Compelling Logic

by Mark Steyn

David Harsanyi draws attention to what ought to be the biggest laugh line of Nannytollah Bloomberg’s career — his rationale for supporting gay marriage:

Government should not tell you what to do unless there’s a compelling public purpose.

Thank goodness for Mike Bloomberg. Give me Bloomery or give me death! Because, without that clarion cry for liberty, deranged control-freak mayors might start regulating smoking on private property, or cooking in transfats, or the right of welfare recipients to drink carbonated beverages.

I chanced to attend a graduation ceremony a few weeks ago and the speaker decided to pander to the students by retailing a little braggadocio from the gritty streets of New York: “Who’s better than you? Nobody.” To give it a bit more swagger, he did it in a Sopranos accent: “Hoo’s beddah dan yoo?”

And I thought it was kind of sad. Because it’s hard to see what’s so tough and attitudinal about living in a city where almost every individual activity is expensively micro-regulated by a ludicrous control-freak.

By the way, doesn’t government have a compelling public purpose in keeping the streets free of snow? Too boring for Bloomberg, who flew off to his weekend pad in Bermuda and left New Yorkers without second homes offshore to make the best of it. That’s the very model of a can-do technocrat in the age of Big Government: He can regulate the salt out of your cheeseburger but he can’t regulate it on to Seventh Avenue.  

“Government should not tell you what to do unless there’s a compelling public purpose” sounds like a restraint but in practice boils down to “Government should not tell you what to do unless it decides to tell you what to do.” Once upon a time, it told homosexuals to cut it out. Now it tells smokers to cut it out. That’s a change in fashion, not an advance for a principled worldview. As Harsanyi puts it:

If you’re a non-smoking, svelte gay couple you’re in luck, but otherwise Bloomberg sees human existence as one big fat smoke-sodden compelling public interest.

Just so. Big Nanny statists talk up liberty in one area only: sex. Or, more precisely, sexual identity. And the expansion of sexual liberty has provided a cover for its shriveling in almost every other sphere, from property rights to freedom of expression. As I say somewhere in my soon to be imminently forthcoming book, in a world ever more micro-regulated by the likes of Bloomberg, sexual license is one of the few things you don’t need a license for. For some of us, that’s not enough.

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