Straight Talk
ANTHONY FUREY - Common sense was on life support in 2012

Credits: QMI AGENCY

ANTHONY FUREY | QMI AGENCY

With the benefit of hindsight, it seems the Mayans were kind of right.

If we look back at some of the unexpected things that happened in 2012, the world as we knew it is definitely over. Events that would have only been jokes in the past actually happened.

"Wouldn't it be crazy if Robert Mugabe was named a ‘global leader for tourism' by the United Nations?"

The crowd at the bar erupts in laughter. "When pigs fly!"

Well, last May the UN did just that. And, get this, Mugabe is not just widely viewed as responsible for the downfall of tourism in his own country. He's also on EU and U.S.-imposed travel bans.

That said, a UN agency's pitch to tighten control of the Internet is up there when it comes to international shenanigans.

Education and youth issues in Canada are exhibiting signs of a looming apocalypse.

In September, Edmonton teacher Lynden Dorval was fired for giving students zeroes. That's how little we ask of young people these days. That's the level of expectation we're setting for future generations.

In November, a Vaughan, Ont., mother went before city council to request the removal of oak trees in front of her kids' school. She was worried about the anxiety they'd cause to allergic kids. The bubblewrap lifestyle continues.

Sport Canada, a federal body, is leading the push to stop keeping score in youth sports.

The bullying mania began with good intentions geared to solving real problems. But now, not-for-profits are raising money all over the place. Politicians are proposing feel-good but useless regulation. Meanwhile no one is giving the bullies a smack on the head and also telling the bullied to stand up for themselves.

Cities are passing motions ranging from head-scratching to unconstitutional.

In Toronto they dug holes and filled them again. Well, not quite holes. Bike lanes. Cycling activists then laid down in front of the machine removing the lane marks, as if the setting was Tiananmen Square.

In January, Toronto council also voted on a whim to ban plastic bags.

Oakville passed a bylaw banning those under 18 from tanning. It may also become a provincial law.

In New York, Mayor Bloomberg pushed through legislation limiting the size of sugary drinks to 16 oz. Public health in Ottawa made murmurs that similar bans might be tabled there, too.

Perhaps the most sensible news to come out of municipal politics is that Stubbs the Cat celebrated his 15th anniversary as mayor of Talkeetna, Alaska in July. I kid you not.

When I first heard all of the above my immediate reaction was , "What the ...? This can't be true!" They're all, as the saying goes, stranger than fiction. The world that ended was one of personal responsibility, where people were raised to make informed decisions, answer for their actions and play a part in crafting their community. Now we're left with a world where government has carte blanche. It not only tells us how to live our lives more than ever, but also busies itself with some downright strange pursuits.

So was 2012 an outlier? Sadly, no. There is likely much more to come.

Meanwhile, in December a New Zealand SPCA announced it's teaching dogs to drive cars, but on the other side of the world women went to jail in Saudia Arabia in for getting behind the wheel.

Yes, it seems the Mayans were right.

- Furey is the new national affairs columnist for Sun Media

 


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