Columns » John Brummett

Free speech, free press, free buckshot


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Big-government conservatives infest our Legislature. They profess to abhor intrusive government even as they ever intrude.

They tend to be even more overbearing nannies than big-government liberals, at least in Arkansas. That's because big-government conservatives can pass whatever they wish while big-government liberals, numbering five in 135 at the Arkansas General Assembly, can't do diddly.

These controlling nannies of the right wing use state statutes and public policy to presume to tell you how to raise your kids and what you may or may not have on your person when you go into your church house to worship your Lord.

Now they want to waste your time in November 2010 by requiring you, when you exercise your precious right and sober responsibility to vote, to mark a ballot for the utter superfluity of establishing a state constitutional right to hunt game, harvest wildlife, fish and trap.

You were not aware, I'm thinking, that the rural male population of Arkansas was under any threat whatsoever when it abandoned home and hearth every year for the deer woods and duck blinds.

Every two years the Legislature is authorized to refer for our voter consideration at our next general election up to three proposed amendments to our antiquated state constitution. That does not mean they must. Absent something actively broken, a real conservative might choose to leave the constitution alone for an election cycle.

But, oh, no. This year they want to refer for our consideration an amendment to make it easier for the Legislature to put your tax dollars at risk to go in debt to subsidize the private sector. There's some big-government conservatism for you right there.

And they want us to consider inserting into supreme constitutional law this expressed right to be a proud outdoors sportsman.

“This takes the privilege to hunt and fish that we've always held precious in Arkansas and makes it a right,” says the chief sponsor, a nagging nanny right-winger named Steve Faris, whom the people in and around Malvern have chosen to bedevil public policy in the state Senate.

But the privilege is not in any remote or even conceivable need of emergency upgrading to a right. Thus we are being compelled to engage in an utterly pointless political and civic exercise, which is to say a distressing trivializing of our very freedom and democracy.

Passing this amendment will not change one thing in anybody's life, nor in any bird's or fish's or deer's. Not one. All it will affect is the sheer and hideous scope of the rambling verbiage of our monstrous tome of an excuse for a state constitution.

If you ask Faris what the compelling issue is, as I have, he will tell you that Michigan and Minnesota have gotten into it lately over whether mourning doves can be hunted. Some people in Michigan apparently decided to call the mourning dove a songbird, not a game bird, and this meant that, in Michigan, you couldn't pull a Dick Cheney on one and take it home to the oven.

First, no one south of Michigan or Minnesota has tried to pull this dove-hugging stunt and it's certainly not going to happen down here in buckshot paradise.

Second, this proposed amendment specifies that this new right to hunt shall be subject, of course, to Game and Fish restriction by regulation. Conceivably, then, the Game and Fish Commission could decide to protect the mourning dove. Nothing in this worthless proposed amendment could stop that. Quite to the contrary, it would expressly permit it by constitutional authority.

All this amounts to is that a bunch of small-time, weak-kneed politicians can please the gun rights nuts who rule rural Arkansas culturally and politically. And it no doubt will feed this irrational fear out there that Barack Obama is coming for the guns.

There will be one “no” vote in November 2010. That's unless I mismark my ballot.



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