Earlier today, I wrote about one nice thing that the newly Democratically-controlled state government here in New Hampshire is doing. In the interest of fair play, now I need to bring up one of their dumber ideas — one I’ve decried again and again.
Last week, by a narrow vote, our House passed a bill requiring everyone in a motor vehicle to wear their seat belt.
Now, New Hampshire already has some of the toughest seat belt laws in the nation — for those under 18. Prior to becoming a legal adult, you better be buckled in, strapped in, or SuperGlued in — or the driver gets nailed with a hefty fine.
Once you’re over that magic number, though, you’re on your own.
Let me get one thing perfectly straight: I wear my seat belt every time. I put it on as a matter of habit. I’ve been known to buckle up to back out of a garage, when I’ll have to get back out to close the door seconds later. And if you ride with me, you buckle up, too. Period. My car, my rules.
But I’ll be damned if I’ll go along with the state enforcing that bit of common sense.
A long time ago, I coined the phrase “applied Darwinism.” (I found out later it had been used by others before me, but I came up with it on my own.) The notion is that some people are just too damned stupid to be encouraged to pass along their genes, so if they want to be self-destructive idiots, it’s our duty to our species to let them.
Seat belts are a perfect example for this. There are very, very, very few circumstances where an individual is better off not wearing a seat belt. In pretty much any situation, you’re better off buckled in and secured. Only a moron (or someone with seriously abnormal physiology) would not be better off playing the odds and buckling up.
But foremost among our rights is the right to be an idiot. To do stupid things. To ignore advice and common sense and sanity and put ourselves at risk of death or injury.
Because that’s how we learn. Those who skip wearing their belts and end up in accidents will, I hope, learn that they were stupid for not buckling up, and start doing so. And those who don’t learn that lesson (by not surviving their accident) will, at least, provide good examples to others similarly inclined.
Likewise with motorcycle helmets. We don’t have a helmet law for adults, either. Nor should we.
And don’t hand me that garbage about the “social costs” of caring for those people who get injured by not wearing that seat belt. That’s a crap argument. By that principle, we’re long overdue to ban tobacco, alcohol, and certain “extreme” activities like hang gliding, skydiving, and bungee jumping.
Hell, winter’s winding down (I hope) here in New Hampshire. Why not a helmet law for skiiers? Why not ban skiing entirely? Apart from bringing some rough justice to pedophile Michael Kennedy, what has that ever done to benefit society?
In Massachusetts (as usual), we have a perfect example of how bad this is. They had no seat belt law for years, despite many best efforts. Finally, they got it passed, promising it would not be a “primary offense” — meaning that the police couldn’t pull you over for just that one. Then they made it a primary offense, but promised it wouldn’t be a “surchargeable offense,” meaning it wouldn’t end up costing you on your insurance. Then they came back and tried to make it a surchargeable offense — I’ve lost track of where the fight stands today.
P. J. O’Rourke, in “Parliament Of Whores,” put it best: “Giving money and power to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to a teenager.” The best you can hope for is that the results will be spectacularly entertaining.
It’s amazing how many laws proposed these days boil down to people saying “I ought to do this, but I’m too stupid or stubborn to do it on my own, so I want the state to make me — and everyone else — do it.” I, for one, and sick and tired of people using the government to compensate for their own weaknesses and failings, and treating the rest of us as if we’re as stupid and shallow and feeble as they are.