The Authorities Who Cried Wolf

In the last few days, New York authorities have come closer to instituting an outdoor smoking ban in all parks, beaches and Times Square. (Is the most-visited tourist attraction in the country now “Square,” like beatnik “square,” Dobie Gillis “square” – ergo: uncool?) The city-wide ban is based on “scientific proof” that smokers smoking outdoors expose people in their vicinity and passersby to an unacceptable level of a deadly toxin.

And New York State authorities are not alone in bending over backwards to find a reason to ban the new electronic cigarettes — the “nicotine delivery devices” that some smokers are using as an alternative when smoking is disallowed —  despite the fact that the devices emit only water vapor. States and municipalities are re-writing laws to now ban the indoor use of electronic cigarettes. After all, if it looks like a duck smoking and satisfies like a smoking duck should, then it’s a smoking duck smoking!

Didn’t these folks ever read “The Boy Who Cried Wolf?” Really? Are they from Mars?

On the basis that they might be from Mars – and not to be an “Earthist” — (I’m sure there are places in the world where people haven’t heard the story) – let me encapsulate:

A boy has fun stirring up all the adults by yelling “Wolf!” although that is not true. So much fun, that he does it again and again, and delights as the geezers repeatedly freak out. To make a long story short, the geezers stop believing the boy, the real wolf shows up, the boy calls for help, no one comes and the wolf eats the boy.

The authorities are called “authorities” because they have credibility. That gives them a responsibility to be more rational than old coots with spaghetti strainers on their heads  endlessly adjusting the coat-hanger antennas on their TVs.

When a rational person is told that barbecuing indoors is fine, because it’s no more dangerous than barbecuing outdoors, the rational look for the colander on their friend’s head. But what if it’s the authorities making that claim? What is one to do with that many colanders?

Red sauce or white?

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