In California, a 15-year-old girl can abort a viable baby without telling her parents, but starting now a married 20-year-old with a job and kids can’t buy a pack of cigarettes. Or get a drink. That same 15-year-old girl is banned from getting an indoor tan, and a woman must obtain, and give, “affirmative consent” before kissing someone during her college years.

No one can use foam takeout containers or plastic carryout bags or play online poker. This is a state that wanted to ban you from eating the livers of waterfowl. If the state discovers you’ve purchased raw milk, a confiscation team may visit your home to impound the supply. The sale of caffeinated beer is forbidden. E-cigarettes are now treated as if they were tobacco, even if they are not.

In San Francisco, where it’s illegal to light your own fireplace during Christmas, if you fail to recycle your trash correctly you can be fined up to $500, but you can’t get a toy with your Happy Meal because they’re banned. In Los Angeles, you have to wear a condom to make a porno, but you can have unprotected sex in Caligula-style orgies as long as you don’t film it.

Soon enough, rich Californians will again punish poor ones for engaging in habits they disapprove of by tagging cigarettes with an additional $2 tax. The state already has a sin tax on alcohol.

Rich Californians will again punish poor ones for engaging in habits they disapprove of by tagging cigarettes with an additional $2 tax.

California needs the Supreme Court to tell it that regulating the content of video games is against the First Amendment, but its governor still believes forcing religious people to promote abortions is a-ok. And fear not, California was the first state in the nation to ban schools from using the term “Redskins” as a team name or mascot. It also banned the Confederate flag. Just in the nick of time, no doubt.

The state introduces around 2,000 new laws every year, and probably has around 200,000 “health and safety” laws. None of this takes into account the innumerable local incursions of modern-day Carrie Nations. Those screeching progressive moralists have nothing on contemporary versions like Jerry Brown.

Liberals who were the first to celebrate “those who choose safety over freedom deserve neither” signs during the Bush years are the worst offenders of the maxim. DC has already gotten in the game. Your state is, almost doubtlessly, also well on its way to emulating authoritarians like Jerry Brown and Michael Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio, who wants to ban baseball players from using chewing tobacco and tourists from using horse-drawn carriages. Although none of these intrusions alone is quite bad enough to entice citizens to grab their muskets, it’s worth remembering that the nanny state, as I’ve argued for a long time, is typically a precursor to broader and more dangerous intrusions into choice and individual liberty.


David Harsanyi is a Senior Editor at The Federalist.

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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