Losing the right to choose

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At one corner, me on my putt-putt Blast. Armored to the hilt (jacket, pants, gloves, boots) and wearing my bajillion-dollar, certified-every-which-way-including-up helmet. And sweating up a storm in the Texas summer.

At another corner, guy on his custom Harley. Wearing shorts, t-shirt, flip-flops and a painters cap. And probably feeling pretty breezy over there.

Yes, I think he’s an idiot. The only thing protected on him is his bald spot from sunburn. He takes a spill dressed like that and he’s in a world of hurt. On the other hand, I could end up in a world of heat stroke dressed as I am. It’s all about choosing your particular cocktail of risk.

And that’s exactly what it comes down to. Choice. Dumb as I think his choice might be, I fully support his right to make and act on that choice. I argue against helmet (and seatbelt) laws because it should your choice to take, accept and ultimately be responsible for your risky behavior. And if that choice hurts no one but you, you should be allowed to make it. If you’re willing to live with brain damage, skin grafts and broken bones, where do I get off trying to stop you?

Instead, we live in a nanny world where someone else has decided that I have to wear a helmet (Well, not me, actually. I’m exempt in Texas because I’ve taken the safety course. Stupid.) and I can’t drink raw eggs in my cocktails and I can’t smoke a cigar in a cigar shop and … . It’s exhausting to keep up with ways in which I no longer have the right to choose. All because someone has decided they would make better choices than I would.

And losing the right to chose our level of risk means just that … losing a right. A loss that rarely actually serves to make anyone safer. A right that comes with freedom, with owning my own self. And if I can’t chose for myself – on anything related to the use of my body – I am not really truly free.

So I ask you – Are you comfortable with losing some freedom in exchange for a purportedly safer world? Just how far are you willing to give for safety?

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