Unsafe at any speed--commentary

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Let the nannies peck away. Nobody gives them much mind when it comes to how we run our lives

By Mike Forster

  I recently read that a  study showed that some former football players had brain injuries on a par with former professional boxers.

It seems that both sports can result in damage to the noggin; at least that’s what autopsies have shown.

The study could be a first step toward limiting some forms of contact in football.

What the study didn’t state was how much money these players had made over the course of their careers and how much enjoyment they received from being a pro athlete.

The fact is, sports (like everything else) can provide great rewards, and those come with risks.  In addition to the risk of losing, participants run the risk of physical injury.

Over the years, there have been attempts to legislate safety into our sports.  Some have been successful, such as the mandatory use of batting helmets in baseball.  Others have failed, such as President Theodore Roosevelt’s attempt to ban college football (true story, there).

Safety zealotry extends beyond the sporting world, of course.

When it comes to safety concerns, my experience is there is law and there is nagging.

When a law is enacted that tells us to be more safe, we generally follow it, particularly if disobeying it can result in a fine (such as with seatbelt laws).

When nagging is used to try and get us to change our behavior, we generally ignore it.

That’s another reason why I love this nation of ours:  We don’t let the would-be nannies take charge.

This month’s issue of Consumer Reports magazine includes results of a study on risky behavior.

The magazine puts forth data which, I suppose, is supposed to have us feeling shameful over our unwillingness to kowtow at the altar of safety.

Kindly brace yourself for what follows.  If you’re squeamish, I urge you to stop reading now.

A sampling of the data lists such unsafe behaviors:  Nearly three quarters of us insert cotton swabs into our ear canals.  Half of us don’t have a carbon monoxide detector in our homes.  40% of us eat raw cookie dough, and more than one in ten of us drink a beer while running power tools.  Finally,  a shocker:  The majority of us don’t have  rubber mat in our showers.

To all of you fellow Americans, I say, “God bless.”

With the exception of the cookie dough eating, I check every one of those boxes, above.  And, if I happened to like the taste of it, I would also eat raw cookie dough quite happily.

If not for sticking in your ears, what is the purpose of cotton swabs?  

I am quite comfortable not knowing how much carbon monoxide is in my home (or radon, for that matter). 

And working with power tools happens to make me thirsty.

The point is, despite all of the nagging, the public service announcements and the pervasive warning labels, we pretty much do as we please.  

And thank goodness for that.

You often hear commentators lament, “When, exactly, did we become a nation of wimps?”.  What they should be asking, instead, is, “When did we become a nation of people willing to give these nannies the time of day, since everyone ignores them anyway?”.

Here’s an example of the irony of it all:  At the first hint of snow, we shut down schools and, with the resultant free time, 9-year old kids are out slogging through the woods, shooting deer.

Parents let kids hunt.  Grown men choose to play professional football.  These are logical choices and each has potential consequences, both good and bad.

You, too, must make some similar decisions, albeit, on a less impressive scale.  You must decide what is acceptable risk for you, in the pursuit of what brings you enjoyment or material wealth (or both).

But the key to that process is that it is YOU making the call, not some niggling nanny.

The right to be left alone is still one of our most cherished, and we must ensure that it is not sacrificed under the guise of keeping us all safe.

I, for one, will stand up for your right to live your life as you please. 

With apologies to Charlton Heston, I will do so until they pry that cotton swab from my cold, dead ear canal.