E. B. White reportedly said “the most beautiful sound in America” is “the tinkle of ice at twilight.” In 2015’s twilight, fortify yourself with something 90 proof as you remember this year in which:
We learned that a dismal threshold has been passed. The value of property that police departments seized through civil-asset forfeiture — usually without accusing, let alone convicting, the property owners of a crime — exceeded the value of property stolen by nongovernment burglars. The attorney general of New York, which reaps billions from gambling — casinos, off-track betting, the state lottery — moved to extinguish (competition from) fantasy football because it is gambling. Florida police raided a mahjong game played by four women aged between 87 and 95 because their game’s stakes allegedly exceeded the $10 limit set by state law. A Michigan woman was fingerprinted, had her mug shot taken, and was jailed until released on bond because she was late in renewing the $10 license for her dog. New Jersey police arrested a 72-year-old retired teacher, chained his hands and feet to a bench, and charged him with illegally carrying a firearm — a 300-year-old flintlock pistol (with no powder, flint, or ball) he purchased from an antique dealer.
The IRS persecutes conservative advocacy groups but does not prosecute IRS employees who are tax cheats: An audit revealed that over the last decade, the IRS fired only 400 of the 1,580 employees who deliberately violated tax laws, rather than the 100 percent required by law.
RELATED: The Year of HysteriaA suburban Washington high school promoted self-esteem by naming 117 valedictorians out of a class of 457. Two Edina, Minn., elementary schools hired “recess consultants” to minimize “conflict” — children saying “Hey, you’re out!” rather than “Nice try!” The principal of a San Francisco middle school withheld the results of student elections that did not produce properly “diverse” results. When some deep thinkers in academia decided that yoga, like ethnic food, constitutes “cultural appropriation,” a clear thinker wondered whether offended cultures would send back our polio vaccines. The American Council of Trustees and Alumni reported that 48 of the top 52 liberal-arts colleges and universities do not require English majors to take a Shakespeare course.
This list of 2015 ludicrousness could be lengthened indefinitely, but enough already. The common thread is the collapse of judgment in, and the infantilization of society by, government.
Happier New Year.
— George Will is a Pulitzer Prize–winning syndicated columnist. © 2015 The Washington Post