I miss Sin City
To the Editor:
Thank you, Joshua Longobardy, both for raising the issue of the decline and fall of Las Vegas ["Freedom," January 4] and for doing so in the pages of a newspaper that was, in its early stages, known as being by turns Libertarian and libertine. There are few situations more frustrating and disheartening than being a grasping member of the last generation of native Las Vegans to recall the days before oppressive social engineering made its way across the western border to undermine Nevada with its absurd Cali-forn-i-a notions of "public good."
I suffer both asthma and the recent memory of a smoking parent who died from lung cancer, and yet I strongly opposed the very notion of Question 5. As was my father, I'm a big boy with a working sense of self-determination, one I've exercised frequently when deciding which stool to choose at the corner bar. Further, I am a business owner who pays well above the minimum wage and yet recalls scrubbing fast-food fry vats for $3.35 an hour while in high school.
Longobardy's points regarding the reduction of self-initiative perpetrated by ballot questions 5 and 6 are weak only in that they do not go far enough. Nobody in Las Vegas possesses the entitlement to visit any place of business he or she chooses and to have that business cater specifically to his narrow needs, whatever they may be. If you visit a nightclub and you don't like the music, you respond by not going back, not by passing a ballot question forcing the club owner to play your iPod.
The laudable goal of protecting children from the poor choices of adults presents a slippery slope toward the loss of personal freedoms when approached via legislation; trying to protect adults from their own poor choices is a rocket sled right to the kind of socially engineered hell to which Nevada once offered a welcome alternative. If legislative protection of children from the vices of adults is foremost in our hearts, why stop with smoking in bars? Why not eliminate bars altogether? And liquor itself? And strip clubs? And casinos? This is the kind of "progress" that, little by little, erases the irreverent free-for-all of Las Vegas right off the map and replaces it with another bland Orange County upper-middle-class ghetto of sameness.
This is a symptom of a social failure of the first order. Children may drive pop culture and American society's unhealthy infatuation with perpetual youth, but when did it turn so much that adults are no longer expected to take and teach responsibility, nor permitted to have places separate from children? In my lifetime, we've gone from an era where children were seen and not heard to an era in which it's politically incorrect to think and behave as an adult. Children have always wanted everything all at once, and instead of teaching sacrifice and responsibility, the American adult world has turned on its head trying to give it to them.
As the nation has embraced Las Vegas and Las Vegas offers the litmus test for middle-of-the-road American success, the city has almost entirely abandoned its notion of western freedom. I, like Geoff Schumacher, once celebrated every change that brought with it a (false) sense of sophistication—a cheap Indian restaurant here, a pricey coffee stop there—but this Vegas vegetarian would gladly trade a dozen Whole Foods for a single adult-oriented pub that isn't dumbed down by efforts to cater to every misguided Las Vegas transplant and their children running from a state they already ruined.
James P. Reza
[Editor's Note: Reza founded Scope Magazine, which later became Las Vegas Weekly, and is the associate publisher of Vurb Magazine]
More Love For Sin
The article "Freedom" is a day late and a dollar short. Las Vegas is a police abusive city. American freedom doesn't exist. Everywhere you go there is a cop abusing the residents or visitors. Nevada is a true terrorist police state.
Too bad the leaders fail to see it and keep giving away our liberty to be adults.
Another sad day for all Americans.
A Sophisticated Argument against Your Notion of Sin City
It was former Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes who once said, "The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." Of course, the sophisticated Nevadan knows this is a paraphrase of John Locke, who stated that Freedom is not a liberty for every man to do whatever, but for men that have a state of maturity wherein using the Law as a Guide, know how far they may make use of their freedom, or how far the Law allows a Liberty.
Joshua Longobardy writes of the dream of individual liberty. But John Locke wrote that men divest a portion of individual liberty by joining and uniting into a political society, wherein the Majority have a right to act and conclude their communal will and determination. For as he said, while an individual may wish to behave in one way, it is necessary that by the consent of the majority, the community may wish to move another way, and therefore the act of the majority passes for the act of the whole, and carries the greater force and power of the whole.
Thus every man, by consenting with others to be a part of the body politic which is called the State of Nevada, puts himself under an obligation to submit to the determination of the majority. If the will of the majority shall not be received as such, and limitations and restraints on behavior not respected, then we have anarchy.
Let us take a look at Question 6. As Locke says, Master and Servant are names as old as history. A free man makes himself a Servant to another, by selling to him for a certain time the service he undertakes to do, in exchange for Wages he is to receive. It gives the Master temporary power over him despite what is a contract between them. Contracts, whether regarding wages, or marriage, can be regulated by the political society, and thus in Nevada, the will of the majority has required a minimum wage increase and at the same time rejected the idea of allowing a same-sex marriage contract.
The end of government is the protection of properties, and by properties Lockean thought included good health, reputation and knowledge. That means that the majority can legislate their will on matters such as public smoking and public education. The dream has not been lost and it is not Paradise Lost, but Paradise Maintained, thanks to "sophisticated Nevadans."