Is the government going way too far, or are we a nation of complete morons? That’s the question I ask myself as I peruse the list of laws going into effect across the country this week. The answer isn’t clear at first.
For example, right here in Georgia a ban on texting while driving began Thursday. To me, this is a stellar example of government doing what it is supposed to do — protecting its citizens, in this case, mostly from themselves.
The general population has proved it cannot handle the dual responsibility of driving a car and operating a cell phone. The ever-climbing number of text-induced accidents, injuries and deaths is evidence of that. So, in a rare instance of government behaving like it should, our legislators said, “If you can’t stop killing each other over e-mail alerts and texts from your BFF, then we’ll outlaw it altogether.”
Good job, Georgia.
But then we move to Florida, where the state outlawed the sale of pipes and bongs at gas stations. Now these pipes, mostly used for smoking dope of various kinds, will only be available at tobacco shops. Florida apparently thinks junkies will simply give up their addiction rather than trying to find a cigar store.
Florida has apparently never been to college, otherwise it would know firsthand the lengths that potheads will go in order to fire up. I knew one guy who put so much thought and effort into his homemade pipes that he could probably figure out how to cap that oil well, assuming he can even remember his own name nowadays.
Conversely, the state to our south has such a problem with Burmese pythons being released and breeding in the Everglades that it had to ban people from owning them as pets.
We can’t drive without texting. Floridians can’t be trusted with reptiles.
Or horses for that matter. The state also had to pass laws cracking down on horse theft and a black market in — ugh! — horse meat.
If that’s not enough to give you the willies, up north, Minnesota found it necessary to ban minors from getting tattoos or piercing their genitals, even if they have parental permission.
To paraphrase the great Southern comic James Gregory, you know what that means? Sometime in the past, some nut in Minnesota said to his wife, “Let’s take Junior down to the tattoo parlor and let them hammer something into him.”
Some things the government shouldn’t have to outlaw. People just ought to know better.
They don’t, of course, which is why the Land of 10,000 Lakes has to stop people from tattooing their kids and why Connecticut coaches had to be forced to take kids out of games or practice when they show signs of a concussion.
You know, the more I look at this list, the more it seems states are just trying their best to keep all their residents from killing themselves through stupidity.
Now if they could just stop Congress.
E-mail Nate McCullough at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Fridays.