There’s a kerfuffle in Wisconsin over threatened application of The Law to the Amish.
Up to now, they’ve successfully dodged Uncle Sam – been exempted on religious grounds from a great many busybody-isms, including laws requiring the presence and use of seat belts and child safety seats in all motor vehicles.
Their horse-drawn buggies lack motors, of course – as well as seatbelts and child seats.
They don’t have air bags or back-up cameras or tire pressure monitors, either. The Amish don’t believe such things are necessary and therefore do without.
They also believe it’s their decision, their business – and just want to go about their business, leave others alone and be left alone in turn. After all, they’re not harming anyone else. And if they harm themselves, the Amish take care of themselves.
It seems reasonable enough.
That doesn’t wash for the rest of us, though.
Why should it work for the Amish?
Such is the entirely logical argument of a busybody with a gun – i.e., a government worker – by the name of Bill Winch. He is a member of the Wisconsin Rapids Board of Supervisors and doesn’t think the Amish ought to be exempted from anything – including other laws requiring driver’s licenses and mandatory insurance.
He has proposed a new law precisely to that effect.
Winch goes further. The buggies of the Amish should also be fitted with automotive safety glass, windshield and side glass – no matter what it costs the Amish and how impractical it is to install such things in a horse-drawn buggy.
For their saaaaaaaaaaaaafety, of course.
Their horse-drawn buggies should also be required to have headlights and turn signals – just like everyone else’s car. If this requires expense, so be it. And new buggies manufactured after a certain date surely ought to be required to have at least driver and front seat passenger air bags and comply with some sort of government crash test regime.
Amish teenagers must not be allowed to “operate” a buggy until they have attained a certain Uncle-prescribed age – and then only when accompanied by an adult – and never accompanied by other teens, unsupervised.
It might cause some eyes to open.
Logically – as a matter of principle – either all of us and not just the Amish should be left in peace to go about our business or no one should be left in peace.
Why should the claim of the Amish that seatbelts and insurance and all the rest are meddling twaddle contrary to their beliefs carry any more weight than the belief – just as ardent and probably better-articulated – of the Libertarian who also believes that it’s no one else’s proper business whether he has or wears a seatbelt?
Winch is absolutely correct.
Or at least, he is a consistent authoritarian control freak.
The arguments used to justify everything imposed on the non-Amish apply just as much to the Amish. If these justifications are morally valid then the laws based upon them should brook no exceptions.
The Amish, no matter how pious, are not immune to the forces of nature. If an Amish buggy driver wrecks his buggy, he might be injured – just like anyone else. And if he is not buckled up – if his buggy lacks shatterproof automotive safety glass – his injuries could be more severe than would otherwise have been the case.
Undeniable facts of physics.
So why should the Amish – but not the rest of us – get a pass?
Why should they get to live a simple, unencumbered, exempted life? One free of not just government busybodyism but also the financial pressure of having to constantly earn money in order to pay for all that busybodyism? The Amish man can farm his land, raise his crops and not have to worry about coming up with thousands of dollars every year to pay for mandatory this and tax that – including Social Security and Obamacare taxes. Or air bags and seat belts and back-up cameras and shatterproof safety glass. He has no dealings with the DMV.
This makes him a very free man.
Which is very unfair to the rest of us.
So perhaps this new law applying the law to the Amish is just the medicine needed.
Sympathy for the Amish might transfer to the rest of us. It might occur to some that it is unjust – tyrannical – to molest people who just want to be left alone and who aren’t causing harm to anyone else. It might get people to thinking about whether the justifications elaborated to push, promote and impose all the aforesaid busybody-ism are in fact legitimate.
And if they’re not . . . well, we might be able to roll some of this back. And for everyone.
The Amish are, indeed, throwbacks.
And not just because of their buggies and beards. They are living fossils of a species almost extinct: The Free Man. They’re not interested in your goods and don’t want to control your life. If you’re interested in their lifestyle, you’re free to emulate it and even to become Amish, if that is your desire.
In return, the Amish only ask that you leave them free to be Amish.
But that is too much to ask for people like Bill Winch.