According to Jackie Salo, of The New York Post, Vermont Democrat Senator John Rodgers just filed a bill to ban cell phone use for all residents under the age of 21 years. In detail, the attention-grabbing proposal would:
…punish anyone under the age threshold found with a cellphone with up to one year in prison, a $1,000 fine or both…
‘In light of the dangerous and life-threatening consequences of cellphone use by young people, it is clear that persons under 21 years of age are not developmentally mature enough to safely possess them,’ the bill reads. ‘just as the General Assembly has concluded that persons under 21 years of age are not mature enough to possess firearms, smoke cigarettes or consume alcohol.’
Rodgers amplified his reason for filing the bill, observing that those evil cell phones can be used to bully others and that they’re often tools for dreaded…
Says the bill:
The Internet and social media, accessed primarily through cell phones, are used to radicalize and recruit terrorists, fascists, and other extremists.
Yes, “radicalization.” That handy, politically malleable term applied to anyone the governing or media establishment doesn’t like – that “dangerous” mental state caused by the equally terrible, sociopathic, virus-like problem of people hopping online and READING things or watching videos without getting government approval. It’s tied to that awful, dreaded phenomenon of “free speech” and the ability to interact with others that people from Newt Gingrich to Barack Obama have said is too risky to be handled by free people and should, instead, be “curated” by some kind of government entity.
Freedom of speech! Remember that nasty old thing?
And it gets worse! The bill reminds us that cell phones are also associated with other kinds of malfeasance.
Cell phones have often been used by mass shooters of younger ages for research on previous shootings.
But, before one gets too angry about the bill and the absurd assumptions in its text, it’s worth noting that Rodgers is not at all serious about its passage.
As Eric Blaisdell notes for The Barre Montpelier Times Argus, Rodgers is a strong supporter of the right to keep and bear arms, and said he filed the bill to make a point:
'I have no delusions that it’s going to pass. I wouldn’t probably vote for it myself,’ he said.
In fact, writes Blaisdell:
He said he’s a strong supporter of the Second Amendment and the Legislature “seems bent on taking away our Second Amendment rights.”
Indeed. Even if one does not want to acknowledge the inherent right to keep and bear arms and the fact that possession of an object is not an aggressive act, the logic of taking away a tool such as a firearm -- which is more often used to stop crimes than to engage in them -- could just as easily be applied to attacking the right to freedom of speech via a phone.
He said, based on the information presented in the bill, a cellphone is much more dangerous than a gun.
Which brings to mind Italian criminologist Cesare Beccaria’s 18th Century adage about banning guns:
False is the idea of utility that sacrifices a thousand real advantages for one imaginary or trifling inconvenience; that would take fire from man because it burns, and water because one may drown in it; that has no remedies for evil except destruction. The laws that forbid the carrying of arms are laws of such a nature.
Well said. In fact, Beccaria offered even more, and his words ring like liberty bells for our population:
They disarm those only who are neither inclined nor determined to commit crimes. Can it be supposed that those who have the courage to violate the most sacred laws of humanity, the most important of the code, will respect the less important and arbitrary ones, which can be violated with ease and impunity, and which, if strictly obeyed, would put an end to personal liberty—so dear to men, so dear to the enlightened legislator—and subject innocent people to all the vexations that the quality alone ought to suffer?
It appears that Rodgers gets it. And by showing the absurdity of prohibiting anyone under 21 from using a valuable tool, by employing many of the trite, banal, hackneyed complaints politicians and leftist media wonks spout in their attempts to curtail free speech, he exposes the absurdity of threatening peaceful people for engaging in peaceful activity – be it owning a cell phone or a firearm.
He’s gotten to the root of things: ownership is not an offensive action.
In fact, he’s become "radical," a term that harkens back to the Greek word meaning “getting to the root.” Like “radish” and “radius,” the word “radical” finds its source in “radix,” which literally means “root.” Thus, to be "radical" is to get to the source, the heart, the root, by stripping away the useless chatter and harangues.
Which is precisely what most politicians do not do, but which Sen. Rodgers of Vermont is doing through his surprisingly informative bill.
Perhaps politicians and loose-lipped media pundits who read about it on their phones will see their jhypocrisy. Perhaps they'll think again when they use the silly catch phrase “radicalized.” And perhaps they who are often protected by armed guards might think again before pushing more statutes that infringe on the rights of peacefully-minded people.
We can hope and keep spreading the word.