Following the April ignominy of then-Supreme Court nominee Kitanji Brown Jackson being unable to tell Senator Martha Blackburn what a “woman” is, the United States population now gets to witness another stellar moment of Orwellian nonsense.
It seems that the problem of understanding “the birds and the bees” has spread to California, where the government for “official purposes” literally is categorizing bees...as fish.
And why would the court do that?
To bolster government power, of course.
People often forget that the more areas of life they cede to government “protection,” the more the government power will corrupt their language.
I warned about this when it came to marriage, writing in 2006 about how the late 1800’s American move to have government “license” marriage and those who could conduct legal weddings saw people battling over the meaning of “marriage” as defined by the government, not one’s voluntarily-visited church. That error would, as I noted for the Mises Institute, see traditionally conservative people fight to have the government block gay marriages. But because they continued to see the political world define “marriage,” this move by conservatives also eventually would backfire for them, seeing precisely what those conservatives didn’t want to see: the government defining marriage in a way that opened the door to same-sex weddings as legal constructs.
The more power one hands to the state, the less freedom one has, and the more of reality will be shaped to conform to political desires, not truth.
Thus, we see the California appeals court, and bee-fish, the latest monstrosity created, not through government DNA or mRNA experimentation, but through the fallacy of letting government handle “the environment.”
The issue was whether the bumble bee, a terrestrial invertebrate, falls within the definition of fish – a division in the list of endangered species and threatened species in the California Endangered Species Act.
The act identifies the protected species, in separate divisions, as ‘bird, mammal, fish, amphibian, reptile, or plant.’
Yep. The California Endangered Species Act.
Which means we’ll soon open the door to the nexus between environmental protection, private property, liability, and commerce-strangling government turf-taking through “regulation.”
It all started in a 2019 lawsuit between large agricultural groups in the state — such as almond and citrus growers — and the California Fish and Game Commission.
The lawsuit specifically set out to determine whether the commission exceeded its authority when it designated four bumble bee species as endangered species – the Crotch bumble bee, the Franklin bumble bee, the Suckley cuckoo bumble bee and the Western bumble bee – calling them invertebrates, therefore falling under CESA’s definition of fish.
But how, one might inquire, would the state’s presence in this area be a drawback?
It’s a problem because these agricultural interests grow crops that attract the insects, and so bureaucratic busybodies who know about that will move in to restrict certain types of harvest or fertilizing or other activities on the property of those business owners.
Literally this is a case wherein the businesses that have helped the hives proliferate are being told that, because of the proliferation, they can’t utilize their land as they intend. That’s a form of taking – a regulatory taking – that is no different than government agents telling you that you can’t use your own garage because a mouse has moved in.
The point is that, regardless of the rationale or stated government justification, the claim over your property is supposed to be wholly your own, and not that of other people who never bought the land. But, because people don’t’ question the illegitimate foundation of government “regulation,” the state has inserted itself, and the argument has centered only on what the “endangered species” categories are.
Which has led the bureaucrats and government lawyers to do some tricky word play.
Voila, bees are “flying invertebrates” – aka, fish – that are covered by the act, and the state can tell farmers how to handle land that might attract those four kinds of bees.
In the ruling, the courts gave the commission the legal authority to list invertebrate species as endangered, even if they are not aquatic animals.
‘We next consider whether the commission’s authority is limited to listing only aquatic invertebrates,’ the ruling stated. ‘We conclude the answer is, “no.” Although the term fish is colloquially and commonly understood to refer to aquatic species, the term of art employed by the Legislature in the definition of fish in section 45 is not so limited.’
The lessons keep piling up, but they have been visible for a long time.
For conservation interests and pollution to be deemed “problems,” real people have to be allowed to assess the degree of their problematic nature and compare that to other “problems.” This requires personal valuation, private property interest and full ownership, liability for injury of others’ property, and price-attachment to the issues.
Government does not allow any of these.
And as it invades more of our world, where we could make these decisions for ourselves, so, too, does government invade the language, creating “official” definitions of things that would best be determined by us members of society, based on our own values.
The environment will not go to ruin if we are allowed freedom and personal responsibility. And neither will the language.
George Orwell tried to teach people about that in 1948, when he released “1984” and warned us of the danger of "Ministry of Truth" bureaucrats redefining our most basic words. And on the federal and state levels, government agents try to do that, without end
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