The Dystopian Dream of the Nanny State
- 08 Jun 2012
- Written by Jonathan Dobrer
FRIENDLY FIRE - Imagine that you were incarcerated on marijuana charges for two decades. Now you get out, and there is New York in all its glory, complexity and wonder. Overcome with joy and new freedom you long for all you have missed. Hurrying to a bodega you order the Super-Size Giant Gulp--the 36-ounce monster Coke you have dreamed about. The counterman stares and informs you that a coke that large is against the law. You immediately question if you got bad information or that maybe the clerk thought you were looking for 36 ounces of coke, as in cocaine, and not Coca-Cola? I mean, there could be language issues. It is, after all, New York.
No, he tells you. The sale and possession of any sugar-sweetened drink that size is not tolerated. Incredulous, you wonder aloud if this guy is on drugs. He tells you with a straight, if confused, face that while he is not on drugs, he could give you an ounce of marijuana, and that would be perfectly legal! You begin to wonder at the very nature of reality and if you somehow lost your mind during your two-decade hiatus?
Trying to get your head on straight, you pursue this further down the rabbit hole of the Nanny State.
Sugar is bad for you and is now a restricted substance--but only in certain forms. You can't have the sugar-sweetened Coke, but you could have the chemically sweetened diet version. We used to think that chemicals were bad, but oh well.
Strangely, if not absurdly, the clerk offers to let you drown your sugar-deprived sorrows with a couple of doughnuts. Strangely a 20 ounce coke is 240 calories, exactly the same as a single powdered sugar doughnut. Yet the cola is the controlled substance. Go know.
Now hopped up on sugar, you go after your next craving--some great crispy and flavorful French Fries. They don't taste the same as you remembered, and you query the waiter. He informs you that trans-fats, the fats that made them taste good and crisp up, are now illegal in New York City. It's for your own good. The state, or actually the city, in the diminutive person of Mayor Bloomberg, wants you to live long and healthily. Strangely, alcohol is still permitted, as are all kinds of fatty meats. Better enjoy them now, you think.
At least they haven't yet outlawed sex, you chuckle to yourself as you go to consult a travel agent about going out to LA. You're pretty sure that there you could make the rest of your pent up fantasies come to fruition.
Joking with the agent, you tell him your plans, and he informs you that yes sex is still legal, but if there is a camera in the room, you have to wear a condom to protect yourself, your partner and any potential viewer from the hint of exposure to STDs.
You thought of asking him what an STD was, thinking that it might be an oil additive. But finally, you say the hell with it all and grab a cab back to the slammer.
(Jonathan Dobrer is an op-ed contributor to the Daily News and Friendly Fire and is a syndicated columnist. This column was posted first at Friendly Fire. More on Jonathan and his books at www.Dobrer.com)
Tags: Jonathan Dobrer, sugar drinks, sodas, Coke, donuts, Mayor Bloomberg, LA
Vol 10 Issue 46
Pub: June 8, 2012