A Contradiction in The Heights

In my last post, I addressed the recent repeal of Prohibition in The Heights. That action exposed a contradiction in The Heights.

Voters in The Heights favored repealing Prohibition by an overwhelming margin of 63.9 percent to 36.1 percent. While it is impossible to know the motivation of those voters, their actions made it legal for businesses and individuals to sell a particular product–alcohol. Yet, voters in The Heights have made it illegal for other businesses and individuals to sell a particular product–modern architecture.

Residents of The Heights previously voted to make their community one of the city’s historic districts under the preservation ordinance. It is now illegal for any business or individual to build a structure that does not meet with the approval of the Houston Archeological and Historic Commission. And if the commission does not deem the new structure “historically appropriate,” permission will be denied.

On the one hand, residents of The Heights wanted the freedom to purchase alcohol in their neighborhood. On the other hand, they want to deny everyone the freedom to choose architectural styles for their home or office building. This is a gross contradiction.

Freedom means the absence of coercion. It means that individuals may act according to their own judgment, so long as they respect the rights of others to do the same. Prohibition denies individuals the freedom to purchase alcohol if they choose. The restrictions imposed by the preservation ordinance prohibit individuals from using their property as they choose.

If we want the freedom to live our life as we choose, we must defend the rights of others to live as they choose. We may not always agree with their choices, but they may not always agree with our choices. Freedom does not apply only to those with whom we agree. To claim otherwise, as they do in The Heights, is a contradiction.

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