Last year, around this time, after my mom passed away at age 87, I spent the month of March packing up the contents of Stately Driscoll Manor in South Jersey, including boxes and boxes of Polaroids and Kodak snapshots my father took of my mom, myself, and relatives. Naturally, in there as well were loads of photographs of me as an toddler, including a few in the tub.

Ever since portable cameras and flashes became ubiquitous, photos like these have been a natural human response of parents wishing to document their kids; we’ve all been the subject of them. “Blackmail material,” I remember joking to my wife when we stumbled over the photos my dad took of me as a wee lad. (Until we found the photos her dad took of her…)

Unfortunately, these days, thanks to political correctness and a mindset that assumes that all adults are would-be pedophiles (when they’re not accused of being would-be racists), such photos literally are now potential blackmail material — to be used against the parent who took them.

Or as Georgia attorney John A Steakley noted last month, “You Are Probably A Child Pornographer:”

Much like the Jeff Foxworthy “You Might Be A Redneck If . . .” series, I wish someone would start a “You Might Be A Child Pornographer” series to demonstrate just how far and wide government powers go, to the point that it’s difficult to avoid stepping over the line.

Do you have children? When they were young did they ever run around the house naked? Did you ever take a picture or video of it to show your spouse? If so, then you might be a child pornographer.

Judge Throws Out Case Against “Child Pornographer”

A judge sided with Todd Hoffner, head coach at Minnesota State-Mankato, by throwing out the child porn charges against him last Friday.

The judge said the cellphone video was nothing more than children playfully dancing naked after a bath.

“I’m just so thankful to be waking up from this nightmare,” Hoffner said after the ruling, which came more than three months after the coach was escorted off a practice field and later arrested.

Now, Hoffner said, he wants to get back on the sideline. But it’s unclear when that may happen.

The university said he would remain on leave until its own investigation was complete, and school spokesman Don Benson said he had no timetable as to when that might happen.

Hoffner was charged after a school employee found the video on his university-issued cellphone and notified authorities. Hoffner had taken his problematic phone to work to be checked out.

Hoffner testified earlier that his three young children asked him to videotape a skit they had concocted after taking a bubble bath.

A search of his home computer found no evidence of child porn, and social workers found no evidence that the couple’s children had been abused.

As Steakley writes, “Good job, judge. Now the citizens of that town need to make sure their DA doesn’t get re-elected.”

When I stumbled over this recent Daily Mail article, I assumed it was simply a reiteration of the story reported above; instead, it’s yet another example of this phenomenon in action:

An Arizona couple falsely accused of taking pornographic pictures of their three young daughters are suing Walmart in a bid to win damages after an horrific ordeal which they claim robbed them of precious time with their kids and cost them $75,000 in legal fees.

In 2008, Lisa and Anthony ‘A.J.’ Demaree took their three young daughters – then aged five, four and 18 months – on a trip to San Diego.

On returning home they took 144 photographs, mostly from their recent trip, to their local Walmart in Peoria, Arizona to have them developed.

What happened next was the start of a nightmare for the Demarees.

A Walmart employee, unhappy over the content of several bath time pictures, contacted bosses with concerns that they may have been images of child pornography.

Instead of receiving a batch of happy memories of a fun family outing, the couple were reported to the police and their children were placed into the care of the Arizona Child Protective Services Agency.

But then, Political Correctness can cause IQs to drop by a good 50 points or so, and not just in department store photo labs. As Glenn Reynolds writes in his latest USA Today column, “Maybe the public schools are getting worse. At least, to judge from recent news reports, they seem to be getting crazier:”

Exhibit One: A seven-year-old boy who was suspended because he chewed his Pop Tart into the shape of a gun. Now, really, why would you suspend a kid for that? A gun-shaped Pop Tart isn’t a threat to anyone. Nor does chewing a Pop Tart into the shape of a gun suggest violent tendencies.

Meanwhile, a 5-year-old girl was charged with “terroristic threats” for talking about her pink toy gun that shoots . . . bubbles. The school suspended her for 10 days and required a psychological evaluation.

And in Maryland, boys were suspended for playing cops and robbers and using their fingers as imaginary guns. Who is frightened by this sort of thing? People who can’t distinguish between fantasy and reality.

In Alexandria, Va., meanwhile, a 10-year-old was arrested and hauled off by the police for bringing a toy gun to school, according to a report in the Washington Examiner:

‘The safety of our students is always our first concern,’ Morton Sherman said. ‘We appreciate the quick response and action by our police.’ ‘The toy resembled a semi-automatic handgun,’ said police spokesman Jody Donaldson. It was silver and had a black handle. It also had a orange tip that went into the barrel, showing that no ammunition was coming out of it.”

Of course, the safety of the students was never in question — because it was a toy gun — but the mental abilities of the school and police officials are now in considerable doubt.

As I mentioned before, if I’m remembering the late 1990s and pre-9/11 naughts correctly, links to crazy stories such as these were staples of the early Drudge Report, except that they were invariably coming out of England. Britain built its leviathan welfare state after ours, but they seem to have had the jump on the US in terms of the mind-numbing effects of political correctness.

But America is catching up at a frightening rate. Which means, as Jonah Goldberg likes to quip, “Cheer up, for the worst is yet to come.”

Update: “No society can survive this level of stupidity. These small things are not small. They tell you a lot about the institutionalized stupidity of our institutions,” Mark Steyn told Rush Limbaugh’s listeners earlier today.

Related: At Reason TV: “Is Homeschooling a Universal Human Right?”