Last week, the National Football League called off an NFL game because it was going to snow in Philadelphia. This has not happened before. American football is played under all weather conditions. That is part of its appeal. Snow, rain, freezing temperatures -- nothing stops an NFL game.
But last Sunday, the NFL and Philadelphia city officials called off the Eagles-Vikings game because of an imminent snowstorm -- in order to protect fans from having to drive at that time.
Gov. Ed Rendell of Pennsylvania, a Democrat, wrote a scathing column for the Washington Times, indicting those who called off the game. He described it as an example of the "wussification" of America.
He was right.
Sadly, this risk-averse/avoid-pain mindset is overtaking America. Anything that entails risk is to be avoided and, when possible, banned. The breast cancer drug Avastin has just been banned by the FDA because of side effect risk to some patients. Yet terminally ill breast cancer patients who understand the risks have begged to be allowed to take the drug (even Europe allows it). Peanuts and peanut butter, particularly good sources of protein for kids (because kids actually like and therefore eat peanuts and peanut butter), are banned in more and more schools because of the risk (which is far less than being killed by lightning) that peanut-allergic students may die in schools that do not ban peanuts. Desperately needed nuclear power plants are shelved because of the infinitesimally small risk of nuclear waste radiation leakage. And now an NFL game is canceled because of the risk that some fans might get into auto accidents in a snowstorm.
Americans are becoming increasingly risk-averse.
Though Rendell is a Democrat, this risk aversion comes from the left, which has made it its mission to protect people from risk. Risk may lead to pain, and the Left dreams of a pain-free life.
The most left-wing institutions in America, our universities, are therefore the most pain- and risk-averse. That is the reason for speech codes on campuses: No student should have his or her feelings hurt or ever feel "offended." Likewise, no Christmas trees are allowed, lest a non-Christian student feel not included.
That is why Yale University Press last year decided at the last minute to cancel inclusion of the Danish cartoons of Muhammad in the very book it was about to publish about the Danish Muhammad cartoons! Too risky. The liberal university now stands for avoiding pain much more than for freedom of speech.
Dennis Prager is a SRN radio show host, contributing columnist for Townhall.com and author of his newest book, “The Ten Commandments: Still the Best Moral Code.”