The Slow Advance Of The Nanny Stateby Doug Mataconis
I’m convinced that one of the reasons that liberty is always on the defensive is because people fail to notice the small ways in which it is being chipped away at, little by little, day by day, sometimes even for reasons that seem to make sense. I was reminded of this by Dale Franks in this post at QandO talking about trivial little laws that continue to chip away at our autonomy.
For example, next week, a California legislator will introduce a bill that could send parents to jail for spanking their children:
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — California parents could face jail and a fine for spanking their young children under legislation a state lawmaker has promised to introduce next week.
Democratic Assemblywoman Sally Lieber said such a law is needed because spanking victimizes helpless children and breeds violence in society.
“I think it’s pretty hard to argue you need to beat a child,” Lieber said. “Is it OK to whip a 1-year-old or a 6-month-old or a newborn?”
Lieber said her proposal would make spanking, hitting and slapping a child under 4 years old a misdemeanor. Adults could face up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
Leaving aside the debate about corporal punishment, it’s clear that there’s a difference between spanking and child abuse. Child abuse is already illegal, as it should be. Ms. Lieber seems to be saying that any form of physical punishment, no matter how mild, should be punished by the state. But here’s the funny, part, Lieber can’t even say what she considers illegal spanking to be:
Aides to the assemblywoman said they are still working on a definition for spanking.
The dangers in a law like this are, I think, obvious. The state would become more involved in daily family life and any physical contact between a parent and child, no matter how inadvertent could become a criminal act. Stupid if you ask me.
But wait, there’s more.Earlier this month, the City of Bangor, Maine made it illegal for an adult to smoke in a car, even their own, if a child is present. This week, a New Jersey legislator stated he would propose that New Jersey follow in Bangor’s footsteps. And, at the beginning of the year, Texas joined several other states in making it illegal for foster parents to smoke in their own homes.
And if you live in Washington State and think that the nurse at your doctor’s office is cute…..you’re out of luck, it’s illegal to date her.
Taken by themselves, none of these are important, or even significant issues. Combined, however, they demonstrate the way in which we’ve allowed, mostly by inaction and lack of attention, the power of the state to intrude into even the most trivial aspects of daily life.