We know tyranny when we smell it

July 24, 2011

There are two news items in this post, both of them about city governments that are attempting to limit their citizens’ freedoms – in one way or another.

#1: A couple of weeks ago, Reason ran an article (one of several) about the Washington, D.C. Taxi Commission and a meeting it had to discuss a new requirement for taxi drivers in the city to have permits called ‘medallions’. (Medallion licensing is used in New York City, Chicago and Boston, for example.)

The whole thing seems to stink to me, since medallions aren’t currently required and I don’t know of any problems arising from the lack of them. It sounds to me like a cartel is attempting to capture the taxi business in D.C. But maybe I’m wrong about that; I don’t live in D.C. and I don’t know anything its taxi market.

What makes me suspicious, though, is this. Click the link in this quote to see a video of a reporter being arrested for recording a public meeting.

And the commission is so wary of scrutiny that when reporter Pete Tucker snapped a photo on his cellphone at a recent public meeting he was dragged out and arrested.

Reason.tv Producer Jim Epstein captured Tucker’s arrest on his mobile phone. Later, Epstein was also arrested after resisting attempts by the taxi commission and us park police to confiscate his camera phone. When Tucker was arrested, cab drivers, stormed out of the meeting in protest.

This clip of D.C. taxi drivers protesting the meeting was produced by Reason.TV. One of the cabbies is spot on: "We know tyranny when we smell it. And we are not going to take this stinking smell again."

#2: Paul sent a link to this news report from Gould, Arkansas, where the city council wants to ban a group it doesn’t approve of. But wait, there’s more: it also wants to require any group in the city to get its approval before holding meetings. What color is the sky on their planet?

The mayor of Gould nails it: “This is America. […] And in America you just can’t vote and violate peoples’ constitutional rights.”

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