Friday, July 20, 2012

Strapped In.

I went to the beach with my best friend Tom last week. I've been friends with him since I was seven. When we were in our twenties, we didn't talk politics much: he was very conservative, I was very liberal. As the years have gone by, we have both moved closer to the center; him a bit more so than me. I enjoy speaking with him about politics, since he's not tied to an idealogy; his ideas and philosophy are practical, grounded in experience and common sense. He caught me unawares on one topic, though. We were talking about traffic on the way to the beach.

"I don't believe in the seat belt law," he suddenly declared. "If I want to get killed in an accident, that's my business. What do you think?"
"I believe in the seat belt law."
"You were a biker...what about the helmet law?"
"I think it's a good law." I reflected for a second, then confessed. "Although I used to go over the border to Connecticut sometimes, just so I could ride without it."
"Do you think there should be a law about how big a soda you can buy?"
"No."
"What's the difference?"
"The difference is that drinking a large soda won't kill me or anybody else."

That pretty much ended the conversation, but I kept thinking about it. Maybe he was right. There does seem to be too many laws, too many restrictions. When I first moved to Mallorca, there were no helmet laws, few markings on the road, and even fewer cops. Now it looks like America...the roads are well paved and demarcated, traffic circles or stoplights are everywhere,  there are paid parking lots, and traffic officers writing hefty tickets everywhere you look. There are now laws about drinking and smoking in public, right of public assembly, and just about everything else. Just like here.

I woke up this morning to the news that a gunman in Colorado shot up a movie theater, killing a dozen people. No matter how many times events like this occur in America, I find them shocking. They also make me realize that in a perfect world of responsible citizens, laws (such as anti-gun) wouldn't be necessary. But we don't live in a perfectly sane society. Some people don't look both ways when driving through intersections, and some people have psychoses that drive them to execute innocent people.

I wish I could be a libertarian. But the world we live in doesn't allow it.




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