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The Corner

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We’re Not Banning the New York Daily News, We’re Increasing Your Choice



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The New York Daily News claims this morning that, by banning large sodas and prohibiting stores from displaying cigarettes, the city’s interminable Mayor Bloomberg would be rendering it “easier, not harder, for people to exercise the choices they really desire.” Note the “really” part of that sentence: It might look to you simpletons as if the city is preventing free people from making their own choices with all the force of the law. But that’s because your mind isn’t sufficiently subtle to grasp that it’s quite the opposite. “Actually,” New York is “cleverly combatting some of the more aggressive effects of addiction and corporate marketing run amok.” Thank goodness! For a moment, I thought that we were contending with yet another instance of government overreach.

This concept is great — so great, in fact, that I recommend that the Daily News shows some real initiative and extends its enthusiasm for Enhanced Choice to other areas. Perhaps it could argue that we should ban certain political parties in order expand our democratic options? Or, if it really wants to put its money where its mouth is, the editorial board could propose that we censor the press in order to extend freedom of speech. Today, the paper contends:

The drink ban, had it not been overturned, would not have prevented people determined to do so from drinking as much soda as they like. Rather, it would have introduced what psychologists call an “interrupt” — a signal that triggers conscious thought — before a consumer moved on to a second 16 ounces.

And it would have banned people from buying a 32-ounce soda if they wanted one. Still, I would heartily endorse the New York Daily News taking the same approach to its newspaper. First off, it could support Bloomberg in an effort to make sure that the Daily News is not visibly on sale everywhere. This will protect consumers from “aggressive corporate marketing run amok” and allow them to make a rational choice. Then, to aid us in our selection going forward, the paper’s editors might decline to put anything on the front cover that could feasibly attract our attention. Covers like this, for example, would be right out:

I know what you’re thinking: “Won’t that be problematic for a paper that runs headlines like ‘BLOOD ON YOUR HANDS,’ told Osama bin Laden to ‘ROT IN HELL!’ and ran a fun series of titles next to pictures of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that included, ‘THE EVIL WEASEL,’ ‘PEACE OF SH1T,’ AND ‘THE EVIL HAS LANDED’?” For goodness’s sake, plebs! Do try and raise your consciousness a little and appreciate the new way of things: By turning each and every edition into the Beatles’ White Album, the Daily News will be taking constructive steps to “aid people in exercising the choice they actually want to make.” And that’s not all. To ensure that we really want to continue reading past the first six or seven pages, the printers should break the paper into two parts and halve its price.

This may all sound inordinately silly. But it is important to introduce what psychologists call an “interrupt” — a signal that triggers conscious thought — before a consumer moves on to a second helping of Doublespeak. Freedom wouldn’t be slavery without it.



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