Bureaucrats in Massachusetts appear to have modeled themselves after famous Cool Hand Luke character Captain, who, often told Luke, “What we have here is failure to communicate.”
Of course, most every failure of the government to communicate sees the civilian portrayed as wrong, and the government as right, and, in this case, it’s a failure to communicate and a lot more.
As WHDH TV 7 reports, the proprietor of the Southside Tavern in Braintree, Massachusetts, last week watched Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito say that live music was now "permitted," and he read the official government announcement about it. But when he scheduled live music, he got attacked by the government nonetheless.
Restaurant owner Matt Kielty said he received a call and a verbal warning from health officials after hosting a musical duo named KJ and the Foot Thursday night.
What did the government tell him?
They say the event should never have happened because singing is still prohibited.
Wait. Didn’t the state say live music was permitted inside bars and restaurants?
But, Kielty said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito’s announcement allowing musical performances from last week was unclear. He said he even went to the state’s website to check on the policy change himself. ‘When you see permitted to host musical performances, you are automatically think (sic) singing,’ he said.
But Mr. Kielty needs to remember that he’s dealing with the state, which has a monopoly on the use of force and can take people’s money to employ bureaucrats like Polito and Governor Charlie Baker without any worry of people opting not to pay if they’re dissatisfied, so the government has very little incentive to be clear or straight-forward with anyone.
The Braintree Board of Health and state officials pointed him to another section of the website which reads:
‘For live performances, singing and the playing of brass and wind instruments is discouraged. Singing is not permitted in any indoor performance venues.’
As WHDH points out, Kielty found that poor government communication more than a bit frustrating, telling the station, “It’s almost impossible to find. It is buried." But now, the tavern owner has to contact every band he’s booked to tell them they can’t play, because the government will punish him if they do.
‘It’s very, very frustrating. Every restaurant I know is equally frustrated,’ he said. ‘We are trying to get ahead. We are trying to gear up for the spring.’
So, by failing to properly communicate its “permission (kind of) to play live music,” the government has messed-up important plans for numerous restaurateurs and live musicians, causing stress and lost opportunities, and landing another blow on business people trying to survive.
But there’s something more universal to note.
Focusing on the failure to communicate and on the minutiae of whether one kind of music or another is “permitted” misses the larger lesson that this is how the collectivist “dialectic” expands government.
According to the ancient Greeks, a form of intellectual exploration called “the dialectic” pits two ideas, the “thesis” and “antithesis” against one another to result in a “synthesis” approximating the truth.
But this is extremely dangerous. Not all ideas can be “synthesized.” Good and evil can’t be united into a “synthesis,” for example, because they are polar opposites. Moreover, if the government controls what are offered as “thesis versus antithesis” its agents can present false dichotomies, steering people towards an outcome that has been preselected by the government.
In this case, the matter is not whether the pub owner was mistaken in not carefully reading the edicts, or the government made an error in not writing a clear edict. The thesis and antithesis both accept a false premise: the immoral and unconstitutional idea that the government can issue such edicts in the first place. Collectivists of all stripes – be they Marxists, Fascists, Democratic Socialists, or any other form of command-and control politics -- use this false dichotomy to give people “choices” and “options” that aren’t choices at all.
So, for example, the TSA orders people to get scanned or groped in airports, telling those who don’t want to be scanned that they are “opting” to be groped. That’s like a thug threatening you with a punch to the gut or face and asking you which one you want less.
Neither of them is a real option, because they are both imposed through force and threats.
To get caught in the details of this “lack of communication” is to miss the point that this “communication” is one-way. It’s a command from people in government who don’t own that property, a threat made against people who simply want to engage in voluntary, peaceful activity among other willing participants. Even IF the proprietor misunderstood, he misunderstood a command that never should have been issued, similar to misunderstanding a thug telling you to hand over your cash.
Until we recognize the underlying moral falsehood, and call these false choices for the threats that they are, people will not be able to feel secure in their houses and effects, in their plans, or their rights at all.
This tale from Braintree reminds us that rights aren’t subject to the dialectic, especially when the dialectic is controlled by the government and its choices always assume that politicians can tell people what to do. And it is up to us to remember the key lesson during this absurd time in U.S. history.