Or maybe just men against lawyers. These two stories have something in common, but I’m not quite sure what.
In California, “police and firefighters stood by and watched as a man drowned.” The water was too shallow for the Coast Guard boat. Their helicopter was on another call. “The Alameda Fire Department says budget constraints are preventing it from recertifying its firefighters in land-based water rescues. Without it, the city would be open to liability.” — Alameda police, firefighters watch as man drowns; seen here. There are good reasons not to jump in the water to rescue a drowning man. That it might open the city to liability is not one of them.
In Florida, police arrested two men and a woman. They’re accused of illegally feeding some homeless people. “Orlando police say they violated a city ordinance restricting the feedings.” Well, okay, I understand we have to have health and safety regulations, but I’m pretty sure long-term hunger is unhealthy. License fees, excessive regulation, fines, and now jail – these are likely to discourage us from doing what we should as humans. In the brave new world, I guess, all who hunger or thirst will go to a state-approved food provider.
What these stories may have in common is the idea of The State as exclusive source of legitimacy. It’s soft totalitarianism – “everything for the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state” – because anything outside state control might be dangerous or unhealthy.