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Burn ban here to protect us

The case of an area man arrested in connection with an alleged illegal burn last week brings forward the intriguing question of whether a person should be forced to allow emergency responders onto private property in the event of such incidents.

Let’s be clear — we’re not judging that specific case. An arrest does not signify guilt. Otherwise, the answer to the above question is a resounding yes. We’ll just point back to the fires that ravaged large swaths of land around Ennis and Garrett in the last few weeks as the reason.

To elaborate, there is a fair argument to be made for the sanctity of a person’s property, especially in the great state of Texas, where pride of ownership is arguably more acute than in many places. We get that. It’s “big government intervention” into private lives when people aren’t allowed to do what they want with their property.

That’s a red herring in cases like an extreme drought burn ban, however, because government has a responsibility to control activities like open burning when there is a reasonable and obvious expectation that such activities will cause large-scale harm.

The liberty above all argument could be used to put the power back in the hands of “private property owners” who chose to engage in any number of illegal activities on their land.

That’s not how the system works, though, and even the most liberty-minded of us acquiesce to the idea that certain activities are just wrong. Like building bombs, growing or manufacturing drugs, dumping toxic waste into groundwater supplies, for example. Not that burning trash or debris in the privacy of one’s property would typically be on the same scale, but considering the tinderbox we live in at the moment, the county’s burn ban has to be respected.

If you give an inch on it, you give an inch to all and the ban might as well not even exist. At that point, there might as well be no efforts to control fires for the safety of the general populace at all. While we live in this record drought, people have to be held accountable by law enforcement for thumbing their nose at the law, even if it’s out of ignorance instead of indignance.

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Posted by on Sep 24 2011. Filed under Editorials. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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