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THERE can be little doubt that the so-called permissive age is well and truly over.
This may be thought a good thing by some, but while we wrestle personally, within our families and across society, with some of the unintended consequences of social liberation during the 1960s – such as the sexualisation of society at a young age – it is clear that in many other respects the pendulum has swung the other way towards authoritarianism.
All sorts of bans and restrictions on our lifestyle choices have been introduced or proposed by governments of all colours in recent years that reduce personal liberty and remove personal responsibility, all in the name of seeking to engineer a perfect homogenous society with longer life expectancy, irrespective of the quality of our lives.
Slowly the nanny state that tried to warn us against making those wrong choices has become the bully state that firstly punishes us through punitive taxes and then makes criminals of us for ridiculous policies such as smoking in our own cars even when we are alone. While there are legislative milestones that are life-changing – such as forcing motorcyclists to wear crash helmets, occupants of cars to wear seat belts and forcing smokers out of pubs and on to the streets – these restrictions have been gradual enough and usually perpetrated against minorities, so that public opposition is usually muted.
Thus it is no surprise that the non-smoking majority approves of further restrictions against the smoking minority and agree it has been a good thing; that the public thinks that as motorcyclists are coerced into wearing protection for their own good then applying such a law to those on push bikes makes sense; and that if those in the front seats of cars must wear belts then so too should those in the rear.