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The Nanny State

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David Harsenyi, author of The Nanny State: How Food Fascists, Teetotaling Do-Gooders, Priggish Moralists, and other Boneheaded Bureaucrats are Turning America into a Nation of Children, was on Book TV this weekend. Nanny State is a reasoned argument against governmental interference in the personal lives of citizens—banning victim-less “crimes” like smoking, drinking, and even, in the case of New York City, serving trans fats. Before you scream Second-Hand Smoke! I’ll just say that Harsenyi, like many non-malevolent people, including me, doesn’t buy the party line on this so-called threat to innocent bystanders. (It always cracks me up when someone standing at a bus station, inhaling carbon monoxide from passing vehicles, asks me to put out my cigarette.)

woman-smoking.jpgHarsenyi notes that nobody dies of old age anymore– when octogenarians die of lung cancer, if they smoked at any time in their lives, smoking gets named the official cause of death. He likened The Nanny State of America to Nazi Germany, careful to explain that he’s not calling America a fascist state, or implying that the government is secretly firing up the death camps. But he re-worded the old adage, First they came for the Jews; I wasn’t a Jew so I didn’t do anything….then they came for the gypsies, and I wasn’t a gypsy so I didn’t do anything….etcetera. In Harsenyi’s version, they come first for the smokers. Inspired, I took it from there—here’s my version of the saying:

First they came for the smokers.
I wasn’t a smoker so I did nothing.
Then they came for marijuana users.
I wasn’t a marijuana user, so I did nothing.
Then they came for men who use prostitutes.
I wasn’t a man or a prostitute, so I did nothing.
Then they came for the pornographers.
I wasn’t a pornographer so I did nothing.
Then they came for the drinkers.
I wasn’t a drinker so I did nothing.
Then they came for the obese.
I wasn’t obese so I did nothing.
Then they came for the non-exercisers.
I exercised regularly, so I did nothing.
Then they came for drivers without seat belts.
I always wore my seat belt, so I did nothing.
Then they came for pregnant women who drank
or took drugs
or ate trans fats
or smoked.
I wasn’t a pregnant woman, so I did nothing.
Then they came for me—and by that time
there was nobody left.

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