Nanny State: Nanny State Hypocrites

21 April 2007

Nanny State Hypocrites

by Evan Coyne Maloney

New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine suffered severe injury in a car accident last week, and I wish him the quickest, most pain-free recovery possible. I feel for the friends and relatives forced to watch him suffer through his treatments as the doctors try to repair the damage. A car accident of that magnitude is a horrific trauma for anyone to go through, much less someone who must do so while under the media’s microscope.

It’s a bit crass to use a human tragedy to make a political point. But I’ve noticed no commentators mentioning the Obvious Unsaid of this case. Corzine, who governs a state with a seatbelt law and a strictly-enforced speed limit, disobeyed both. Plenty of us violate traffic laws, so I’m not criticizing Corzine for that.

When we have laws that regulate every minor detail of our lives, we break them. That’s not shocking. But having such laws in the first place corrodes the authority of all laws by encouraging disrespect for the law in general. If we assume that most people break minor laws, can we assume they will always obey major laws? And if we have a legal system that encourages us to distinguish between the laws we’re allowed to break and those we’re not, doesn’t that leave a lot of room for untrustworthy people to interpret things in a way we’d rather they didn’t?

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