In early November, Sarah Palin passed out 200 sugar cookies at a school fundraiser in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. This was no bake sale: Palin was sticking it to local school officials, whom she accused of creating a "nanny state run amok" in their alleged "ban [on] sweets, cakes, and cookies." The rancor was palpable, Palin's minions irate and salivating as they chewed sugar-coated outrage in the auditorium aisles. Never mind that no such ban was proposed, and that the state board of education was, quite simply, considering healthy snack options in classrooms.
If Palin wanted to score with voters, she didn't have to invent a fake ban: there were plenty of real ones to get riled up over. This past year alone, the country went on a banning binge, putting the kibosh on everything from trans fats and blunt wraps to Darvocet — so where was Palin when we needed her to keep big government's mitts off our vices? It's too late now, so crack a Four Loko and pour one out for these now-forbidden pleasures.
Goodbye Mr. Butts
Whether you're a born-again libertarian or a moonbat contrarian, it's hard to deny that Massachusetts is America's supreme nanny state. For 22 years in the early 17th century, much to the dismay of the Bill O'Reillys of the day, Puritans even banned Christmas from the Massachusetts Bay Colony on account of how much impious revelry the holiday spurred. More recently, dog racing was banned in 2008, while earlier this year legislators banned talking on phones while driving for people under 18, as well as texting while driving for all drivers (repeat offenders can be fined up to $500 per infringement).
At the municipal level, in late April, Concord Town Meeting members voted to ban the sale of bottled water. The environmental initiative drew ire from conservative gasbags galore — especially after a 10-foot-diameter water pipe burst in Weston, forcing the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority to issue a boil order in 30 communities. That calamity occurred just three days after Concord residents shunned Poland Spring — an irony that was not likely lost on Attorney General Martha Coakley, who struck down the bylaw in July because it could not be enforced.
Not surprisingly, Boston's 2009 ban on tobacco sales at pharmacies (a move that also made blunt wraps verboten) gained momentum outside of city limits this year. Consumers can no longer purchase cancer sticks at CVS stores in Needham, Uxbridge, and Everett, while Reading, Fall River, Taunton, Springfield, Somerville, and Worcester are considering similar measures. The Walpole Board of Health also instituted such a ban, but the decision is being fought by two pols who, one can only imagine, are quite friendly with US Senator Scott Brown. Selectman Cliff Snuffer — yes, the guy who wants to keep tobacco in pharmacies is named Snuffer — called the ban "an infringement on freedom and liberties." His colleague, Mike Berry, added a gratuitous slippery-slope argument: "I worry about the unintended consequences of their actions. What will they move to ban next? Will they move to regulate the use of salt in local restaurants?" Or puppies? Will they ban puppies?