By Jeff Bruce
To jog our memories, here's a quick definition of legalism from the ever-useful dictionary.com.
1. strict adherence, or the principle of strict adherence, to law or prescription, esp. to the letter rather than the spirit.
a. the doctrine that salvation is gained through good works.
b. the judging of conduct in terms of adherence to precise laws.
3.(initial capital letter) (in Chinese philosophy) the principles and practices of a school of political theorists advocating strict legal control over all activities, a system of rewards and punishments uniform for all classes, and an absolute monarchy.
Living in the Bay Area, I am acutely aware of the growing infatuation with all things green, eco-friendly, sustainable, organic, or endangered species-saving. However, I didn't realize the depth of this obsession until today.
As I was driving to work, I heard a local radio personality announce that on selected days this winter, it will be ILLEGAL to burn firewood in the Bay Area. Initially, I found this hard to believe. But sure enough, the internet (which does not lie) confirmed it to be so.
Read the following from the folks over at Spare the Air.
In July of 2008, the Air District passed Regulation 6, Rule 3: Wood-Burning Devices to reduce fine particulate matter air pollution from wood smoke.
Don't Burn Wood during Winter Spare the Air Alerts
Under this regulation, it is illegal to burn wood, firelogs, or pellets in your fireplace, woodstove, or outdoor firepit on days for which the Air District issues a Winter Spare the Air Alert. The 2008-09 Winter Spare the Air season runs from November 1 through February 28.
What does this mean? It means that whenever the sentinels of fine particle matter over at Spare the Air are so inclined, they can - by enviro-fiat - make it against the law for you to use your chimney. Presumably, they could make it illegal every single day this warning is in effect. And when is this warning in effect? From November 1st through February 28th. This period of the year is better known as winter, and it is generally the time when you'd want to use you're formally-legal wood-burning receptacle.
Recall the definition(s) of legalism above. I submit that this example squares quite nicely with definitions 1 and 2b. Of course this is more than legalism; this is legalism with teeth, since you are now breaking the law if you don't abide by the rule. And now I turn the conversation over to you. Is environmentalism the cool new way to be a legalist?