Extreme is one of the words that defines our time. Extreme sports, for instance -- ordinary sports just aren't enough, but it's not just popular entertainment that needs to be as wild and crazy. The safer things get, the more we seem to need the excitement of battling danger with passion and with that passion come extreme precautions, and extreme laws -- and extreme stupidity.
Take the danger of child abuse -- it's real, but really, do we need to define the normal and harmless so that it can't be told from the abnormal and harmful? Of course we do because so much depends, in our totally politicized nation, on hysteria, on showing everyone that we're "proactive" and that any grotesque manifestation of our crusading nature is justifiable "if only one ____ is saved."
It's hard to know what was saved when 7 year old Josh Welch of Baltimore was suspended from school for having chewed his Pop-Tart into something that looked to a teacher like a gun, but it's not unique. Kids get into trouble for things that seem to someone of my age as if teachers are simply looking for any bizarre excuse to define a nail clipper as a "weapon" or a cough drop is "drugs." As with so many indefensible things, it's usually defined as "protecting the children."
Again it's hard to know who was protected when an Arizona couple had their children taken from them and their lives arguably ruined for taking bath time pictures of their three toddlers on a towel, hugging each other. Some Wal-Mart watchdog saw the photos and called the cops. Although a judge eventually determined that the parents weren't thinking about sex when they took the pictures (that's apparently all that's needed) the kids were traumatically "protected" by being put in foster care and the parents on one of those "sexual offender" lists that essentially render one an outlaw and unable to live near civilization for the rest of their lives.
So do we wonder that some people think it's not really silly to think that in some ways we have an intrusive government? Can some be excused for speculating about having lost some essential freedom because extremism in defense of some thing or another is no vice? The hell it isn't! Those who argue that the ends sanctify the means and never mind who gets hurt, can't rightly be called Liberals or Conservatives. I call them cowards when I'm trying to be gentle and understanding, but I've pretty much run out of those two things these days.