Safety Schmafety

March 17th, 2008
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Those of you who’ve taken the time and effort to read MrK’s posted articles on skiing and some of his political posts will be aware of some of his disturbingly Libertarian tendencies. He actually believes that citizens have rights and freedoms beyond those explicitly permitted by the state.

If you can follow that wacky logic, you’ll understand why he has come out against the mandatory use of ski helmets. If I let my own contrarian impulses get out of control I could almost agree with him. After all, I grew up in an age without mandatory seatbelts (but with mandatory rock-hard dashboards) and didn’t wear a bicycle helmet until I was almost thirty. And for good measure, my sister dropped me on my head when I was an infant (no mandatory baby helmets!).

There are some benefits of his position which have perhaps not even occurred to him. For example, if the helmetless hordes he seems to favour could all be convinced to sign organ donor cards, we could eliminate transplant waiting lists almost instantaneously.

Not surprisingly though, MrK’s worldview is markedly off-side, at least as applied to motorcycle helmets. This was underscored in a recent Ontario court decision. It seems that, in ruling that a Sikh gentleman must wear a helmet, cultural and religious sensitivity has been trumped by the necessity for public safety. Given previous rulings on similar practices, this decision made some waves, even getting an approving nod from the usually hypersensitive Glebe and Mail.

MrK’s narrow liberalism clearly overlooked possible safety benefits of helmet use as well. Take this example from China. The fact that the gentleman survived burial under rubble using only air from his helmet begs the obvious question: how many skiers could be saved from avalanches by wearing extra-large helmets with built-in air reservoirs? Hey MrK, put that in your pipe and smoke it!

What’s not known is whether the “Buddhist meditation techniques” the worker used to slow his breathing are actually legal in China. Presumably, local authorities are looking into this, and the full weight of Chinese jurisprudence will come to bear if he inadvertently stepped over the line during his burial.

If MrK were only a little more broad-minded he’d see the obvious safety opportunities right above his own nose. Here’s the ticket – mandatory ski-helmets with hermetic air reservoirs and a federally-funded program, with prescribed national standards, making Buddhist meditation techniques available to all.

Yes there are problems out there. But if we can put a man on the moon, surely we can force people to accept common sense solutions.

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