Humans have been inventing things that save and improve lives for a while, but we now realize these items of modernity can also hurt and kill us, and they therefore need to be controlled. Stuff like guns, subways, large sodas, and supermodels.
Two people were murdered by subway trains in New York City recently, having been deliberately pushed to their deaths. Some prominent New Yorkers suggested erecting walls or fences at all subway stations, though this might prove terribly inconvenient for the millions of daily subway riders. Two or three people are hit or grazed by New York subways each week — 138 in 2012, of whom 54 died; however, making subways people-proof is so costly and cumbersome that few are seriously considering the idea.
Unfortunately, such rational decision-making is not generally the case. Governments often, and hastily, impose “cures” for modernity regardless of the cure’s irrationality. Generally, the cure is ineffective or worse than the disease.
Chicago has some of the toughest gun control laws in the United States, and its level of homicides has climbed higher as its gun control laws got tougher. Chicago suffered 506 homicides in 2012, a 16 percent increase over 2013. Connecticut’s similarly tough gun laws did not prevent a school massacre. Yet we now are bracing for an onslaught of irrational gun legislation.
Israel’s parliament passed a law last week requiring fashion models to bring a note from their doctor to every photo shoot stipulating that the model is not underweight and that her bodymass index is healthy. The same law also requires all media in Israel stop using Photoshop or other enhancement techniques to make models look more beautiful. Knowing anything about eating disorders should lead one to the rational conclusion that such a scheme cannot possibly be a fix: eating disorders require counseling and treatment, and adults have the right to free expression. Similarly, consumers will continue lusting for thin women — a law cannot “perfect” human behavior.