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“The New Tyranny: Carbon Monoxide Detectors?”

This story reminds me that, when I was in grad school, the state of Massachusetts instituted a seat-belt law which became a big controversy. A local talk show host made it his pet project to shoot down the law, and he succeeded! There was a ballot initiative and the voters repealed the seat belt law. A few years later the law returned (it was somehow tied in with Federal highway funding, I think, the same way they managed to get all the states to up the drinking age to 21), and, oddly enough, nobody seemed to care the second time around.

It’s funny how something can be a big political issue one year and nothing the next. I have no deep insights on the matter, but it’s worth remembering that these sorts of panics are nothing new. Recall E.S. Turner’s classic book, Roads to Ruin. I think there’s a research project in here, to understand what gets an issue to be a big deal and how it is that some controversies just fade away.

2 Comments

  1. dph says:

    In my particular (Canadian) city, we have just had an example of when a debate seemed to have faded away but got pushed back to the front burner after 20 years and a good public health initiative was repealed.

    *sigh*

  2. Phil says:

    Remember when flag-burning was a big issue, and there was a movement to make it unconstitutional to burn an American flag? These culture wars are just ridiculous.