Don’t make mountain out of molehill

Councilman Jeff Goodwin has proposed that Sweet Home outlaw the usage of public bathrooms, locker rooms and other such facilities by people of the opposite sex than that for which the facility is designated (page 1).

We wonder if such a law is necessary.

We recognize that this proposal isn’t occurring in a vacuum. President Obama has stepped to the fore and mandated that public schools allow transgender students to use the bathroom that matches their gender identity – prompting a backlash lawsuit from 11 states questioning the legality of the order.

Then there’s the “bathroom law” passed in North Carolina that has generated heat and hysteria from all sides.

Closer to home, Goodwin has cited a recent incident in Lebanon in which a transgendered individual sought to use a women’s swimming pool locker room.

There’s no question that this is a touchy issue. That’s pretty clear from our report of the Public Safety Committee’s discussion –talk about lawsuits and such.

We’re not saying that this isn’t and won’t be an issue for parents and for children. But like a lot of other things, the phobia may outweigh the realities of the situation. Meanwhile, passing a law like this on the theoretical possibility that something might happen is just one more step away from principles our country was founded on.

Severe distrust of government tyranny is one of the cornerstones of our nation’s founding. Even the early Federalists, who were for a central government, would be appalled at how we’ve consolidated power into the hands of politicians today – to the point that the use of bathrooms is a major concern to them.

Out here in rural America, that spirit is still there. It’s gasping for air, but it remains for however long – until we slaughter it.

Let’s just keep it a little bit longer. Let’s not live in regimented societies where every move you make might be a crime.

That’s right. Walking into the wrong bathroom, by mistake or deliberately, would be an actual crime if Goodwin’s law is passed as it sits now – although it currently is in a “very, very draft” status, as he put it.

In Albany, it’s a crime to drink a beer in public. In Portland, it’s actually a crime to smoke a cigarette outdoors, away from anyone else, in a park.

You can pay a fine, or worse, for these actions, which would be perfectly legal in another context not governed by those laws.

One reason why we should be leery of new laws is that they tend to mushroom and proliferate.

Private, independent citizens didn’t need a law to prohibit smoking voluntarily in publicly accessed private places, such as restaurants. In fact, Oregon was late to the game and had to pass its first ban just to catch up with where society already went when it passed an unnecessary, overreaching law against smoking in “public.”

Now it’s gone to an extreme as politicians and bureaucrats, who exploit unreasonable fear, tend to do. But that’s another issue for another day.

The one before us is a tricky social issue. Various moral codes can bring us to various conclusions when it comes to transgendered bathroom use.

The fact is, though, just like smoking, private citizens can actually work out these kinds of things more capably than any law can, and without the unforeseen consequences and lawsuits that inevitably follow new laws.

Another concern we have about Goodwin’s proposed ordinance is that it confuses private property that’s open to the public with actual public property.

Just because the public can go somewhere to shop doesn’t make it public or justify public management of the private property.

Our nation and many other governmental agencies have already butchered private property rights this way. We don’t need to help at the local level here.

This draft ordinance isn’t really interested in morality and private property rights. It’s actually all about protecting us. Goodwin relies on that already tired argument that without this law prohibiting people with XY chromosomes from entering an XX private facility, women and children will be exposed to predators using a newfound freedom for predat as cover for predators to enter a women’s bathroom.

Of course, predatory behavior is already against the law. As gun owners frequently argue, passing another law isn’t going to stop real criminals. Transgenders aren’t raping little kids and women, but predators are – sometimes locally.

Predators are already outlaws. They don’t care that they’re breaking yet another law.

One of the key purposes of government, as outlined in the Declaration of Independence when it explains why the colonies chose war, is to protect our rights to our own property.

Goodwin’s law, like so many others already in place, not only fails to do this, it expands the violation of our property rights the same way that “anti-discrimination” laws coming from left-wing social justice warriors and the Obama Administration will violate the property rights of Sweet Home citizens and property owners.

These laws do it by inflicting one group’s moral code on others, regardless of any actual harm to anyone.

The worst part is that this won’t even serve its intended purpose effectively. We can’t even recall a report of a predator attacking a woman or child in a bathroom or locker in Sweet Home. The claim that this law will protect us likely won’t even be tested, but we might end up sticking someone in jail anyway.

At a time when we’re looking for a city manager, when we’re thinking about spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy ourselves a new City Hall, when city councilors can’t find time to attend community workshops and meetings that could contribute significantly to the city’s direction in the future, why should they be focusing on this?

Let’s stop responding to every molehill as if it were Mt. Everest. Every social issue does not require a law to solve it.

The solution to every problem is not another ordinance.

The council should drop this and turn its attention to real problems.