In Praise of the Nanny State

The state also provides for those who witness or experience profoundly disturbing events, dispatching teams of trained psychologists and grief counselors to succor those who cannot reasonably be expected to cope for themselves. One may be forgiven for wondering how our ancestors, destitute of such benefactions, dealt with tragedy. Perhaps they did not, relying instead on the unconscious mechanism of repression or reaction formation, which could only lead to adverse consequences in mental breakdown, resentment, the acting out of cruelty, and emotional instability. The current practice must qualify as a distinct improvement over the need to depend on anything so mercurial as inner resources, which are manifestly inadequate in the face of life's inevitable calamities.

I trust the reader will forgive a personal interjection. I am both delighted and proud to report that the police force in my hometown of Montreal, acting in the interests of public safety, recently handcuffed and fined an inveterate miscreant, a certain Ms. Bela Kosoian, for failing to grasp the rubber handrail on the subway's escalator. The force is to be praised for its timely intervention in preventing what may well have been a public disaster of inordinate proportions. The horrifying scenario of said Ms. Kosoian hurtling down the escalator steps and setting off a chain reaction resulting in the maiming, crushing, mutilation, and deaths of musing innocents beggars the imagination. Although there is no record of such a catastrophe having occurred before, the servants of the state must nevertheless ensure that its citizens are protected against the whims and eccentricities of wayward individuals.

To continue. We are well aware of the advantage of laws requiring us to buckle up when behind the wheel. Similarly, decrees being introduced against using a cellphone while operating a motor vehicle are plainly to be approved, but they are only a first step. Fiddling with the radio dials when driving at speed or in city traffic, as well as holding animated conversations with passengers, are no less distracting and hazardous and are indubitably a cause of much unnecessary distress. These unfortunate habits are certain to be addressed one day by our legislative benefactors who, it is to be hoped, will ban sound systems and install listening devices in cars to ensure conformable behavior.

One might also mention the various bylaws requiring bicyclists to wear helmets. Although such provisions may cut down on the breezy pleasures of cycling, inducing some riders to take up jogging instead, safety remains a paramount factor. Indeed, one may convincingly argue that these ordinances have not gone far enough, as has a certain newspaper letter-writer who contended that motorists, too, should be compelled to don helmets to reduce the trauma from automobile accidents -- an admirable proposition. After all, who could possibly object, upon due reflection, to the profit deriving from wearing upholstered headgear every time one enters a car? There is no disputing the benefits of such civic reforms which, when all is said and done, entail only minor inconveniences more than worth the trouble.

One might go even further and suggest that the state enact legislation making it equally mandatory for lovers to strap on helmets when engaged in sexual congress. One can vividly imagine the harm done when striking the headboard in a moment of swooning inattention or the danger of serious concussion when sexual partners thoughtlessly collide in the midst of their throes. Perhaps Kevlar vests would be in order, too. This is especially the case with married and common-law couples who have major responsibilities to attend to -- businesses, household affairs, and, of course, children -- and who must therefore do everything in their power to ward off the menace of incapacitation. But this is merely a suggestion that concerned lawmakers might consider in the future, notwithstanding the cavils and protestations that a regressive minority of obdurate throwbacks are sure to mount.

The above is only a random sampling of the blessings that accrue to the development of the nanny state, which constitutes a demonstrable advance over all previous forms of social and political organization. The world is a dangerous and mystifying place and we must be prepared for every exigency. As with some of our latest technological devices, we must have an app for everything. One shudders to think of the alternative.