America is a free country where you can build whatever you want — but not anywhere. That’s why we have zoning laws. No liquor store near a school, no strip malls where they offend local sensibilities, and, if your house doesn’t meet community architectural codes, you cannot build at all.
These restrictions are for reasons of aesthetics. Others are for more profound reasons of common decency and respect for the sacred. No commercial tower over Gettysburg, no convent at Auschwitz — and no mosque at Ground Zero.
Build it anywhere but there.
So is Charles Krauthammer — a bastion of right-wing deregulation and small government — suggesting that the federal government should regulate religion? Weird. In this case, the federal government should, writes Krauthammer, overrule local zoning approval and negate the free exercise of religion. I’ve always thought that religious interference in secular government would lead to secular government interfering in religion. I just never thought such government interference would be promoted by conservatives.
Also, there was a tower at Gettysburg, but not on government property. It was there for many years, in fact, until the owner gave up and the eyesore was demolished. There are still tower-like observation platforms in three locations on the battlefield — owned and operated by the National Park Service. Let’s see. There’s also a McDonalds, a Friendly’s and a Hardees on the battlefield. There’s a wax museum. There’s a Holiday Inn on the site of some of the bloodiest fighting. There’s a place called “General Picket’s Bufffet” on the battlefield. There are a wide variety of souvenir stands, hotels, restaurants and toilets. On the battlefield. Should the government demolish it all? I say yes, but I’m sure Krauthammer would disagree with government interference in the free market.