I just received an e-mail from the Maryland Senate Republican Slate with news that was so outrageous in terms of dictatorial nanny-statism that I thought it was a joke. And, thank God, it is — although obviously the author of the e-mail was taken in! I love dead-pan humor and fake news stories, especially as a response to events that are already so crazy it’s hard to pick a priority from which to commence mocking.
Anyhoo, the Maryland legislature is waging war on distracted driving and just banned driving while talking on a hand-held cellphone. I have a sneaking suspicion that this is a revenue enhancer that targets out-of-staters on I-95 and I-270 , since those are the only places in the state where there is likely to be both an offending cell phone using driver AND a police officer available, who will stop chasing down those undistracted SUV drivers doing 80-to-90 mph and bullying everyone in their way in order to wage war on the menace of holding a phone and talking while driving.
Marta Mossberg wondered just what our intrepid and all-knowing Maryland legislature would ban next. Her mock news story is deliciously apt and she skewers her prey skillfully in a piece published in the Baltimore Sun on April 13, 2010 but datelined two years in the future:
ANNAPOLIS — April 13, 2012
State legislators voted to close drive-throughs yesterday in a late-night, pizza-fueled frenzy in which they passed 20 other bills in the last minutes before the end of the session.
They said the ban, part of legislation outlawing eating while driving, will save lives. They also described it as one more victory in the war against distracted driving, which studies show is a major cause of accidents. Other distractions on the hit list: GPS systems, smoking, applying makeup, radios, Hooters billboards — and passengers, who may be required to be silent in coming years.
Maryland’s state song is, “Maryland, My Maryland!,” sung to the tune of, “Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!,” aka “Tannenbaum, O Tannenbaum!” Here is the 97th Regimental Band playing and singing “Maryland, My Maryland” — simply and utterly beautifully:
These lyrics popped out for me, on account of living in Bel Air, Maryland, birthplace of John Wilkes Booth, our contribution to the nation’s heritage:
She meets her sisters on the plain —
“Sic semper!” ’tis the proud refrain That baffles minions back amain, Arise in majesty again, Maryland! My Maryland!
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: “Sic semper” is just how we say “Aloha” in Maryland.