It is not often that one recognizes a significant turning point in history while it is happening — yet here we are. Right now in Austin, change is a-brewing. We are in the midst of a vicious turmoil that, if left unchallenged, could easily warp the routine goings-on of our everyday lives. One concerned Austinite has already spoken out, saying, “I have questions about Big Brother deciding what I can and can’t do.” Our civil liberties are at risk! No, I am not referring to Occupy Austin or March to Abolish the Death Penalty or Zombie Crawl. We must fight, at whatever cost — blood, sweat, tears, limbs, first-born sons — the plastic bag ban.
The Austin City Council has been agonizing over a citywide ban on plastic bags for the past six months, but as of Aug. 4, council members finally gave in to the pressure of Big Brother and voted to draft an unofficial ordinance. On Monday night, valiant members of the Austin community came out to voice their opposition to the oppressive ordinance, yet the debate continues. I do not see any justification at all for discussion. This ban should have been trampled like the very plastic bags it vilifies from the moment it was proposed.
The plastic bag ban is clearly a premeditated, gross encroachment on our civil liberties. Like the Big Brother that George Orwell warned us about, the Austin City Council obviously wants to monitor our environmentally destructive daily habits and brainwash us into dread-locked, vegan, canvas-grocery-bag-toting hippies. Just look at San Francisco, the first city to enforce a ban on plastic bags. Not only is San Francisco a notorious safe haven for those hippies, it is home to the infamous Chinatown and its trade ships frequent socialist Chinese waters. San Francisco clearly has been too heavily influenced by Marxist ideas for the past 70 years to be a reliable role model for all-American cities such as Austin, the beautiful capital of the great blue-jean-wearin’, barbecue-eatin’, plastic-bag-lovin’ state of Texas. Big Brother hopped a cruise to San Francisco, and it looks like he’s hitchhiking over to Austin now.
Moreover, this plastic bag ban is egregiously unconstitutional as it shamelessly violates the First and Fourth amendments. In regard to the Fourth Amendment, Americans have the right “to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” Clearly, the Fourth Amendment protects my right to possess plastic bags —my “effects” — and protects me from having them unreasonably taken away by the Austin City Council. Now the thought police may want us to forget that using plastic bags is a form of symbolic speech protected by the First Amendment. When I use a plastic bag, I am doing a lot more than simply hauling my groceries back home. I am announcing to the entire world that I support the petroleum industry and modern industrialism in general. “Drill, baby, drill” is my motto, the plastic bag my emblem. No government has the authority to take my plastic bags away.
This is just another oppressive law masquerading as an environmental protection in a long line of supposedly beneficial “green” policies. Recall the 1972 ban of the first-rate bug repellent DDT: a couple of bird eggs cracked a bit early and, all of a sudden, Washington was in an uproar. It is the same story with plastic bags. First DDT and now plastic bags — where will Big Brother draw the line?
Some would argue that likening the plastic bag ban to a Big Brother monitoring scheme is ridiculous and ignorant. Some would say that getting rid of plastic bags could be a simple process, a progressive measure and a necessary one. But whoever says that is obviously a dread-locked, vegan, canvas-grocery-bag-toting hippie — and a socialist for good measure. We might as well change our name to the People’s Republic of Austin now, before Big Brother makes us.
Hansen is a Plan II and public relations freshman.