Ed Driscoll

San Francisco: The Forbidden City

“How the Happy Meal ban explains San Francisco” is a new San Francisco Weekly article. Our headline above comes from the text of the Photoshopped illustration that accompanies the story showing doctors surgically removing a Hot Wheels toy fire engine from a Happy Meals box. The article itself notes:

Both conservative blowhard Bill O’Reilly and left-leaning comedian Lewis Black — and many, many people in-between — were left to wonder “What the hell?” in the wake of San Francisco’s ban [of McDonald’s Happy Meals]. It’s not the first time. In recent years, San Francisco government has passed numerous laws to make us healthier, greener, and — in the city’s eyes — all-around better people. Whether we like it or not. This includes banning the sale of cigarettes in drugstores, and, later, supermarkets; banning plastic bags in large chain stores; banning bottled water in City Hall, and the sale of soft drinks on government property; banning the declawing of cats; making composting mandatory; and forbidding city departments from doing business with companies that were involved in the (pre–Civil War) slave trade, yet haven’t publicly atoned.

The city may yet ban the sale of any pets except fish, and the sale of bottled water during events on public property. Banning foie gras, meanwhile, didn’t catch on, even here. Neither did allowing the city to prosecute anyone who depicts images of animal cruelty if they set foot in San Francisco — essentially the same niche Belgium has carved out for itself with accused war criminals.

San Francisco’s acumen for imposing bans has grown so pronounced that when an anticircumcision zealot began disseminating a petition to criminalize the practice within city limits, observers nationwide didn’t write it off as fringe lunacy but, instead, saw it as just another day at the office in San Francisco.

That ban didn’t make the cut. And San Francisco does not have a monopoly on banning things. But nowhere else can you ban so much with such ease and so little political blowback.

Yes, that’s what happens when you have the sort of one-party autocratic rule that Thomas Friedman and other Timesmen worship.

How bad has the “ban it all, let Gaia sort it out” mentality gotten? Bad enough that SF Weekly, nominally the city’s alternative weekly noticed it, and wrote a relatively fair article on the topic. But how out of touch is San Francisco’s government? The city’s “mainstream” newspaper ran an article on Sunday titled, “San Francisco’s shift to center,” but even the author had to admit in the lede that:

There are no liberals in San Francisco City Hall. The politicians in power identify themselves and their adversaries as “moderates” or “progressives” — which to just about anyone beyond city limits would be defined as left and far left.

But then, the further left the balance of power tilts, the further left whatever the current definition of the “center” becomes.

(In the meantime, 9.6 percent unemployment and zombie armies of homeless in the street becomes the new normal.)