Freedom. It’s constantly held up as the ultimate human ideal, the be-all and end-all to the world’s problems. We pay dearly in money and lives so we can help people all over the world be ‘free.’ Sometimes this means the freedom to abuse the group on the next rung down. So just how much freedom do you want?
You could move here, we have enough freedom to make you puke. Many folks here proudly stand by their freedom to be as annoying as possible because there’s no law against it. In seven years I’ve seen a distinct pattern emerge in my neighborhood—as old people who worked for the mining company die off, their relatives come in and dump the houses for whatever they can get. Still, many houses fester behind faded for-sale signs, and sometimes they are rented. Roll the dice. Sometimes groups of people buy them and turn them into their own exclusive heaps of shit and there’s nothing you can do about it. The houses collect more dwellers, junk cars, motorcycles, ATVs, and outside dogs. They degrade property values and quality of life for the few people left here who still care about the neighborhood.
The cars fly by on my street going 50 or 60, the speed limit is 25. A popular vehicle here is the ‘quad’ (satan.motors.com), a machine that is designed to be out destroying desert life, not raced up and down the street over, and over, and over. Ask nicely? Been there, done that. So now I’m the girl, in an adrenaline-fueled fit, who firmly planted herself in front of a speeding quad. (I too have the freedom to act like an idiot.) The quad stopped, even though he would have been within his rights to run me over. It was a kid and I yelled at him to slow down. I didn’t know it was a kid, they’re all suited up and wearing helmets. Ten minutes later the patriarch of the clan walked onto my property and threatened me. Of course I called the cops, and a sheriff came. The next day the guy stood in front of my house taking pictures. More posturing, obscenities, cops. I was advised to seek a restraining order, which I was granted the next day. Now, members of the clan drive past my house leaning on their horns and sticking their heads out the window while adopting their best menacing glares.
Why? Because they can. There’s no law against childish intimidation tactics.
A couple days ago I received a summons back to court to respond to the neighbor’s legal appeal that the restraining order be dismissed (we all have the right to this). I hate living like this so I was prepared to drop it, under the condition that I be allowed to have an amicable, or at least neutral, conversation with the guy, with a mediator. I was feeling relief. All I want is for them to have some respect for their neighbors. When you move into a neighborhood, trash your house and yard and use the street as your personal racecourse, you have to expect that some neighbors will find this unpleasant. No, it’s not life-endangering—except for our collective blood pressure. I’m not the only one who has called the sheriff. They’ve pretty much alienated what’s left of our little swath of people who give a shit.
I sat in court waiting and thinking. This isn’t a power struggle, this isn’t about control. Trying to maintain your home as a haven instead of a snake pit by seeking just a tiny bit of respect is a basic human desire—but not to some freedom-lovers. I waited, the judge waited, the stenographer waited for half an hour after the appointed time. The neighbor never showed up. He went through some trouble to get this appointment, had the chance to resolve this, and he can’t even man up enough to show. The judge had no alternative but to let the order stand.
Maybe it’s been bred out of them by the twisted survival instincts of overpopulation, but freedom requires a certain responsibility that many humans simply don’t have. Think twice about asking for it.
OK enough of the dark side. Here’s why I carry on: