Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Eleanor Tinsley: The Queen Nannie

Last Saturday I mentioned that the mother of "quality of life" issues in Houston, Eleanor Tinsley, had died. The Chronicle then spent days praising her activities, and last Sunday ran a series of quotes from her. I had forgotten how horrible she was until I read that story, largely because, to paraphrase Howard Roark from The Fountainhead, "I didn't think about her."

Queen Nannie had this to say about the smoking ban she pushed through city council:

You know, people felt like they had a God-given right to smoke. We were taking away from their legal right. It was very difficult to pass. People felt very strongly about it and loved or hated me as a result.
People do have a right to smoke, though that right does not derive from God or from society. It derives from reality--from the fact that individuals must take action to achieve their values and must use their mind to determine both their values and the actions necessary to obtain them.

That Eleanor and her fellow nannies do not like a particular value does not give them justification for banning it. If that were the case, I would argue that nannies shouldn't be allowed to speak in public. For all their talk of tolerance, they are incredibly intolerant of values that they do not hold.

This is the very nature of the "quality of life" crowd. They believe that their values are inherently superior, and that they have a right to impose them upon the entire community. They pursue their agenda oblivious to the lives they ruin because they think that they know best. They believe that force is an appropriate way to achieve "quality of life".

It is sadly ironic that Houston's Fourth of July celebration is held in Eleanor Tinsley Park. The Fourth of July--Independence Day--should be a day to celebrate the individual. America's founding principles were individual rights--the moral right of each individual to pursue his values without interference from others, so long as he respected the mutual rights of others. But Eleanor Tinsley did not recognize individual rights.

Eleanor Tinsley believed that the individual is subservient to the community. She believed that the "public good" or the "general welfare" justified violations of individual rights. She believed that might makes right, and she willingly exercised her might. But that did not, and does not, make it right.

A new generation of Queen Nannies--such as Sue Lovell, Peter Brown, and Annise Parker--are fighting for Eleanor's throne. They seek to impose their vision of "quality of life" on the entire city, and they have an eager throng willing to support their cause. They may disagree on details, but they agree in principle. They agree that they have a right to force their ideas down the throats of all Houstonians. I don't know many people who would find having anything jammed down their throat to be an improvement in their "quality of life".

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