Thursday, June 23, 2011

Safe driving

I got into the car this morning. Wore my glasses, checked my mirrors, reviewed the temp gauge, the odometer, the gas tank, the lights, looked to see if rain was coming down, checked my BAC. I did all the things I needed to do to be a safe drive. I used my blinker, I looked over my shoulder, I followed the speed limit. I even tried to move my entire foot when using the gas or brake and not just pivot on a single spot.

Then, I noticed a police car. The MAN was there and my spidey sense started tingling. I realized, I hadn't put on my seat belt. I hurriedly put it on so that I wouldn't be on the short end of "click it or ticket."

Now here's where I throw a question out to all of you.

Why is it a crime not to wear your seatbelt?

Speeding can endanger others. Phoning while driving, shooting up heroin while driving, or drafting the Constitution while driving can all impair the ability to focus on the road and thus put others in harm's way.

But if I make the decision about my own body and what I am willing to suffer through were I to get into an accident, then why should the state have the right to tell me that that is wrong? Has the medical insurance lobby made the case that their payouts go up if people get more hurt? Is this an extension of the law against suicide? I don't get it.

If you know the legal reasoning behind making it punishable by a fine if I don't wear my seat belt, please pass the info my way. Thanks.


  1. so essentially you make the case that you should be able to do whatever you want with your body without interference from the government, so long as you harm nobody else with those actions. by that logic, shouldn't all drugs be legalized - pot, crack, heroin, the whole bunch - no matter how deadly the drug? personal freedom is certainly necessary to an extent, but where is the line drawn in this idea that you can do what you want as long as it harms nobody else? one example of why "lines" might have to be drawn - you might not be directly harming anyone else if you crash that car and die as a result of the lack of a seatbelt, but wouldn't it harm your friends and family at least emotionally? the same idea would apply to the drugs that, by your stream of logic, would be legal. surely, one's personal responsibilities extend to loved ones. i'm not saying that the state necessarily has a right to penalize you for driving seatbelt-less; i'm saying that "personal responsibility" is not as easy to define as you make it seem - it might very well extend to one's family - and, if so, "harm" is also not as easy to define as you make it seem, because you ignore the emotional harm that that family (or anyone reliant on you) on you would suffer.

  2. actually, in theory, I agree. We allow all sorts of behavior in private, so why not let others? if we worry about how our private behavior reflects on or affects others then the government could then come in and regulate all sorts of private activities for fear of the emotional damage that those behaviors would have on others. is that the role of government? I embarrass my daughter on a regular basis. maybe that should be limited by the police. my friend likes looking at inappropriate material online, but if his family found many of our private practices could spell excision from a community, or personal and familial shame? Am I enjoined from eating fatty food because it could hurt my health and therefore affect my family?

    Instead of making the argument that as long as they have no bearing on the public sphere, certain things should be allowed, I am just wondering why something which has no bearing on the public sphere has already been curtailed.

  3. ultimately, what your question boils down to the issue of the nature of government.

    some say we need the government to protect us from ourselves, at least to some extent, and that it is capable of adequately doing so, economically, morally, and a whole lot of other "ly"-suffixed adverbs. history indicates that whether or not government is capable of doing so, each time it is given such power, that power is abused. every single time, without exception. george orwell's 1984 is a perfect example of what happens under the system of what some label "big government." the only ones who refuse to recognize that orwell's dystopic society is not by any means confined to the pages of his novel, and believe their government to be magically impervious and "beyond" such corruption, is only succumbing to willful ignorance. and that never works out well.

    america's founding fathers were well aware of this when they established the country, having just escaped from the ramifications of a big government themselves. generally they put as many restrictions on the federal government as possible. in fact, there wasn't really a federal government until the articles of confederation failed and were proved too weak to hold up the country, hence the necessity of the constitution, and even that is severely limiting on the scope of government, more so than any prior country's "supreme law." getting to the point, the framers of the constitution would, in all likelihood, oppose laws requiring the usage of seatbelts while driving. so would the document that they intended to be the supreme law of the land.

    so the answer to your question is that if the government really istened to the constitution and understood the reasons behind its words, the only logical conclusion would be that personal liberty beats government control any day, as long as you don't intrude on the liberty and freedom of others. there are some minor objections - a recent university of wisconsin study demonstrated that car accident victims who had not worn seatbelts cost hospitals 25% more, for example - but nothing is really substantial enough compared to the fact that, as you correctly stated, if government has no right to tell us what and what not to eat, it has no right to tell us what and what not to wear. eating excessively could technically cause all kinds of awful long term diseases and hasten an extremely painful death as well, and any argument for the prohibition of driving with no seatbelt applies to the prohibition of eating certain foods on the grounds of health protection. you're right; it's the same concept, the government's just picking and choosing.

    the problem is that most people aren't aware of what the true role of government should be. wearing a seatbelt, and the notion that by default it should be illegal not to wear one, is elementary to the vast majority of americans. like any law, it starts off slow: in 1968 all vehicles had to be made with seatbelts, and 20 years later, when most people had accepted the necessity or at least benefits of seatbels, new york and a bunch of other states successfully proposed laws requiring people to wear them. these kind of things can be curtailed because of one thing: ignorance. the ignorance of the masses allows the government to strip simple but seemingly minor freedoms from them, and slowly but surely the power grab continues, as orwell would have you believe and as the histories of dictatorships indicate.

    should we be allowed to drive around without seatbelts? yes.
    is anyone cognizant of the fact that it may not actually be within the rights of the government to take such measures, or of the system of government that the taking of those measures inevitably leads to? not enough. such is the unfortunate ignorance of the masses.

    hope you appreciate the anarchist rant -- intended a short paragraph or two but you really got my mind going! if only more people would think about this.


Feel free to comment and understand that no matter what you type, I still think you are a robot.