Your humble correspondent has many favorite pass-times. At the top of my list is autocross racing; a form of road racing for beginners—using their own cars to get the thrill of something like Formula 1, without the $100 million dollar budget, death-defying 200+ mph speeds, or the need to be the best driver in the world. See the video below for a short, but wonderful documentary on autocross. If you like motorsports, I encourage you to check out your local SCCA or NASA (not that NASA) club and check it out. It’s cheap yet awesome!
Before every event, they have a driver’s meeting where the person running the event (a volunteer) lays out the plans for the day, and the safety steward (also a volunteer) explains the rules of safety.
One of these officers from the events I went to, one Jon Beerman, would always say, “Safety second! If we put safety first, we wouldn’t be out here doing this in the first place.” Jon has a crazy fast Corvette, and if you know me or follow me on Twitter, you know I have a deep love for all things Corvette, so this makes Jon a well respected man in my book straight away.
All kidding aside, I always thought this was pretty insightful of him, but also, a great analogy for the American spirit. We were a country born out of a passion for freedom. The freedom to do something really dumb, adventurous, dangerous, and/or even crazy (as long as you don’t hurt anyone doing it). Why would you do such a thing? Why not?!
The crew from the Jackass movies, for instance, put their lives and limbs on the line, just to make a living entertaining us. Nothing they do is ever advisable, and certainly isn’t safe. But obviously they are doing what they love for a living, and those of us who find it entertaining are thankful they do. But if all we cared about was safety, nothing like that would ever exist. Thankfully, both the Jackasses and us viewers live a happier life, in some small part, because they do.
Yet these days, that concept seems to be lost on most Americans as we strive to put warning labels on everything, barricade our children into the house until they’re 18, pass laws to erase any ounce of danger in life (even if we’re only endangering ourselves), and generally destroy anything that is fun in the name of safety.
The whole point of freedom is the ability to do things that other people might not think you should do, but so long as you’re not hurting someone doing it, you should happily be able to do so with no impediment from government.
Whether it be currently legal activities like skydiving and/or road racing, or things currently illegal like using recreational drugs, gambling, hiring a prostitute, or all of the above. It’s your life, you should be free to live it as you see fit.
As with most all things, we’re dealing with a simple trade off. You can lead a riskier life you enjoy more, but may die younger as a result. Or you can lead a more sterile life, live longer, but be miserable doing so.
After reading that last paragraph, you’ve probably thought about it and picked one life or the other for yourself. But here’s the thing that you should really think about. Whichever you picked, you have no right to dictate that someone else pick the same for themselves.
If you opted to go the Evel Knievel route, great! Have fun and good luck. The funny thing about such daredevils, is that they rarely, if ever, try to force that lifestyle on you. Some of them do their shenanigans in public and risk the populace around them, which I would never condone—that’s criminal, violates the rights to life of others, and they rightfully should be locked up.
But at the opposite end of the spectrum, those who think risk-taking is always bad and avoid them at all costs, love to vote on legislation to ensure you lead their sanitized lifestyle.
It can be something as benign as a helmet or seat belt law, or as intrusive as the aforementioned drug, prostitution, or other vice laws.
If you know a few friends who like to sit around and get high; you know they rarely if ever, hurt anyone. So how is it the business of anyone else if they do that to themselves? I know it’s popular opinion among those who aren’t around such people, mostly based on folklore, that people who sell or use drugs are violent killers, but most are just trying to pay a few bills, and escape the miseries of life peacefully.
While Hollywood paints prostitution to be a crime ridden enterprise, the fact is that many of the consumers are just lonely guys, maybe not very attractive, who want to know what it’s like to be with a beautiful woman, and often treat the providers fairly respectfully.
Here’s where the illegality part becomes the problem. If the consumers are abusive, the laws against prostitution actually work against the victims, because they cannot call the police to help them without admitting they were engaging in prostitution.
Some areas stipulate police cannot check a person’s immigration status if that person calls the police to report a crime, because we want those people to report those crimes without fear of deportation. Yet somehow, if someone’s rights are violated during a vice encounter such as drugs or prostitution, now the same legislators don’t seem to care.
It’s rather hypocritical, quite immoral, and nearly unconstitutional to worry about the rights of someone who isn’t a citizen, yet care less about the rights of someone who is, just because they were engaging in behavior you think is wrong.
So I will always argue that America should be safety second, and enjoy your life to the fullest should be the resounding first.