NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC:
THIS PETITION MAY BE CIRCULATED BY A PAID
SIGNATURE GATHERER OR A VOLUNTEER.
YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK.
These words appear at the top of every ballot petition that is
circulated in the state of California. Every time I hold one in my
hand, I wonder what effect they have on most people (assuming
anyone actually reads them). But I'm pretty sure of the answer;
namely, that people feel a warm glow in their hearts as
they thank the state not only for bestowing upon them
the right to ask a question of the person who has stopped them in
the street and brought them this little exercise in democracy, but
also for going the extra mile and making sure they're aware of this
special right they've been given.
Me, on the other hand; it makes me seethe inside. The state once again
is giving a booster shot to the mindset, that has been foisted upon the
people continuously for so long that few even think to question it, that
the state is the font of the rights that the citizens of the
enjoy, and aren't we darn lucky to be one of them?
Do they open their eyes enough even to wonder to themselves, now that
they've been given the liberty to question the circulator as they consider
whether to endorse the petition, what rights have
the powers that be in
Sacramento decided that they don't have?
Maybe it's a good thing that those words are there, if they help even
one person put off their blinders and remember, at least for a moment,
what freedom actually means.
Despite the badness of the phrasing, I think YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO ASK means you have the right to
know. In other words the askee has to tell you and he
This is a good point. However, the wording was thought up by some
lawmaker somewhere, and they've been brought up in the same
environment of statism as the rest of us. Consciously or not, the words came out the
way they did rather than something like THE CIRCULATOR, IF ASKED, MUST DISCLOSE WHICH HE IS