Jonah Goldberg

In Washington, D.C., the city's department of health wants to subject people seeking a tattoo or body piercing to a mandatory 24-hour waiting period before they can go through with it. That's just one of the regulations in a 66-page proposal of new rules for the tattoo and piercing industry.

Reasonable people may differ on the wisdom of these proposals, but as someone whose interest in such establishments begins and ends with keeping my daughter away from them, I can't get too worked up either way, save to say D.C. has bigger problems to worry about.

What did catch my eye was this line from the write-up in the metro section of the Washington Post: "The body art rules are the latest product of a city government that has occasionally struggled to reconcile its socially liberal sensibilities with a zeal for regulation."

As a conservative resident of Washington, D.C., where registered Republicans are outnumbered by about 9 to 1 and where truly conservative Republicans are outnumbered on a scale comparable to the predicament faced by Frodo and Sam when they sneaked into orc-infested Mordor, I find such statements hilarious.

There is a notion out there that being "socially liberal" means you're a libertarian at heart, a live-and-let-live sort of person who says "whatever floats your boat" a lot.

Alleged proof for this amusing myth (or pernicious lie, take your pick) comes in the form of liberal support for gay marriage and abortion rights, and opposition to a few things that smack of what some people call "traditional values."

The evidence disproving this adorable story of live-and-let-live liberalism comes in the form of pretty much everything else liberals say, do and believe.

Social liberalism is the foremost, predominant and in many instances sole impulse for zealous regulation in this country, particularly in big cities. I love it when liberals complain about a ridiculous bit of PC nanny-statism coming out of New York, L.A., Chicago, D.C., Seattle, etc. -- "What will they do next?"

Uh, sorry to tell you, but you are "they." Outside of a "Law and Order" script -- or an equally implausible MSNBC diatribe about who ruined Detroit -- conservatives have as much influence on big-city liberalism as the Knights of Malta.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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