"I wonder if maybe banning humor or human happiness might not just be a shortcut to get to the goal that the left is looking for."
We're living in a society, to quote George Costanza, and that inevitably means accepting certain strictures.
But there's a big difference between "Though shalt not kill" and China's ban on the letter "N." While liberals have yet to regulate the alphabet, they have recently pushed some pretty ludicrous prohibitions.
The trend inspired Fox News populist pundit Tucker Carlson to last month quip: "I wonder if maybe banning humor or human happiness might not just be a shortcut to get to the goal that the left is looking for."
Here are three liberal-driven bans that prove his point.
Plastic straws and balloons
Democrats are cracking down on plasticware as though sporks were a threat to public safety (as opposed to simply an affront to human dignity).
In July, Seattle and San Francisco joined a number of smaller California cities in banning single-use plastic straws and other plastic utensils. Single-use plastic bags were already outlawed in both cities, as well as across California.
Also in July, Santa Barbara made it a crime, punishable by up to six months in jail, for a waiter to give a straw to a customer. And each tube counts as a separate violation, meaning a generous server could theoretically be punished with years behind bars.
The anti-straw laws ― along with similar corporate activism by the likes of Starbucks and McDonalds ― seek to address the real problem of plastic ocean pollution. But people like straws and bags, and research suggests their environmental toll is a drop in the bucket.
Still, efforts to ban balloons ― a source of joy and wonder for children everywhere ― are reportedly on the rise.
Juuls and other e-cigarettes
When it comes to ocean trash, cigarette butts are actually the biggest contributor. Yet Democrats have largely ignored that problem, and instead sought to suppress a promising alternative: electronic cigarettes.
Their favorite target has been Juul, the sleekly designed cool kid of the e-cigarette industry that controls over half the e-cigarette market. In April, Democratic US senators accused the company of "putting an entire new generation of children at risk of nicotine addiction and other health consequences" and demanded that the Food and Drug Administration take faster and more sweeping action to regulate e-cigarettes.
One of the senators, Dick Durbin of Illinois, pointed to a recent article by The New York Times ― part of a wave of misleading and thinly evidenced mainstream press coverage about Juul ― which he falsely claimed had revealed how the company markets to minors.
Juul has denied targeting minors and has taken action to prevent them from getting ahold of its product. Anyway, the data hardly supports the hysteria about a generational health crisis.
A report released last month by the United Kingdom's Science and Technology Committee in Parliament found e-cigarettes "substantially less harmful" than conventional cigarettes ― 95 percent less, to be exact. The report dismissed as baseless predictions that e-cigarettes could be a gateway to conventional smoking, including for young people, and suggested relaxing regulations to unleash the products' potential to help people quit.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the youth smoking rate has hit a record low and youth e-smoking has ticked up almost imperceptibly: 0.6 percent among middle schoolers and 1.5 percent among high schoolers in the past six years.
Uber and other ride-hailing apps
Speaking of resisting progress, New York last month put the brakes on the local expansion of Uber and other ride-hailing apps. The Democrat-dominated City Council voted to pause for a year the issuances of new licenses for vehicles that operate for-hire.
As a result, Uber, Lyft, and their competitors will not be able to add new cars to their, um, uber-popular New York City services.
Why? Legislators blamed the rapid rise of ride-hailing for contributing to traffic congestion and despair and even suicide among taxi drivers.
City Council member Robert Holden said the law would give the city some breathing room to study the situation, which he called "just out if control."
But nobody who doesn't drive a taxi in New York was complaining of having too many transportation options. Critics, including the affected companies, pointed out that ride-hailing has been a hit precisely because taxis were found lacking by comparison: too high wait times and costs and too little service.
Some noted that the new laws would likely be especially hard on poor and black New Yorkers. Research has shown that Uber and Lyft better serve both groups.
Apparently, being progressive sometimes means driving society in reverse.