Soon the annual pursuit of ridding the Westmoreland County parks of their seasonal resident Canada geese population is set to begin. Without using humane means to manage the geese, the county resorts to "hunting" each fall.
At any given time from spring through summer, Twin Lakes Park had as many as 60-70 Canada geese, including the several pairs that raised their goslings at the lakes. These geese have migrated and there remain only a small handful. These geese have angel, or slipped, wing and cannot fly. They would migrate with the others, but through no fault of their own, they cannot leave.
There is no "sport" in hunting an animal that cannot run, swim or fly to safety. These few remaining, peaceful geese should not be harmed.
By a split vote, North Huntingdon commissioners agreed to apply for grant funding to operate stationary and roving "checkpoints." What are those commissioners who favor checkpoints thinking?
Prior generations gave their lives to protect the freedoms and liberties we enjoy today, and yet these officials want to use our own tax dollars to restrict and control us. People don't lose their freedoms all at once. It happens one baby step at a time. Checkpoints are one step.
The failure of elected officials to place limits on police powers will incrementally lead to a police state. Although the new police chief states only three pieces of information will be requested during a checkpoint -- your license, registration and insurance card -- I spoke with drivers who encountered checkpoints elsewhere and were asked more intrusive questions, such as: Where are you coming from? Where are you going? Were you drinking? Do you have anything in the vehicle I should be concerned about?
What's next? Where are your papers? Your papers please. Show us your papers!
Are the commissioners representing the people's will, or imposing their own will upon their subjects? It would be nice if commissioners could place a question on the ballot as they did for the proposed recreation center, something like: Do you think the commissioners should obtain taxpayer dollars to fund police checkpoints? The input I have received overwhelmingly indicates it would fail more miserably than did the recreation funding question.
For the record and as a point of clarification, although the word "checkpoint" in the current debate is preceded by DUI, the prefix of DUI is not the offending term. The operative word "checkpoint" is problematic. Prefixes of DUI, DOT, seat belt, insurance, license, registration or baby seat, are irrelevant. The liberty-infringing action word is "checkpoint."
I am pro-law enforcement based on reasonable suspicion and probable cause. I am anti-Gestapo-style checkpoints, no matter what the prefix.
Quickie quiz on American philosophy: Which phrase does not belong?
"They who can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety" -- Benjamin Franklin;
"Liberty once lost, is lost forever" -- John Adams;
"Give me liberty or give me death" -- Patrick Henry;
We are from local government and we know what's best for you ... checkpoints! -- NHT commissioners.
The writer is a township commissioner representing the Fourth Ward.
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