accept the fact that when I wear my cologne of choice, I’m offending others in much the same way as if I were to exhale a cloud of chemical-ridden smoke in their face. We gave them the power to restrict smoking, and there was little resistance. Now they have the mandate to restrict whatever else they deem unsavory.
Granted, there are those who wear far too much fragrance, and I can see that being an annoyance to someone stuck beside him or her on a long bus trip. When legislation affecting an entire population is enacted to prevent the mere possibility of a mild annoyance, though, our priorities have become seriously skewed.
As an aside, if there are rules prohibiting fragrance, is body odor going to be outlawed next? If so, how are individuals supposed to combat such natural occurrences without some other fragrance to take its place? The bottom line is that we have no business regulating smell. As long as flatulence on a crowded elevator is still a protected (if despised) right, I don’t see how the inhalers of any other scent can possibly complain.
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