We hear that cloying bleat from the advocates of “safety” (at gunpoint) befehls all the time. If it saves even one life, it’s worth it! They use it to justify helmet laws for motorcyclists and seatbelt laws for drivers. Air bags, etc.
But how come their logic is never applied to the source of all Safety itself?
I mean, of course, the government.
Defective Takata air bags have injured and killed at least 130 people so far that we know about – and the potential mayhem could involve literally millions of people. Because millions of “defective” air bags (34 million, to be precise) have been installed – per befehl – in cars made by a number of major car brands since the 2004 model year. These cars are in circulation – and probably many more people will be injured and killed before 34 million of these steering wheel Claymores can be defused.
Many thousands of them probably never will be – their owners blissfully unaware of the ticking time bombs positioned just inches away from their faces and the faces of their loved ones. Not everyone gets their mail. Or watches the evening news. People move, records get lost. Thirty four million cars – built over a period of more than ten years.
But what about the not-defective air bags?
The ones that worked as designed? These have also killed and maimed. No one knows the precise number, but it is not zero.
Since the dawn of the Air Bag Age in the mid-1990s, air bags have broken bones, ripped out eyes, burned skin and ended lives.
It is a fact.
Every car made since the late ’90s has these devices installed, per befehl. That’s not 34 million cars. It’s on the order of 200 or 300 million of them. And every single one of them could maim or kill someone.
This, too, is a fact.
But where is the outrage? Why do those lives not matter?
Oh, there is gabbling about the “greater good.”
And who gets to decide?
That’s what’s not being talked about, Takata-wise or otherwise.
It ought to be.
If I wreck my motorcycle and am badly injured as a result of not wearing a helmet – which I chose not to wear that day (assuming I had the free choice) then I can at least take comfort in the fact that I made the choice and now bear the consequences for that choice. But when I am forced to wear a helmet – and wake up in a wheelchair, paralyzed but my face unscathed – I am a victim of someone else’s choices.
If I choose not to keep myself fit and instead feed on bacon and Coke and potato chips, when the day comes that my chest feels tight and my last thought – as I slip into darkness – is that maybe I should have taken better care of myself – I will at least go into that good night knowing it was my choice.
But what if I am trapped in a burning car by a seatbelt – which I was forced to wear, by befehl – and am burned to death as a result? Such not only could happen, it has happened.
Air bags – like seatbelts – are not infallible. Even when they work as designed, they can be – and sometimes actually are – deadly. No matter how conscientiously something is designed and manufactured, sometimes things go wrong. There are unintended consequences. Things happen. Until humankind ascends to Google-ized transhuman perfection, this will always be the case.
Life is risk. And risk cannot be eliminated.
Which is why the moral right to weigh risk – and to choose – lies with each of us. But only for ourselves. To chose for someone else – to force someone else to accept your choice – is perhaps the ultimate effrontery; arguably, it is the fountainhead of all tyranny.
The issue isn’t whether Takata air bags or air bags in general are “safe.” It’s whether one human being has the moral right to impose a decision on another that could result in harm, however slight. And regardless of the touted benefit.
Here we come to an interesting thing. What I refer to as Cloverism (i.e., coercive collectivism) can be turned around and used (rhetorically) as a weapon against coercive collectivists. Their arguments in favor of a priori punishment – their idea that if it is conceivable that a postulated “something” (or “someone”) might cause harm, actual harm must be presumed – and punished – can be and ought to be redirected their way.
Air bags – defective or not – not only might cause harm, they actually have caused harm. Therefore, air bags – all of them, Takata and otherwise – are dangerous and must be outlawed.
If it saves even one life …
Which, of course, it would.
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