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Seat Belts Redux

I just came back from a car accident. I was eating dinner when I heard the squealing tires, the smash, and then a second smash. It was probably two more smashes, but they were so close together I only heard one.

Two idiots were racing up a one-way, two-lane street when they hit each other and then ran into a brick school building. Police, fire, and ambulance are already on the scene.

Like everyone else, I had to go look at the crash. I couldn't get too close, but one of the cars had that all-too-familiar starburst crack of the windshield in front of the driver's seat. The distinctive mark of the idiot who didn't wear their seat belt.

As I posted before, New Hampshire has no seat belt law for people over 18. We run public service announcements to get people to wear their belts, we drill it into their heads during Driver's Ed, and we demand it of those under 18. But if you're 18 or over, that's your choice. You want to be an idiot, that's your right.

Tonight I heard another idiot demonstrate their stupidity. That's their problem. It's not the business of government to protect free adults from their own damn foolish decisions, as long as they don't end up hurting others in the process. It'll be a cold day in hell before I travel six feet in a car without my seat belt, but that's my choice, which I weighed and carefully considered. And if you're riding with me, you're gonna buckle up, too. I don't need the government or anyone else to tell me to brush my teeth, buckle my seatbelt, or tie my shoes.

That's one of my biggest peeves about liberalism. Apparently, if you don't like something, just pass a law against it and the problem will go away. The idea that people who disagree with that law might simply ignore it never occurs to them. And the notion that once people start ignoring one stupid law, they'll ignore others that are inconvenient is simply beyond their comprehension. The absurd conclusion from this reasoning is a state where everything is either forbidden or required, and nearly the entire population is a criminal in at least some form.



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Comments (15)

See, seatbelts are one thin... (Below threshold)

See, seatbelts are one thing where my libertarian side and my conservative side are in full agreement. My libertarian side wants them not to be mandated because it's more fodder for Big Government, and only the idiot not wearing them ends up hurt. My conservative side thinks that allowing more idiots to self-Darwinize (ideally before they can breed) is a net plus for society.

Coincidentally, I just had ... (Below threshold)

Coincidentally, I just had to vary my route because the road to the local 7/11 was blocked by emergency crews responding to an accident. No details, though.

Back in about 1982 I realized it was stupid to drive around without wearing a seatbelt, and I've resented every law enacted since then requiring their use.

Those who promote these kinds of laws usually cite the medical costs shifted to society. There are better ways to handle this than to push us further down the "nanny state" route.

"self-Darwinize"...heh... (Below threshold)


Well, maybe there should be... (Below threshold)
Darryl Pearce:

Well, maybe there should be laws.

And then, maybe, well, something kinda like, um, y'know... guidelines.

Bravo! I thought I was one ... (Below threshold)

Bravo! I thought I was one of the only folks who felt this way about seat belts. I normally wear mine--but I resent the government telling me I must. Our state has a "secondary offense" law, meaning that you can't be stopped for not wearing your seat belt, but if stopped for any other violation, you may be ticketed for not wearing it. The epitome of such senseless legislation is the motorcycle helmet law. No argument can possibly be made that supports either of these items as important to PUBLIC safety. Nonetheless, there is Big Brother, holding our hand to make sure we don't hurt ourselves.

Meanwhile, Senator Bill Janklow runs a stop sign, fatally hitting a motorcyclist, and gets a slap-on-the wrist--100 days in jail (eligible for 10 hours per day public service release after the first 30), a $200 fine for speeding and running the stop sign, and 3 years probation. Incidentally, the felony manslaughter conviction will be wiped from his record if he successfully completes probation.

Just in case anyone's interested, www.stoprecklessbill.com is an ongoing effort (although not particularly active) towards ousting this bastard.

I couldn't agree more. My l... (Below threshold)

I couldn't agree more. My libertarian side really kicks in on issues like this. I can't see a reasonable public purpose served by requiring seat belt use or helmet laws. Adults can make their own decisions - foolish or not!

An intriguing post, Jay.</p... (Below threshold)

An intriguing post, Jay.

I've not seen statistical evidence of how seatbelt laws affect traffic fatalities, but to borrow Ian's word, people are going to self-Darwinize with OR without laws.

Still, I feel the libertarian distaste for such laws.

Yikes, I think I would be e... (Below threshold)

Yikes, I think I would be especially careful to wear a setbelt while racing. Some people just aren't very smart.

Now on to the liberals pass laws for everything comment, how did you come up with that? Who is enforcing their morality on gays?

Sarah, my <a href="http://w... (Below threshold)
Jay Tea:

Sarah, my earlier posting that I linked to was about seat belt laws. It was there that I spelled out just why I oppose them, and why it's usually the liberals that push for them.

As far as the gay commentary, though, I believe it was one of the icons of the left that coined the phrase that "a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds." And another one said "Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself. I am infinite. I contain multitudes!"

(end obligatory cheap shot)


Self-Darwinization. Love it... (Below threshold)

Self-Darwinization. Love it!

The argument that people no... (Below threshold)

The argument that people not wearing seatbelts shifts costs to society and therefore we must make laws requiring people to wear seatbelts is truly scary. That very same argument could just as easily be used to justify laws against smoking (already in place in NY, CT, CA, others?), eating junk food, skiing, riding a bike, getting out of bed the morning...

When I bring up these slippery-slope issues many of my liberal friends laugh and say, "That will never happen." I tell them (always to no avail) that these things will happen, given enough time. I really hope that people come around and see the very real threats that these dumb-arse laws pose to our freedom.

Tom, I'm not really crazy a... (Below threshold)

Tom, I'm not really crazy about the slippery slope argument. Not really that I disagree, but that it tends to be used when a person (not you) can't find a decent argument. They just take an argument to a crazy whacked out end, then connect the dots back to the original argument, regardless of how crazy the connection itself is. Gay marriage leading to people marrying farm animals is a great example.

I would also say that I agree with all your examples except smoking. Not wearing a helmet only directly affects the person on the bike. Smoking directly affects all those people around the smoker.

As someone who grew up brea... (Below threshold)

As someone who grew up breathing secondhand smoke, and who also made a couple of tries at taking up cigarettes myself, I can assure everyone:

Secondhand smoke got nuthin' on that firsthand smoke.

But to get back on-topic:

Jay is right.

Not crazy about it or not, ... (Below threshold)

Not crazy about it or not, the "slippery slope argument" often recognizes the power of precedent in western jurisprudence. You know, when they cite "State vs. defending party circa [date]"?

I think a secondary seatbel... (Below threshold)

I think a secondary seatbelt law is ok as it accomplished a significant increase in seatbelt usage with no wasting of resources other than an extra line of ink on a ticket. I could also see that if only one person is in the car a seatbelt law should be invalid. However in a wreck with more than one person in the car, a person without a seatbelt can fly into one wearing a seat belt and cause injury or death that could have been prevented.






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