EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 13, 2013

Patrick's driving ban an insult to our intelligence

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — An old wives’ tale has it that turkeys —and chickens, too, for that matter — are so stupid they will drown if caught out in a driving rain storm.

As the fascinated fowl gaze upward into the rain, the droplets pelt down their gaping beaks until their gullets are choked.

Like many, but not all old wives’ tales, it’s a myth.

Turkeys are wily birds, as anyone who has hunted them can attest, and they have more than enough sense to take shelter when a storm hits.

Too bad so many of our politicians refuse to credit us with the sense God gave the gobbler.

By now, we’ve become used to nanny state pols like New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino telling us where, when and whether we can indulge in sugary drinks or drink them from Styrofoam cups or bring them home from the store in plastic bags.

As a blizzard approached on Friday, Gov. Deval Patrick raised the stakes in the game of government control when he ordered a driving ban that remained in effect from 4 p.m. Friday until 4 p.m. Saturday in most of the state. (The ban was lifted earlier in the afternoon on Nantucket and parts of Western Massachusetts, where there was far less snow.)

Of course, it was all for own good, and the convenience of plow drivers.

It was the first such travel ban since the Blizzard of ‘78. In the 35 years since then, we’ve survived worse storms than the Blizzard of ‘13, without having to resort to a blanket order to stay put.

By contrast, New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan, trusting in the common sense of Granite Staters, issued an emergency declaration that urged, but did not order, drivers to be off the roads by 7 p.m. Friday.

In the Bay State, violators of Patrick’s order were subject to a potential penalty of a year in jail and a $500 fine, though the governor didn’t spell that out in his decree.

In the event, local police said they didn’t issue citations to anyone, though they did stop some drivers, asked what they thought they were doing, gave them a stern warning and told them to go home, unless they had, in the officer’s view, a good reason to be out and about.

Another fine example about. of how “public servants” feel entitled to treat us like children.

How stupid do they think were are? Blowing snow, with whiteout conditions at times, wind gusts of 40-50 mph, streets untouched by plows.

Yes, let’s go for a ride just for the heck of it!

It was the implied insult to our intelligence more than anything else that seemed to irk people about Patrick’s proclamation. Our initial story about the ban and the threat of jail for violators drew more than 600 comments from around the country when it was linked on the Drudge Report.

One commenter said the threat of jail was “not the action of a free society. That’s government thinking for you. Think for yourself.”

Said another: “Wow, and I thought us rednecks down here in North Carolina were ignorant. Thanks for making us southerners look so intelligent! Fortunately, we only have to deal with hurricanes, not all that frozen misty stuff ya’ll are facing.”

Sadly a growing number of people probably are dumb as poultry and docile as sheep after being taught since grade school that the government knows better than they do what they should eat, drink, say out loud and even think.

But if the citizenry is reduced to the point that it has to be ordered to come in from the blizzard, how much more is our leadership reduced?

Benjamin Franklin is said to have wanted the turkey to be our national emblem, rather than the bald eagle. That, too, is something of an old wive’s tale, though Franklin did write in praise of the turkey in a letter to his daughter, calling it a “much more respectable Bird (than the eagle), and withal a true original Native of America ... He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage.”

Courage is something we can use more of, along with those other old virtues, independence and self-reliance.

Franklin also said this, “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither safety nor liberty.”

Patrick said after lifting the ban that it “worked out really well” and he’d do it again. You have to wonder if the governor would have been bold enough, or concerned enough about our safety, to ban driving if the storm had arrived not at the end of the work week but in the middle, costing millions a payday or two.

Pray for an early spring so we don’t have to find out.