The Blog

On the Soda Ban and Demographics

4:30 PM, Apr 10, 2013 • By JONATHAN V. LAST
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

Over at Real Clear Politics, Jean Yarbrough has a response to a New York Times op-ed defending Michael Bloomberg's soda ban. The Times piece was written by Sarah Conly, a Bowdoin College professor who seems to specialize in coercive paternalism.

I don't mean to cast aspersions--that's actually the title of Conly's book: Against Autonomy: Justifying Coercive Paternalism, which, as a title, probably goes over better than Authoritarianism, a Defense: It All Depends on Who Gets to Be the Tyrant.

What makes the Yarbrough response so interesting, though, is that (1) she also teaches at Bowdoin, and (2) she points out that while Conly is currently defending the right of the state to ban Big Gulps, her next project is a little more ambitious. Here's Yarbrough:

Conly’s own research agenda is frightening. On the Bowdoin College Philosophy Department website, Conly states that her next project is tentatively entitled “One: Do We Have A Right to More Children?” In it, she proposes to argue that “opposition to population regulation is based on a number of mistakes: that the right to have a family doesn’t entail the right to have as many children as you may want; that the right to control one’s body is conditional on how much harm you are doing others; and that nothing in population regulation entails that those who break the law can be forced to have abortions, or subject to any sort of punishment that is horrific. If population growth is sufficiently dangerous, it is fair for us to impose restrictions on how many children we can give birth to.”

But remember: When conservatives warn about where liberal impulses eventually lead, they're just scaremongering. It's not like the New York Times would farm out space for policy arguments to people who are completely outside anything even resembling either the popular or intellectual mainstreams. Nothing to see here, folks. Just move right along.

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 19 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers