Thursday, June 05, 2003

Save Your Own Life or We’ll Make You Pay
By Alexander Marriott UNLV Rebel Yell: June 10, 2003

Nationally, Police agencies are stepping up enforcement of seatbelt laws, and in the case of Nevada this means that if you’re pulled over for something (you can’t be pulled over for not having a seatbelt on) and aren’t wearing your seatbelt you will be given a ticket requiring you to pay a fine.

Never has such a blatant scheme for fleecing citizens been cloaked in such disturbingly tyrannical rhetoric. The supposed justification given for this renewed interest in seatbelt laws, coming at the convenient time of state budget crises, is to save lives. Because it’s common knowledge that saving lives is the purpose of government, right? Well, not a free government, if you that is what you want.

For if we wish to be truly consistent then the government should prevent all travel, because there is risk of death when one drives a car, seatbelt or not. There is a risk of death in walking, even in your own home, especially if you’re old and fall down the stairs; your weak and brittle neck could break. Where is the life-saving government for these real risks?

What business is it of the police if I don’t wear a seatbelt? If I’m in an accident and are not wearing a seatbelt the only one I injure is me. My not wearing a seatbelt infringes on no one else’s rights, which brings up the only legitimate function of the law and the police, to stop or arrest those who infringe on the rights of others, like rapists, thieves, and murderers.

Of course the ultimate response of the person who really believes seatbelt laws are reasonable is that saving lives is more important than this minimal infringement of one’s rights. It may be acceptable to some to willingly given up their right to do with their lives, risking them included, whatever they see fit, but a government cannot be subjective with its citizens and cannot be inconsistent with its laws if it expects to remain free.

Either people are free to do with their lives what they will as long as they don’t infringe upon the rights of others or they aren’t. There is no gray area or compromise in a subject of such import. When Patrick Henry said, “Give me Liberty or give me death!” he was quite serious and quite right, life without liberty is death in practice.

But how does this tie in with seatbelt laws? Very few dictatorships happen overnight or suddenly, and are more often than not the result of constant erosion of the rights of men. This seatbelt law and the enforcement of it represents one such an erosion, albeit a small one, but an erosion nonetheless. It is unjust and logically fallacious in a free country for such a law to exist, and as such the police, as citizens, should refuse to enforce it and the rest of us should refuse to obey it or pay the fine.

Of course the people who thought up and passed these laws and are now trying to more vigorously enforce them probably aren’t mini-Hitlers or Stalins-in-training, they are merely miserable bureaucrats trying to come up with nice sounding ways to extract money from us to bribe us so that we don’t fire them. Not only won’t they be able to steal our money, but they’ll get fired to boot as long as we refuse to be fleeced any longer.

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