Lately, we’ve seen a “rash” of white people calling the police to report black people doing mundane things like having a cookout in the park or selling bottled water on the street. It seems like it happens every day; every day there is a new viral “Permit Patty” story accompanied by a hysterical caption or headline:

White people: Stop!”
“Stop being racist!”
“This has to stop!”

I know in the age of Trump it is tempting to label every negative interaction between a white person and a non-white person as racism, but I’ve spent enough time around the “Permit Patty’s” of the world to know that the real problem – or at least the most important problem – isn’t race at all.
Permit Patty’s problem is regulation.

In fact, I’d bet my anemic savings account that Permit Patty (in all her iterations) fancies herself somewhat of a woman of the people; an ally; an advocate for oppressed minorities and cultures everywhere. She’s probably got a closet full of pussy hats and handmade “Love Trumps Hate” signs. She’s probably apologized on more than one occasion for her white privilege. I bet Permit Patty is unrivaled in her hashtag activism. She’s a proud liberal. She cares. We know because she will loudly tell you she cares more than you do at any opportunity.

But Permit Patty’s liberal mantras about race stop where her allegiance to regulating the lives of others begins.

You see, Permit Patty likes THE RULES. She thinks that the only reason we haven’t reached Utopia yet in modern America is because there aren’t enough RULES and not enough people are following THE RULES we already have. We are just one rule away from the eradication of climate change; one law away from defeating discrimination in every form; one bill, measure or ballot proposition away from ending homelessness, pollution, and Republican presidencies.

Permit Patty sincerely believes that government is the only solution for what ails our planet, our parks, our homes. She believes that in order for our earth to survive and our society to thrive some of us have to sacrifice some joy. We’ll definitely have to sacrifice charcoal.

The Permit Patty (BBQ Beck, in this case) up in the Bay Area is the perfect example. Her beef wasn’t with black people having a good time. Her beef was that they were having a good time using charcoal, which is limited to only approved areas in San Francisco area parks. In San Francisco, the environment trumps race, gender, sexuality…almost everything except homelessness. Those people were breaking THE RULES, and Permit Patty doesn’t like to see people not following THE RULES. She follows the rules…she’s not allowed to enjoy her finely charred hot dog cooked over a smokey grill in the park so why should you be allowed to do it?

I know because I live in Permit Patty land – California. I live in a place where regulations and taxation have replaced freedom and budgets. Regulating and policing the daily life choices of others has become a lifestyle and often provides a sense of superiority and self-righteousness that Permit Patty probably doesn’t get to experience in her regular powerless life. Permit Patty doesn’t mind her own business because creating Utopia is her business. We can’t have that Utopia if every single person doesn’t bow to Big Brother’s better judgment at every turn.

I live next to Permit Pattys and they feel it is their solemn duty to make sure everyone is following THE RULES. They are the women -and men – who call the police when you wash your car on a Saturday during drought restrictions. They report cars with one driver who dare to drive in the utterly useless California carpool lanes. They call CPS when their neighbor lets their kid play alone at the park for too long. They call animal control if you’re the type to let your cat entertain themselves outside now and again.

It isn’t an accident that both BBQ Becky and Permit Patty (who called the police on a young girl selling water without a permit) live in a liberal, true blue state. Progressives love THE RULES.

THE RULES are important. THE RULES provide order. THE RULES are for everyone, no matter what your color or ethnicity because THE RULES make life FAIR. THE RULES make everyone equal – equally miserable, equally unable to drink their beverage with the convenience of a straw, equally unable to use their tax-payer funded public spaces for their own harmless enjoyment.

For Permit Patty, THE RULES trump your race. So no, she’s not thinking about how justice may be applied differently to a black man breaking a small rule than a white man. It doesn’t even cross her mind. It doesn’t cross her mind that black people might not have so much faith in the same governmental structure that only mere decades ago allowed them to vote in the first place. All she sees is someone breaking THE RULES and that’s just not fair.

BBQ Becky doesn’t know how to mind her own business because her government has literally empowered her to make her neighbor’s business her own.

No, our problem is not racism. Our problem is an overly aggressive system of laws and regulations that stymie innocent joy, limit freedom of movement and condition us to believe that we are not capable of making our own decisions about what is good for us and good for the space we are occupying. BBQ Becky called the law on those park-dwellers because she knew the laws and what they said and how they worked. As one local gentleman said of the BBQ Becky situation: “I think we need to question the policies that made this woman think she had the right to harass people.”

Less government, more fun…and fewer Permit Pattys.