Walk This Way
You don't have to comment with the story of how you went over the handlebars and landed on your head and would have died had it not been for your dorky-yet-life-saving helmet. I know. Really. I get it - helmets save lives. That doesn't mean they don't look dorky. Because they do. All of them. And yes, I know - wouldn't you rather look dorky than be dead.
So I asked my friend if she's getting her kid a helmet, and she said something that surprised me. That she has to. Apparently it's a law. And that offends me.
Never mind for a minute that I find helmets to be dorky. I will be honest with you. If I had a kid, and there were no helmet law, and my kid were riding their bike with training wheels on flat sidewalks in a suburb, no, I would not make my kid wear a helmet. Riding in the street, riding down hills, all that - yeah, I'd probably force the helmet.
What offends me is the idea that this is a law. That decision-making is being taken away from people law by law. There's something wrong with this. With people not having to take any personal responsibility outside of what the law tells them to do. Can it really be healthy to not have to think for yourself?
I don't think so. Not only do I find it insulting to people who are then forced to follow the law, it strikes me as unhealthy. Where will it end? It recently became a law in San Francisco that supermarkets are no longer allowed to bag groceries in plastic bags. They have to provide paper bags. Supermarkets are not happy about this - paper bags cost them more money than plastic bags. Jennie wants you to see this. So see it.
Is this going to become the norm all over the country? Will a law be passed that prohibits plastic garbage bags soon? Ziplocs? Where does it end? Should it end by force?
There's this theory in therapy that you can't say to a patient, "The reason you own 86 jackets is because as a child you were forced to wear a hand-me-down jacket for four years in a row." They have to figure it out themself, because it will mean more that way. Is it more important that plastic is yanked from the shelves next week, or that people get interested in being green and saving the earth and come up with ways to conserve on their own?
Here's another law I disagree with - that whole being illegal to let a kid sit in a car unattended thing. That's ridiculous and pathetic. It's also ineffective since at least once a year we hear of a child dying because they overheated in a car. There were many times growing up that I stayed in the car while my mother went shopping - much more fun for me to sit there reading my book than have to follow my mother around the supermarket, drugstore, or stationery store. And if I got bored (or hot, or cold, or felt like a stranger looked at me the wrong way) I could just get out, lock the doors, and go inside the store to find my mom.
However, my mother is not a fucking moron. She didn't let me sit in a car by myself when I was a baby. Or even a very little kid. She let me stay in the car in places she felt were safe. Places I was comfortable. If I got warm , I cranked open a window for some air (because in those days it wouldn't set off an alarm, plus we had manual windows, not electric ones).
Living in Florida, I called the police several times when I saw dogs panting in cars. It's *really* hot there. So hot that when you turn off the air conditioning in your car, it immediately gets hot and stuffy. How people thought it was okay to leave an animal in that environment baffles me.
Are people really so stupid and lazy that they can't stop to think "gee, I have a two year old and it's 90 degrees out, so even though it'll be a pain in the ass, I should NOT leave the kid in the car while I run in to pick up a prescription"? Yes, apparently they are. They don't think ahead enough to realize they might get stuck in a line full of geriatric people who move slowly, or might have a problem with their insurance, and what they think will be two minutes could be stretched to more than 20.
So you say the laws are for them. Fine. That's why people should be able to opt out of laws that take away the thinking. Isn't there a road in Europe that has no speed limit? I wonder how many car accidents happen there. Am I supposed to assume there's a death every day because it can't possibly be safe to drive as fast as you want? I don't. I assume people who drive there appreciate the freedom and handle it responsibly, so the freedom won't be taken away from them.
San Francisco is a bit unique when it comes to laws - they're more suggestions and guidelines, rather than laws. There is construction going on where I work - so much so that a cop is stationed there, to help coordinate street traffic with construction workers with pedestrians. Every day I cross the street in the middle of the block, rather than at the corner. Cop never even blinks. Jaywalking schmaywalking.
This is how it should be. I am an adult. I am capable of deciding when it is safe to cross a one-way street. If it were not safe, I would not cross where I do. I know that in another state, I would not be able to get away with this.
Now, I know that there are a LOT of dumb people out there. And maybe it's for those people that laws are invented. But if that's the case, shouldn't we be able to "test out" of having to follow certain laws?
I'm just worried this nation is headed in a direction that does not involve having to think and make good decisions, but rather follow laws.