Thursday, May 31, 2012

The only remaining evil?

The same people who are "pro-choice" when it comes to the choice of whether to end unborn human life seem determined to deprive us of choices that are comparatively trivial. Sean Curnyn on New York Mayor Bloomberg"s latest decision to protect New Yorkers from themselves:
The world seems agog at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s latest attempt to forcibly improve the health of his subjects. He is proposing—and seems very likely to be able to fully implement—a ban on the sale of sugary drinks in containers larger than 16 oz at restaurants, movie theaters, sports arenas and street carts (i.e.: pretty much anywhere other than standard grocery stores, where fortunately you’ll still be able to take home a 2-liter Pepsi and embrace death by high fructose corn syrup). ....

I believe the decisive turn in that battle was fought and lost (or won, depending on your point of view) years ago, and it too happened in New York. ....

Now, health fascism is not political correctness; they are different animals, but they share some genetic code. They both carry stiff strains of puritanism and sanctimony. Think about it: just as with political correctness one is ordered not to use certain words because they might make someone else feel uncomfortable, so with what we might call “health correctness” one is not allowed to smoke—even, now, in Central Park!—just in case a whiff of it might be detected by another human being.

Indeed, I am convinced that it was the implementation of these kinds of strict anti-smoking rules, spearheaded by Mayor Bloomberg himself in New York City (although we now see them in many locales), which tipped the balance in favor of the health correctness movement. Momentum counts for a lot in these matters. Once you have allowed the government to prohibit what was previously perfectly normal and legal behavior in the name of protecting people from theoretical health consequences, you have opened up a very large hole in the fabric of personal freedom. It was nothing from there to progress to the variety of other health-correctness-dictates which have emanated from New York’s preeminent nutritionist and nurse, Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

I am not a smoker (that is, I quit over 15 years ago). Smoking is not good for you. However, society gave up something important when it decided to treat cigarette smokers like vermin, to be scorned and kicked out into the street. I wrote about it once before, calling it “the death of hospitality,” and contrasting it with how the world once seemed to work:
Back when I was a little lad, my parents didn’t smoke, but ashtrays were kept in the house to be offered to visitors who did. I learned that the proper answer to someone asking, “Will it bother you if I smoke?” is “Of-course not! Go right ahead.” It had something to do with courtesy, hospitality and tolerance of each others’ vices (we do all have them, after all). Of-course, courtesy was also expected from the smoker, too—the asking of permission being part of it, and the avoidance of smoking to such an excess that it could not but annoy others. It was always, perhaps, an uneasy kind of détente, but it was based, as I said, on a mutual understanding of human foible and a willingness to accommodate one another cheerfully.
There is no accommodation anymore. Now we use the law to take care of these things. We are so much more civilized.

So, you’ll forgive me, I hope, if Mayor Bloomberg’s ban on Slurpees seems to me like only a very minor advance in the all-consuming war on potential ill-health.

This war will finally end in total victory for those on Mayor Bloomberg’s side when we are all utterly prevented from doing anything which might possibly injure our health, thus relieving us of any remaining reason to go on living.
New York Nanny Bloomberg takes a really big gulp (but this battle was lost long ago) | The Cinch Review