"I’m the ‘enemy’ because I like to think, I like to read. I’m into freedom of speech, freedom of choice. I’m the kind of guy who would sit in a greasy restaurant and wonder, ‘Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecued ribs with the side order of gravy fries?’ I want high cholesterol. I want to eat bacon, and butter, and buckets of cheese, OK? I want to smoke a Cuban cigar the size of Cincinnati in a non-smoking section. I want to run through the streets naked with green jello all over my body reading Playboy magazine. Why? Because maybe I feel the need to, OK?"
– Denis Leary’s character in the movie ‘Demolition Man’
• Another Memorial Day is here, and with it the requisite cookouts, flags, and all things red, white and blue. What’s not to love?
Two things, actually.
Not to rain on the parade, but why does it seem that fewer and fewer Americans (especially the younger generations) have even the slightest clue as to what they are supposed to be celebrating? To them, Memorial Day is solely about going to the shore and living it up, to the point where "Memorial Day" are just words associated with partying.
They shouldn’t be.
Here’s a refresher: Memorial Day is the special observance where we honor those who fought to achieve – and later preserve – the unique freedoms that have made America the envy of the world for 250 years.
But even more disturbing is that America has turned into a nanny state at every level, an ever-restrictive society where we are voluntarily allowing our rights to be eroded.
And that is a stinging slap in the face to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice in defense of liberty. Translation: that’s not what people fought – and died – to protect.
Rather than embrace our pioneering heritage predicated on pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps, with the innate understanding that we the people – not government – know best, we have morphed into a citizenry wholly accepting of being told what to do, and how and when to do it – or else. What’s not yet clear is if a majority agrees with nanny state orders, or if the silent masses oppose them, but are paralyzed to act due to complacency or fear of being labeled offensive, insensitive – or, God forbid, a Free Thinker.
Just look at where things stand:
• We can’t even get into our cars without being told what to do. Don’t buckle up, and you’re greeted with the non-stop beeping demanding you comply – or face insanity, as the alarm never stops. If you own a vehicle that doesn’t have a God complex, you still face significant fines if you choose not to wear your restraint. And ignorance isn’t an excuse, as we are threatened with punishment via multi-million dollar government-sponsored commercials – courtesy of the forgotten taxpayers.
Mandating seatbelts for children is one thing – they are too young to make an informed decision. Fine. But in the same way that not wearing a motorcycle helmet should be a rider’s choice, not buckling up should be the driver’s decision, as any adverse consequences will be limited to that person.
And no, we shouldn’t favor mandates under the false premise that they save on insurance premiums, as A) insurance companies can charge more for higher-risk behavior, and B) at the risk of appearing callous, unprotected driving leads to higher death rates, thereby reducing costly long-term medical care. Bottom line: adult drivers should be able to make their own decisions without Big Brother constantly looking over their shoulders.
• Helicopter parents have taken the nanny state mentality to a new level, corrupting our youth in the process. Instead of fostering an atmosphere of discovery, too many are hell-bent on hovering over their kids’ every action – and our children are losing their childhoods because of it.
The result? We have warped a generation, producing manic children conditioned to fear everything, from walking to the bus, to playing cops-and-robbers, to banning tag and kickball. Everything is so precisely orchestrated that creativity and curiosity has been erased, replaced with a structure so unnatural that social skills are nonexistent.
Worse, under the pretense of avoiding "hurt feelings," nanny state coaches and league officials often don’t keep score, and standings are frequently taken off-line so as to not offend the lower-ranked teams. Instead, everyone gets a trophy because we have mandated a homogenous society, and individual achievement is all too often frowned upon.
Our attempt to whitewash all that is "bad and unfair" – things that often teach children about life – has produced a generation that naively floats through life believing everything must be guaranteed "safe," labeling anything not to their liking "offensive." The result? A sense of entitlement so warped that it may never be brought in line with reality.
• Banning smoking in public buildings is one thing. But when government bans people from engaging in a legal activity in private restaurants (if you don’t like the smoke, patronize another establishment) and in outdoor public places (Times Square, beaches, parks, etc.), it’s clear government is out of control. Many people don’t realize it, but these laws hurt everyone, because they are never rescinded, and almost always lead to more regulations – such as how many ounces of soda can be dispensed at restaurants. Once the nanny door is opened, it never shuts.
• Perhaps most unfathomable is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s recent edict that, should an employer or landlord not use preferred gender-neutral pronouns and titles – ze/hir instead of he/her, whatever that means – they can be fined $250,000. No, that’s not $250 bucks, but a quarter mil forked over to the city. Beyond the fact that this law absolutely incinerates freedom of speech, the practical aspects are sheer lunacy.
So if Caitlyn Jenner lives in the Big Apple, and someone addresses him/her with a non gender-neutral pronoun, they could be subject to a gargantuan fine, despite there being no way to verify what gender he/she is – and no way to know what identify is "preferred" on any given day. When is enough enough?
• When did we go so astray of common sense? How did we devolve to such a low point that our national debates are about transgender bathrooms and "misgendering" people? What the hell is wrong with people who feel entitled to their "right" to do and say whatever they want – so long as it’s a one-way street?
Things have become so utterly exasperating that it’s all too easy to just give up. But in remembrance of those who battled for the "Land of the free and home of the brave," we owe it to them to keep fighting the good fight so that the wings of liberty stop losing feathers.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. His print column appears every Wednesday. He can be reached at [email protected]