Jewish World Review August 22, 2005 / 17 Av,
Attack of the Nannies
Polls keep showing that American Indians aren't really offended by college team nicknames such as warriors, braves, Indians, Seminoles, and Fighting Illini. But many sportswriters, campus "diversity" officials, and now the National Collegiate Athletic Association think they ought to be. So the NCAA says it will ban from championship play all college teams with "hostile or abusive" nicknames and mascots. It apparently took this action without consulting tribal leaders. "It's like historythey left the natives out," said Max Osceola, a member of the tribal council of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, which approves the use of the Seminole mascot and nickname long used by Florida State. "They have nonnatives telling natives what's good for them."
Here we are confronted by the dreaded social disease of nannyism, the irrepressible urge toward do-good coercion. The nannies are all around us now, attempting to ban smoking in outdoor areas, including New York's vast Central Park, working to eliminate one schoolyard game after another, including dodge ball (too violent), tag (hurts feelings by turning kids into targets), and just about any game with winners and losers (competition douses the cooperative ethic, and losers can be traumatized for life).
California has banned genetically modified fish from home aquariums, and San Francisco set strict rules for doghouse construction. Alabama banned sex toys. A California legislator introduced a state bill to prohibit use of tanning machines by those under age 18, unless they have a doctor's prescription. A New York assemblyman sponsored a bill to require every car in the state to come with a device that would allow driving only if the motorist blew into a tube and passed a breathalyzer test. The test would have to be repeated every 30 to 40 minutes, or the car would stop. In North Dakota, a state bill would make it illegal for people who are just turning 21 to drink before 8 a.m. on their birthdays. The goal is to keep the young from rushing out at midnight on their birthday to get drunk.
It's a good idea to stop glamorizing smoking in movies, but the nannies want more. Stanton Glantz, a researcher opposed to tobacco, wants smoking to earn a bad rating for films, maybe an R for explicit inhalation.
Nannyism is a progressive affliction. When the nannies get something from the public, they always want morehelmets for tots riding tricycles, for example. Now that the sensible rules against drivers' use of hand-held phones have caught on, the campaign against hands-free phones has begun. "Inattention blindness," we are told, is the real villain, and a recent study says that all drivers who use phoneshand-held or notare four times as likely as other drivers to have serious crash injuries. The logic of this is to ban radios and smoking in cars, and perhaps babies, dogs, and talking passengers, all of which can be distracting. Drive-through fast-food windows would have to close, too.
Hidden nannyism would include all sorts of political uplift, including term limits and congressional hearings on steroids in baseball, which is the Major Leagues' problem, not Washington's. Last week in a New York Times op-ed article, two men from something called the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning called for behavioral standards in schools (good) and a federal law mandating "systematic classroom assessments of children's social and emotional growth" (not goodparents do that, not your friendly local school).
Let's hope nannies can learn to control themselves. Otherwise, we may need some coercive but kindhearted antinannyist legislation.
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