Thursday, June 22, 2006

That damned "freedom" thing!

Need more proof that the do-gooders are wanting to limit freedom in the name of "public health"? A recent discussion here focused on passionate arguments about government trying to limit smoking in consenting adults, even by telling private property owners who could and could not smoke and where they were and were not allowed to smoke.

Anyway, thanks to Kira for forwarding this to me. It's not about smoking, but about any behavior that someone other than you deems is bad for you, and wanting the government to stop it...for your own good, of course. From Townhall:
The day after Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger crashed his motorcycle, while he was still recovering from surgery to repair his fractured face, The Cincinnati Post scolded the Ohio native for not wearing a helmet. "Riders should wear helmets," the paper proclaimed, "and if they're not going to, perhaps the government should step in and make them."

The Post pined for the days when "all states required helmets," bemoaning the fact that 30 states now let adult motorcyclists decide for themselves what, if anything, to wear on their heads. The laws were changed, the editorial explained, because of "pressure from those who advocate 'freedom.'"
Yes, those pesky "freedom advocates" can be a nuisance, can't they? If they won't take safety precautions for themselves, then by God (insert big government agency here), the government should compel them to protect themselves! Unless we're talking about protecting oneself with a gun, of course. But I digress...
Notice the scare quotes. According to The Cincinnati Post, the freedom to take a risk is not really freedom at all; you are truly free only when you make the right choices -- those that minimize the chance of injury. It's a depressingly common attitude nowadays, when health promotion is routinely accepted as a justification for meddling in what used to be considered our private lives.

By the standards of "public health," which seeks above all else to minimize morbidity and mortality, Roethlisberger should not have been riding a motorcycle at all. Given the nature of his injuries, it's doubtful a helmet would have prevented them, unless it was a full-face model. But it's certain Roethlisberger would not have been in a motorcycle crash if he had never ridden a motorcycle.

If injury prevention were Roethlisberger's overriding goal, of course, he probably would not have chosen a career in professional football.
Why don't the same do-gooders who want to control our decision-making in the name of health and wellness advocate banning football? Now that would go over as well as a Kennedy at a "Take Back The Night" rally! Continuing:
The editors of The Cincinnati Post are not the only ones who are puzzled by the concept. At a recent conference sponsored by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- who brags about tracking New Yorkers' blood sugar levels and driving down cigarette consumption with high taxes and a ban on smoking in bars and restaurants -- called for "an aggressive, comprehensive public health strategy" aimed at "deadly menaces [that] result from our choices," including "tobacco addiction, unhealthy nutrition, and excessively sedentary lifestyles."

Regarding government efforts to influence what we eat and how much exercise we get, Bloomberg acknowledged that "some people may call that too intrusive." (Yeah, we're funny that way. - Ed.) He immediately dismissed this concern by relabeling it: "I call it dynamic and effective public health." You say tomato ...

The problem is that Bloomberg's idea of public health, like the CDC's, does not distinguish between deadly diseases people catch and risky things they choose to do. In his speech he equated smoking, overeating and failing to wear a seat belt with polio, cholera and tuberculosis, wishing away freedom by pretending it doesn't exist.
There you have it, folks. The mayor of the largest city in America is equating smoking (a conscious choice) with polio (a disease that one does not take proactive steps to acquire). Bloomberg is a Republican (albeit a liberal one), which is proof that do-gooders can occupy various ideological and party lines.

Finally, an argument we've heard before:
"We rely on the forceful application of law -- democratically debated and approved -- as the principal instrument of public health policy," Bloomberg said. So as long as your risky hobby or habit meets with the majority's approval, there's no need to worry, unless you think politicians sometimes are driven by their own ideological agendas.

Bloomberg wants us to know he's not one of those fanatics. "Clearly," he said, "there are many matters of personal behavior and personal taste that we have no business regulating." Oddly, he did not name a single one.
There's a ringing endorsement for you folks who want to prevent personal freedom, infringe on private property rights, and limit individual responsibility: the do-gooder mayor of NYC thinks like you do.

Does government have the right (or authority) to ban, say, gay intercourse or tattoos? I mean, they're highly unhealthy, right? What do you want a bet that the same big-government do-gooders wouldn't even THINK about proposing a Texas-type ban on sodomy or Oklahoma-type ban on tattoos, especially in NYC? After all, there are just some "matters of personal behavior and personal taste that we have no business regulating": sodomy and tattoos being among them, but the foods you eat and the cigs you smoke NOT being among them.

So, bareback a tattooed Village People throwback all you want...just make sure you don't light up or phone in a pizza afterwards.