The 1950s were the first sign that with a booming economy, progressive busy-bodies were going to once again turn their sights on controlling behavior. Though Prohibition had ended the Puritan Piety attack on alcohol, and Hitler had put a halt to progressive dreams of eugenics, the war on inferiors continued by well-meaning elites unabated after the soldiers came home.

They just attacked on a new front. Comic books, for example, were ruining children, according to psychiatrist Fred Wertham, who wrote a book making his case called "Seduction of the Innocent." Though Captain America had punched Hitler in the face six months before the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, now they were the enemy of decency. The Senate took up the case in 1954 but states were already reacting. Ohio Governor Frank Lausche was all for censorship, for example, and supported Akron in its efforts to ban them. Only Akron Councilman Howard Walker, a Ward 8 Republican and chairman of the public welfare and safety committee, resisted the call for bans. “Who is qualified to say which books are good and which are bad?”

Though conservatives get the bad press in corporate media, it's often social authoritarian progressives out to control behavior. You don't see writers at Reason arguing for censorship but plenty of California politicians want to ban Happy Meals and golf. It was Tipper Gore who declared war on music, supported by her husband Al. And it is Democrats who want vaping banned today. Credit: Pessimists Archive

Once comic books were censored, busybodies found that children still weren't docile automatons, any more than after their efforts to ban radios, books, and "idle minds" so they then turned on pinball machines, rock music, marijuana, TV, birth control, Dungeons  &  Dragons, rap music, video games, cell phones, and now ... vaping.

If you watch the array of anti-vaping ads appearing on televisions (what used to be corrupting children, according to busybodies) and the Internet (ditto), kids are throwing their video game(ditto) controllers through computers (ditto) because of that demon nicotine; a product that they can't legally buy but some greedy merchant on the internet is still selling so they shout it all needs to be banned.

It's Reefer Madness all over again, which took 60 years to undo. Yet now the same social authoritarian progressives(1) who got marijuana banned and comic books censored have adopted a similar mantra about vaping.

I am not pro-vaping, I don't smoke and never have, nor do I vape, we get no donations from any vaping or tobacco company or trade group, I am simply anti-smoking. It kills, but it is not the nicotine that is harmful, it is the smoke. Vaping needs to be an option for smokers because it simply works better than gums or patches or abstinence only posturing.

Just like Baby Boomers still read comic books in the 1950s - censorship crippled the industry, but it didn't eliminate kids reading comics - they need to realize that kids today are going to do something rebellious or even risky. Some will drink alcohol, some will race cars on streets, some will get addicted to caffeine. But we don't ban beer, automobiles, or Red Bull due to those things, we enforce laws that exist.

That should be the approach we take to vaping. The Trump administration is right to want second opinions instead of listening to what have become increasingly social authoritarian organizations like American Medical Association and American Academy of Pediatrics. They represent only a fraction of doctors and the people forcing through fundamentalist beliefs about nicotine are only a tiny fraction of the members in those organizations. More doctors don't stand up to hysteria because they don't want to look like they are for JUUL. Nor do I, I have blasted the company too many times to count. But just like I defend GMOs even though I didn't like Monsanto as a company, doctors should be going with the evidence and not engaging in culture wars rather than being too timid to stand up to the "cool kids" in their tribes.

FDA, EPA, etc. didn't issue a call to ban GMOs because NRDC, Greenpeace, et al. hate science, even though those groups have gotten plenty of fifth columnists placed inside those government agencies. Nor did academic biologists even though they are 94 percent on the left. Doctors should show as much backbone as scientists and tell government to enforce laws to keep kids from using products, not wrap themselves in the flag of Seduction Of The Internet rhetoric.


(1) Progressives were not alone in using government to force their social authoritarian agenda. Also in 1954, Senator Eugene McCarthy became convinced that the U.S. Army was "soft" on communists. Unlike comic books and other efforts by the left, McCarthy's effort ended in a spectacular failure. Then the left got their revenge on him in history. Though only 7 people in Hollywood were actually Blacklisted - and they were actually communists trying to overthrow the government - you can't find anyone old in that town today who doesn't attribute any career setbacks they may have had to being on the blacklist. It became a badge of honor.