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Are Rhode Islanders Still Free?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011


"If I should later be attacked for neglecting my constituents' 'interests,' I shall reply that I was informed that their main interest is liberty and that in that cause I am doing the very best I can." - Barry Goldwater

Rhode Islanders can rest easy. Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio (D – Providence, N. Providence) aims to pass a bill that would ban a common veterinary procedure that removes the vocal cords of dogs and cats.

In a press release, Ruggerio explained the safety reasons for introducing this legislation by asking people to “imagine walking down the street” when, suddenly, an “aggressive dog…caught you by surprise because it had been devocalized.” As Ruggerio claims, “Normally, you’d be able to know that [the dog] was nearby due to its barking.”

Yay! No more dog attacks on the streets of Rhode Island!

Not that he needed to, but Ruggerio offered even more justification for passing his bill: “This act is inhumane for any animal to go through. Imagine if your ability to talk was suddenly taken away from you. We must put an end to this.”

Absolutely. Godspeed, Senator!

Apparently, however, the clipping of a dog’s genitalia doesn’t seem to affect Ruggerio as much as stripping a dog of its “ability to talk” – which is the animal’s primary tool of wooing bitches. In fact, it has been reported that Ruggerio, in defense of his bill, argued on the Senate floor, “For male dogs in particular, it’s not so much about the sex. It’s about the chase!”

OK, let’s not make too much fuss over Ruggerio’s odd reverence for a dog’s capacity to bark. After all, there is a vital issue at stake here: Ruggerio’s legislation embodies the timeless character of government to intrude on people’s lives.

Bill targets pet owners, not animal abusers

Ruggerio’s bill is not addressing animal abusers, such as in the infamous case of NFL star Michael Vick. The targets of this new regulation are the good and decent people of Rhode Island – pet owners who care enough to consider an alternative to euthanizing their noisy animals. Do these people really need to be put under Ruggerio’s control? For some reason, the Senator doesn’t find Rhode Islanders equipped enough to wrestle with this decision themselves, or to personally address the issue with their veterinarians. For some reason, Ruggerio does not trust Rhode Islanders with a dilemma as complex as owning a raucous pet. Rather, his impulse is to simply take the choice away from them.

Moreover, has Ruggerio even considered whether his bill would advance or restrict human liberty? Or has this question become too taboo in the modern era? Is it just more politically fashionable nowadays to express compassion for animals, and then pass another law that tells everyone else what to do?

This is not legislation. This is government activism.

Unfortunately, Ruggerio is not an anomaly. He’s a legislative commoner. He’s a Statehouse peasant. His bill is being co-sponsored by Senators John Tassoni , Rhoda Perry, Hanna Gallo, and Joshua Miller – all members of the RI Democrat Party, an entity renowned for its hostility toward the freedom of its constituents.

‘Tyrannical legislation’

The problem with the Democrat Party is that it is wholly enslaved by the progressive mentality. Progressives don’t aspire to higher office with a passion for limited government, fiscal responsibility, or even to protect the liberty of their constituents. They run for elected office not to uphold the Constitution, but rather to reshape the world we live in – one piece of tyrannical legislation at a time. For the Left, a perfect world is always just around the corner. Sacrifice just a little more of your liberty and, trust me, it’ll all be worth it.

Traditionally, Americans have always cherished their inherent suspicion toward governmental power. But progressives don’t view government as an eternal menace to individual freedom. Instead, government is their tool of social improvement, used to place the “uncooperative” under their control.

Progressives have illustrated time and time again that they retain the nerve to regulate all aspects of human activity. They instruct others on what they may eat, what they may drive, what they may buy, and what they may say. They deem themselves worthy and qualified enough to decide appropriate and sufficient “living wages” – yes, exactly what business owners must pay. Within recent years, several Democratic state legislators went so far as to introduce legislation that would force Rhode Island business owners to hire convicted felons – yes, exactly who they must hire.

‘Hopelessly enslaved’

So it is not surprising that a decrease in pet ownership, a threat to the pet-care industry, and more deterioration of personal autonomy has not a greater effect on Senator Ruggerio than his own personal sensibilities regarding an animal’s “ability to talk.” For progressives and Democrats, all possible concerns of others are outmatched by their instinct to breach human liberty in order to evolve toward an Earthly paradise.

Realizing that progressive Democrats have been in control of Ocean State government for decades is always enough reason to invoke Von Goeth’s infamous warning: “None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”

Today, with Bryant University’s Raymond Fogarty saying about Rhode Island, “The regulatory system is out of control,” and with Forbes Magazine calling Rhode Island “the worst place for business,” perhaps it is time to wonder if Rhode Islanders are still truly free.

Travis Rowley (TravisRowley.com) is Chairman of the RI Young Republicans, and author of The RI Republican: An Indictment of the Rhode Island Left.


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