Thursday, December 4, 2014

True confession: I sometimes...

...walk my dog, Stewart, without a leash.*

Why? I don't know; maybe it's because he seems to want to stop every three feet or so and sniff something -- and that's a real pain in the butt. Maybe it's because every once in a while he just suddenly breaks into a trot. Or maybe I'm just a shameless scofflaw. Sue me.

But, whatever the reason, I know I'm breaking the law. And every so often a cop will stop and tell me to put Stew back on his leash. I usually mutter something like, "Certainly officer," and comply (at least until the cop is out of sight). It's the law, and it's the cop's job to enforce it. I get that. And if he were to give me a ticket I'd probably bitch and moan but end up paying the fine anyway. I'm a grownup and understand the rules of the game.

Why do I bring this up? In my last post I talked about how ridiculous it was to blame the death of Eric Garner on New York's cigarette taxes. I tweeted the piece at a few writers making that argument and one of them, Robert Tracinski, actually responded:

I would answer you, but David Harsanyi already did.

Tracinski linked to Harsanyi's piece in The Federalist, "Yes, Stupid Laws Help Kill People," in which he said, among other things:

I’ve seen numerous tweets discounting this argument as preposterous. It’s something akin to blaming jaywalking for the death of Michael Brown, we’re told.

And, while I hadn't heard that, I thought, Yes, it is akin to blaming jaywalking for the death of Michael Brown.

(Full disclosure: my father is the only person in America to actually get a ticket for jaywalking. I wouldn't believe it myself if I hadn't been there at the time. But, then again, you had to know my dad.)

Or, to put it another way, if a cop stopped me for not walking Stewart on a leash, and I died as a result of the encounter, surely you wouldn't blame the misguided leash laws for my death, would you? Instead, you'd probably ask something like, What happened between the time the cop stopped him and told him to put his dog on a leash and him dying?

Right? So, I still think it's crazy to blame Eric Garner's death on cigarette taxes. But that's the kind of wrongheaded thinking libertarians indulge in. I know; I used to be one.

* Actually, I almost never walk him on a leash.

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