Ed Driscoll

Oh That Fundamental Transformation


Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

If pre-1965 Americans hesitated to seem sensitive to comfort, they positively disdained safety. They lit rockets in their backyards on the Fourth of July. They bought their steak marbled with fat. They smoked. They bought cars without seatbelts. They gave boys .22-caliber rifles for their eleventh birthdays. How they would gape and stare at a contemporary playground, with its rubber matting underneath the swings, safety belts on the teetertotters, and three-year-olds strapped into crash helmets before they can mount their tricycles. How they would snicker at grown men gird­ing themselves like test pilots to pedal through the park, at a Post Office that airbrushes the cigarette out of Humphrey Bogart’s hand lest some im­pressionable stamp-collector get the wrong idea about smoking, at the massive Range Rovers we buy so that we can commute to the office with­out fear. Back then, one did not show so much concern for one’s carcass.


— David Frum, in How We Got Here, his (excellent) 2000 book on the 1970s.

“Three of the stamps in the fifteen stamp series raised safety concerns among sports figures on the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. The stamps in question depicted children performing a cannonball dive, skateboarding without kneepads, and doing a headstand without a helmet. The unsafe depictions came to light after USPS Marketing chief Nagisa Manabe asked Michelle Obama to take part in a first day ceremony for the stamps. That was apparently the first time the stamps had been reviewed by the Sports Council.”

“When Postage Stamps Are Too Dangerous for Children’s Eyes,” Scott Shackford, Reason, yesterday. “Other questionable stamps included a batter without a batting helmet, a girl balancing on a slippery rock, and a soccer player without kneepads or shin pads,” the Blaze adds.

Of course, “if you’re learning proper skateboarding technique off a postage stamp, you’re doing it wrong,” Walter Olson of Overlawyered.com quips, but common sense left the building somewhere around November 4th, 2008.


A much larger version of the above image is available here.

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