A few years back, my state enacted a law mandating motorcycle enthusiasts (both drivers and passengers) wear helmets whilst the vehicle is in motion. A small group of “patriots” became enraged at this measure — citing it somehow infringed on their civil liberties — and the law was repealed.
As expected (and even predicted by some), motorcycle injuries and deaths drastically increased. Let me be clear that I am no way making light of these incidents. Death and life-altering injuries are always very serious scenarios, and should be treated as such.
Instead — though the feeling was not mutual among the pro-helmet crowd — I, personally, was somewhat surprised at the new backlash that then rained down upon state officials. In many cases, the same “patriots” that were so adamant the policy be reversed were now personally and publicly attacking lawmakers for what they viewed as creating a hostile transportation scenario, and heralding in unsafe highway conditions.
Did I miss something here? Was there some special session that I somehow overlooked? Did I pull a Rip van Winkle and take an extended nap through the tyranny that is today’s public transportation?!
Personal Responsibility Rides Again
Most laws are created with public safety in mind. The electric company isn’t keeping you away from the substation out of some personal vendetta. Instead, they might naturally assume that maybe you and your family don’t want to get electrocuted. A crazy thought, I know. Now, that certainly doesn’t prevent you from scaling the fence and putting your tongue directly on one of the power nodes. If that’s what floats your boat, have at it! Just don’t blame the electric company. In fact, you probably won’t be able to blame anyone at that point. But don’t worry. I’m sure they’ll exercise the self-restraint not to tell your family “I told you so.”
While you’re at it, you might also want to keep out of the lion’s den at your local zoo. Unless, of course, your idea of a good time is getting mauled in front of your kids.
And there are dozens more examples of situations where laws are there to protect you, rather than prevent you from living a full and exciting life, or somehow trample on your very basic of freedoms. Then again, if you spill hot coffee on yourself, you can always sue the company, right? I mean, who outside of an astrophysicist could tell that fresh-brewed coffee might be hot?!
To be sure, I have broken a few laws in my day. I drive at least five miles per hour over the speed limit of a consistent basis. And my record during the high school/college years is not exactly pristine. But every time I’ve tried to pull a fast one on Johnny Law, I’ve been fully aware of the fact that he might catch me. And when he has caught me, I’ve sucked it up and dealt with consequences.
So while I’m truly and deeply sorry if your friends or relatives have been seriously injured or even died because — for whatever reason — they chose to skirt the law or otherwise put themselves in an unsafe or even dangerous situation, there is something to be said about the fact that no law can replace basic common sense.
It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. Government can’t (and shouldn’t be expected to) prevent you from every bite. At some point, you have to protect yourself.
by Angel “Boz” Terwilliger
Residential Life Magazine