Everybody wants to demonstrate that they care about kids by ratcheting the standards for parenting and childcare ever-higher. But in doing so we raise the costs of having kids — you can’t even go out, because who’ll babysit if the liability is so extreme? — and that probably does more societal damage.

I also note that when I was on the state’s Juvenile Justice Reform Commission, I heard a lot of child-welfare authorities who testified make the same kind of excuses for the neglect or abuse of children in their care that they refused to accept from parents, etc. — we’re so busy, there’s not enough money, it’s not our fault they live in a building that’s old and unsafe, etc. As Reverend Lovejoy said, when the state does it, it’s not wrong!

I think it’s safer to assume that most of the time parents, and those they select to watch out for their kids, know what they’re doing, and that they already have adequate incentives to try to keep them safe. That’s not perfect, but this inquisitorial approach, plus the ridiculous effort to purge all risks from childrens’ lives, aren’t perfect either and do significant harm of their own.

UPDATE: Brendan Loy: “Sometimes, a tragedy is just a tragedy, not a crime.”