Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pris Sticks Her Neck Out: HB 2256

Virginia House Bill 2256 seems to be a divisive issue between Delegates O'Quinn and Kilgore, Congressman Griffith for that matter, and the Tea Parties.

What's the problem with this nice little bit of parliamentary language? Well, first of all, it implies spending tax money. What all Tea Parties have in common is a belief that Americans are Taxed Enough Already. But there's also a conflict between two groups of basically nice, decent, well-meaning people who want most of the same things.

On one side, we have legislators (and mainstream Republicans, like our friends and neighbors in Round the Mountain, The Crooked Road, and similar) who want (a) to protect our beautiful little corner of Virginia from fracking and similar horrors, and (b) to help people make money by marketing what we have. Some of these people think the way to preserve, protect, and market what we have is to allow "planning" as long as it's done by our kind of nice, literate, arty, sensitive people.

I can relate...until I started thinking, last September, "Oh golly-gee-whiz, if 'we' the artists and musicians and small farmers start 'planning,' aside of course from protecting our market niche by keeping others out of it, what else could we do to enhance our marketing scheme?" And really, when you've read what the "planners" have attempted--and succeeded in doing!--in more crowded and benighted parts of the world, you realize that the sky can be the limit. It's all being supported by powerful international interests that really want to thin the U.S. population and grab U.S. land. That's not a "panic" story; it's a fact that Karen Bracken seems to be spending her life documenting. But these interests, or the people interested in them, will encourage and even give us money to do all sorts of things that seem nice, but actually involve infringing on our neighbors' freedom.

So I posted a snarky little article about five fascist fantasies I could be tempted to act out in order to market my family's Civil War history as a nice nonviolent attraction for a small but loyal market niche, the "hardcore" history buffs who would basically pay more to spend a weekend at a boardinghouse if the whole surrounding neighborhood had been shoved back into the nineteenth century. And yesterday I managed to open, just once, never again, a four-page PDF article documenting that that cute little tourist train proposal described in SB 819 had been "planned" as exactly that sort of thing. People wouldn't be able to cut down their own tree merely because it was starting to drop limbs on their roof; they'd have to apply to the Preservation Society for permission to cut down or even prune the tree, because that would change the view for the tourists.

Thinking about this kind of thing makes some of us, as of yesterday apparently including Delegate O'Quinn, feel more sympathy for the other side, where we find some of these Tea Parties. Nice, respectable, educated people, much like the mainstream Republicans, only they've been reading more about U.N. Agenda 21, thanks to Karen Bracken and others. Actually, the mainstream Republicans have by now embraced the idea of defeating Agenda 21, the agenda of those international interests that really want to do to us what a lot of our ancestors, if not Delegate Kilgore's or mine, did to the Cherokee when they came here. So the Tea Party types want (1) to affirm our right to own our land and use it as we see fit (I feel the same way) and (2) to oppose anything that sounds the least bit like Agenda 21, which is hard, because Agenda 21 was formulated on the diabolical principle of choking cats with cream. Agenda 21 seems to be all about the same things we want...only underneath it's, well, not. It's so not. It's not even Poison Green; it's Soylent Green.

I have a modest proposal to make to both of these groups--of readers, and of people who aren't readers of this web site yet (but I hope you will be). I wouldn't dare to make this proposal if I hadn't done something similar while working for George Peters, and if Terry Kilgore hadn't been involved in that too. I doubt very much that The Crooked Road is going to divide people with as much emotional intensity as late-term abortion did. We started out with people from opposite points of view, and worked our way to a consensus, on late-term abortion. We can do the same thing with conservation and tourism if people will agree to try it.

The alternative is to go into permanent horn-lock and the sort of "Vote against this legislator, no vote for this other legislator, no this legislator is the Real Conservative" blather that allows the Extreme Left to win elections in a deeply conservative State. Delegate Kilgore is neck-deep in verbiage at the moment and probably isn't going to read this right away, but I'm sure that, after the legislative session, he can still remember George Peters saying "You can do better than that!" We can, and we should, and a web page is the perfect place to do it. Much more efficient than working with taped discussions among blind people. (The discussion is of course open to blind people; this is the twenty-first century, and they have Optacons and can participate as efficiently as anyone else can.)

I mediated the abortion debate, mainly because I was physically better qualified than the mostly disabled senior citizens who did much of the debating. I'm willing to mediate in a Crooked Road debate too. Or if discussants want someone else to mediate, that's also fine, but I have this web site.

If chosen to mediate, I propose two rules:

(1) No matter how infuriating the other side's argument is, don't make yours ad hominem. I remember, during the abortion debate, yanking tapes out of the machine and throwing them across the room. I think everyone did. So, okay, privately we can say things like "Who elected this person?" and "Nobody would ever have elected this person" and so on. But we have to keep up the quest for consensus, come up with answers that will be acceptable to the public, and avoid letting the fiscal conservatives of this Commonwealth be divided and conquered by our real mutual adversaries.

(2) The use of force or compulsion is inherently wrong and is justified only to prevent material injury being done to another person. Or, in more specifically applicable terms...the things the "planners" present as long-term goals are often excellent things, but if so the focus needs to be on selling them to people rather than forcing them on people. Like, a tourist train could be a ton of fun for everyone involved if the people operating the train weren't trying to interfere with property owners' right to use their own trees as they saw fit. Or, fracking can be opposed on the grounds that it would do material injury to other people, rather than needing to be opposed because it would interfere with a "plan" somebody is trying to force upon the rest of us.

I'm not attached to the idea of mediating this debate, myself, at all. I am attached to the idea that we have to have it--probably we should have had it last year, because it doesn't fit into the legislative session's schedule. I think it will be easier for consensus to be reached if, instead of doing a formal debate as a one-hour or two-hour performance, we do an informal discussion over a few months, drawing in and educating more people and collecting more input, as Mr. Peters did with the abortion debate. I have the clear memory of how this was done, and how rewarding it was in the end. If someone else feels more qualified to do it, let that person step forward.