Politics, Spirituality, Culture, Liberty by Adam on 2007-07-09 02:12

Does anyone else think it’s odd that you need a permit from the government to dance? Not individual dancers, but the owner of any venue in which people might choose to dance. That’s right, if you stop and do a quick jig at your local market, you could be placing the owner in legal jeopardy.

A ban on dancing in New York bars was upheld in court recently, and the Institute for Justice is fighting a case for a restaurant allow square-dancing despite the fact that it is not in the proper zone for dancing.

Dancing permits come from the fire marshal, who is certainly the first person that comes to my mind when I think “dancing authority.” The idea is that venues which have people regularly dancing in them will have a different occupancy level (as determined for safe evacuation in case of fire) than those that don’t.

My concern that government decides when and where we may dance in semi-public venues may seem like a small point. And it is - kind of. But I also think that you can look at this another way. This the most basic and fundamental exercise of human liberty: people gathering together to express themselves in an emotional and, for many, spiritual way. Freedom of expression, peaceable assembly, and religion: together these comprise the very first amendment to the US Bill of Rights.

My first year attending Green Sector’s Fourth of Ju-psy party, I spotted an American flag which was creatively worked into the decorations. “Yikes,” I thought to myself, “What’s that ugly thing doing here?” Sad to say, but the flag makes me think of the worst parts of US nationalism: George W. Bush, dropping bombs on other countries, protectionist tariffs, and so on. That’s the last thing I want to be reminded of at a spiritual gathering, someplace I go to get away from all the ugliness of the world.

But then thinking on it a bit more, something seemingly profound occurred to me. The American flag doesn’t represent bomb-dropping politicians, even though they are fond of using it as a justification. No, it represents the core values of the United States, as set down by our founding fathers in the Constitution and Bill of Rights. The most fundamental of those rights is freedom of expression, assembly, and religion - precisely the rights being exercised at Fourth of Ju-psy, or any similar event.

What’s more, the founding fathers understood, just as all true lovers of liberty do, that words and actions which are commonly accepted do not need protection. When people think of “freedom of religion” they think freedom to practice mainstream Protestant Christianity, and when they think “freedom of assembly” they think freedom to get together for a sunday ball game. But guess what? Those things don’t need protection. The true measure of a culture’s respect for liberty is its tolerance and acceptance of expression, assembly, and religion that many or most people don’t approve of.

Following this chain of reason to its logical conclusion, I realize that going to a psychedelic trance party is actually the most truly American and patriotic thing I can do to celebrate the Independence Day.

One comment per 'Dance'

  1. bryan says:

    the phrase “ban on dancing” has always triggered thoughts of the apocalypse for me. it’s hard to combine concepts more opposite using only two words and a preposition.

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