Dissing Authoritarianism

A friend of mine, an older runner, told me this story. He was heading south up into the coastal trail from the new Muir Beach parking lot last week. It was dark. He was heading on a route that he and his friends have been running for decades. There was a  new sign posted saying “No Entry After 6PM.” He saw a ranger’s SUV parked in the lot. Uh-oh.

   As he crossed the bridge, 2 rangers were approaching him with flashlights. As he got closer to them, one said, “Hey you can’t go out here.” He kept running. They probably expected him to stop, but as he pulled up abreast of them, he sprinted. “Hey, you, STOP!” — shining their lights in his eyes. He flew past them and kept running. He felt good, like he was a kid again, as their shouts receded in the distance.

   He says he’s tired of the increasingly intrusive and aggressive attempts at control by rangers. Sure, there are things you shouldn’t do in a national park, like chain sawing or dirt bike riding or disturbing seals during mating season, but a solo runner leaves no trace, bothers no one.

   He says he’s not going to submit to rangers’ questions or follow their orders anymore. He’s gonna run.

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

19 Responses to Dissing Authoritarianism

  1. good for him.

    seems like there is a LOT of this kind of thing going on all over the place, latterly
    "increasingly intrusive and aggressive attempts at control"

    sort of reminds me of what I used to study, oh a hundred yrs ago, in school, about "those other countries"…


  2. yeah..guess I'll choose which laws I want to obey and which ones I don't want to obey..It gets more complicated if you do that..eventually it will be assault on a federal peace officer and then jail..go for it.. If you don't like the law change it thru the system..I see the reason for no entry wasn't explained..what did the sign say..did you check with the fed rangers and see what the reasoning was?….I can see it now, dark as it is, your runner friend trips over a newly fallen branch requiring medical response costing possible overtime and creating more problems and concerns than before..bet he / she would be right there to sue the feds for not providing a safe place to recreate..Oh, but he / she saw the sign..ever been literally run off the trail by mountain bikers on Tam on a trail that said no bikes allowed? Oh but its infringing on my right to recreate..BS..these trails were created for everyones use but there has to be some sort of regulation otherwise some folks would destroy our parklands..Granted, your runner friend probably wouldn't cause any damage or create any problems..but all people say that..even the ones that create bad situations that eventually effect all users..but again, people could not give a s*** about the long view, just selfishly think of their own please..oh, and what was the reasoning for no entry at night that was conveniently left out of your description?..guess if elaborated upon, would destroy the whole value of the park folks attempting to preserve the park and its values.. typical user abuse..not my fault.. these area's are not your personal playground at the expense of others..they belong to everyone..National Parks..get it..!..sorry to be so subtle here.. and what was the reason..oh wait..forgot..

  3. yes they do ( if law enforcement Rangers, that is)..and following this line of thinking goes…where…?…curious..

    Someone (Lloyd, this is your backyard..know any rangers?) should check with the NPS and ask the question? Why is the coastal trail closed after 6PM from the new Muir Beach parking lot? seems some info is needed here for a fair and balanced discussion..

    lots of people named 'Anonymous' here :)..

  4. It seems a lot of people, perhaps most of those who call themselves progressives, favor regulation except when it steps on their toes. There may be some valid justification for this night time closure but there may just as well be not. When you get government authority growing ever larger there is no end to the number of regulations they will come up with, all of them justifiably well intentioned, few of them being effective and just as many being downright harmful or counterproductive. The fact is some percentage of people will always act badly and you cannot regulate that fact away no matter how many restrictions you impose upon the responsible ones. Yet more and more individual choices are removed.

    The parks belong to all of us right? That's a laugh, camping in all CA state parks costs $35 per night, that's $1050 per month! Parking fees typically $8 for day use. You can't walk your dog on the trails in most of them even on a leash. Bring that topic up for debate and the crazy people who hate dogs will turn out in full force and vitriol to deny responsible dog owners that right. I try to spend my time in BLM lands that are lightly regulated.

  5. hey bayrider, did you vote for the additional $18 per vehicle per year DMV cost to totally fund state park budgets a few years back? yes they are expensive to preserve and keep up..Has this discussion turned into a POV that parks are not worth the trouble to support them or keep them available? Alternatives please..Parks aren't for living in like your stat is presented..Go live in a trailer park if you want cheaper..The B border patrol would be extremely busy defending their lands against the condo invasion on the north side of your lovely town, Lloyd..w/o GGNRA..but I get it, everyone wants the benefits of open space/public lands but wants it for free..hear it all the time..and no I'm not a ranger or cop..tried to get through to NPS today but busy signal..must be all of us trying to find out the real reason for the closure..but again..more fun in bashing someone w/o all the facts huh..

  6. C'mon, the Rangers are the same as dogs barking at passers-by – just doing their job. Don't like the barking? A) stop and ask why they're barking instead of speeding up and running on by (there's likely more to it than just the sign); b) go run somewhere else.

  7. hey Lloyd,
    you addressed comment to anonymouse #1, think you meant anonymous #2 …..

    yup, I agree he must be a good boy and follow all rules.

  8. hey all, thanks for your support..crazy that one is thought of as a good boy who follows park rules when its for the good of all..and the park resources in specific..maybe just the disgruntled locals that think that its their space and non-locals should stay away..oh, guess what..i checked with NPS/GGNRA in Ft mason) and they said that there are no signs to that effect on any trails in the area your friend described..One thing is that the parking lot does close generally one hour after sunset (Muir beach) but no trail closures..maybe your friend was parked in the closed lot,,but just happen to forget that part in your description..of course, my POV is light on facts here too..This story is light on facts..sounds like a story just to incite..It worked..Ha! Monkey Wrenching.. ..So anyway, NPS said they would be interested in following up on this supposed sign (a pic would be great he said) that was posted as they know nothing about it..Call NPS at Ft Mason at 415.561.4700. Anyone should be able to answer your questions at that number he said… of course, thats if someone wants to put this story to bed w /facts..thats a toss up here..

  9. Lloyd, you and I are very far apart politically, but I couldn't agree about this more. I see this creeping authoritarianism everywhere. Throw a Frisbee on the beach in Venice, you're fined $ 1000. Come on!!
    I love your blog- I read it all the time, you are living your life to the fullest and you're full of interesting topics.

  10. “Any single man must judge for himself whether circumstances warrant obedience or resistance to the commands of the civil magistrate; we are all qualified, entitled, and morally obliged to evaluate the conduct of our rulers. This political judgment, moreover, is not simply or primarily a right, but like self-preservation, a duty to God. As such it is a judgment that men cannot part with according to the God of Nature. It is the first and foremost of our inalienable rights without which we can preserve no other.”

    – John Locke (1632-1704)

  11. Yes, thanks for that. For wisdom and clarity of thought and expression you can always turn to the intellectuals of the 17th and 18th century. Nowadays we're constantly presented with the toady conformist 'larger social justice' arguments of anonymous number two. When will people learn that all government diktat is oppressive whether it's stultifying bureaucratic red tape or grandiose societal five year plans that result in millions starving, it's just a matter of degree.

    America seems to be all about punishment these days. And there are many who are inclined that direction. I don't understand it.

  12. Mr. Kahn, I generally love your blog (sensitivity, aesthetics, spirit, taste), but this issue has more than one valid side to it. Yes, wilderness is part of us and exists for us, and who has the right to restrict our free and innocent movement through the natural world? However, public parks/trails, especially at night, are places where bad things can happen to good people, as well as good vegetation, and these rangers have been given the responsibility of protecting not only the park, but that (and those) within it. I recall news reports of assaults, including rapes, occurring on some Marin trails. A lone man running could be running from anything, including his own criminal acts. Who knows? Certainly not the park ranger.

    As for Enlightenment notions of human rights and freedom, I like the compromises that were built into the U.S. Constitution: the government belongs to the people (or used to, in pre-corporate times) and the people decide, through their elected representatives, what the laws will be and whether to change or eliminate them. If night-time runners organized and petitioned the government for, say, a runner's pass for certain trails, your friend would merely have to stop and show his pass when asked to by the Ranger, then go on his way. True, it breaks the runner's high, but it's a courteous way of caring for the land and the other people who enjoy it.

    Anonymously Susan

  13. came across this, thought it was a joke, but it is NOT..figured this was just the spot to put it…

    well then…it is not that I am personally advocating any of these actions newly banned with these laws in Taber…but…but…but..

    I guess it means, that when my kid sneaks out after curfew (and what is the curfew time in Taber), If I yell at them to get home, I will be fined — TWICE?


    Parent/guardian allow minor in public place during curfew: $100

    Yelling, screaming or swearing: $150


    Taber, Alberta, outlaws bad behaviour with $75 fine for spitting in public and $150 for yelling or swearing

    Canadian Press | March 10, 2015 | Last Updated: Mar 10 11:28 AM ET

    TABER, Alta. — The southern Alberta town of Taber has adopted a new bylaw that targets bad behaviour.

    The bylaw includes a $75 fine for spitting in public, “or on private property that they do not own.” Double that to $150 for yelling, screaming or swearing in a public place.

    The bylaw was adopted by Taber town council late last month and was also reviewed by the police commission and Taber Police Service.

    “I’m in support,” Mayor Henk De Vlieger told the Lethbridge Herald. “I’m not saying this thing is perfect, but I think we should give it a chance and try it

    out, and let the police work with it. After a period of time, we might make some adjustments, but let’s see how it works.”

    First offence penalties for infractions under Taber’s Community Standards Bylaw 4-2015:

    Parent/guardian allow minor in public place during curfew: $100

    Placing graffiti on property:$2,500

    Failure to remove graffiti: $250

    Urinating/depositing human waste in public place: $250

    Spitting in public place: $75

    Fighting in a public place: $250

    Being a member of an assembly and failing to disperse as directed by a peace officer: $250

    Loitering: $250

    Panhandling: $75

    Yelling, screaming or swearing: $150

    Drinking establishment making noise: $2,000

    Allow, suffer or permit noise likely to disturb others: $150

    Allow, suffer or permit noise from premises or property: $150

    Allow, suffer or permit noise from vehicle: $150

    Activate or apply engine retarder brakes: $150

    Allow or permit noise between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.: $150

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