James Leroy Wilson's blog

Monday, May 06, 2013

Van Halen's Brown M&M Standard

As I understand it, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame band Van Halen had a rule for their concerts: in the dressing rooms, there were to be bowls of M&M's with the brown ones removed.

When I first heard of this, I thought it was petty to the extreme. But then I heard the reasoning: it was about the host's attention to detail. If they can't  get something so simple as removing brown M&M's right, could they screw up details like lighting, sound, and stage construction?

I think of the "Brown M&M Standard" frequently. For instance...

George Will writes of a court case in which three airlines are defending their right to tell their customers how much their ticket prices are consumed by taxes (hat tip: Cafe Hayek). 

Is this censorship destroying the country? No.

Is it bankrupting us? No.

Are babies dying because of this? No.

In the grand scheme, it seems like a stupid, but relatively insignificant, regulation.

On the other hand, it seems to me to have enormous implications.

Because it is clearly immoral and unconstitutional. Someone who thinks a "government" has the right to censor "commercial speech" is like a concert promoter who doesn't accommodate Van Halen's brown M&M request.

While it doesn't seem like a big deal on the surface, it comes down to this: If you really think the government can censor an airline's attempt to tell customers how much they're paying in taxes, you have a mentality that is destroying the country. If you can't think clearly about this simple issue, what does it say about your judgement on larger, more "significant" public policy matters?

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