There’s a hole in the bucket

            Those who know me might call me a liberal.  Actually, those who know me might call me a bleeding-heart, environmentalist, falling-over-the-left-side-of-the-boat, tree-hugging, white-guilting whackjob. 

            But there are ways I lean so far right that I give my friends on the other side of the boat motion sickness.  For example, helmets and cigarettes.  OK, I get that it is your right to bike or motorcycle without a helmet and it is your right to smoke.  I am down with that.  However, I think we should have an understanding so that your moronic decisions based on who the hell knows what rationale do not affect me or any other innocent bystanders.

            If you choose to hit the open road on two wheels without anything protecting your precious noggin, it is possible you may get into an accident.  In fact, you may get into an accident with me.  And, since you are bare-headed, you will most likely suffer brain damage and need all sorts of medical care.  That’s cool; it is your choice.  However, given your decision, I think that you should not be able to get any medical benefits from the government, including disability, since it is not the taxpayers’ problem that you didn’t want to mess up your hair.  Also, my insurance company, your insurance company, and I should all be free of any financial responsibility, since again, we weren’t the ones rambling on about the freedom to sustain brain damage.  Finally, I would like to request special dispensation from the Pope and the Union of Reform Rabbis so that those who are religiously bound to feel guilty are let off the hook on this one.

            As for smoking – go for it.  But, please, do it in your home without your kids around, since they aren’t making that choice.  And, um, if you do get emphysema or lung cancer, the same financial deal as above applies.  Really, why should my insurance premiums go up because you decided to give yourself a disease?

            I know, as a liberal, I am supposed to want to protect people.  But, I’d rather protect those who cannot do something to help themselves.  Which brings me to the other area in which I might be labeled conservative. 

            I am all for respecting the rights of nations, people, and organized militias, but only when they do not infringe upon those weaker than they are.  Sure, we need to respect that some dude is a sovereign leader, but if he is trying to annihilate large groups within his nation’s borders, something should be done by those standing about.  Should it be better planned than the Iraq debacle?  Yeah.  Should we just stand by, wringing our hands, watching Robert Mugabe, and saying, “Well, it isn’t our country, so what right have we to go in?”  Well, ask Kitty Genovese.  Oh, yeah, you can’t.

             Might does not make right.  But strength means responsibility.  And, sometimes the rights of those with more power are less important than protecting those with less.  You have a right to refuse medical treatment because you think you are a deity.  You do not have the right to impose that on a little girl.  It’s all about grown-ups dealing with the consequences of their actions but not making those with less power face consequences they cannot control in the name of protecting the rights of the powerful.

              And, to the grandmother in my son’s playgroup who was aghast that once she had been falsely accused of child abuse: you are a big girl.  Suck it up.  I’d rather ten parents be falsely accused and embarrassed, as long as they were treated fairly in the process and allowed to exonerate themselves by proving their innocence, than have one single child left sitting in her home, waiting for those around her to get over respecting her parents’ rights.

             Sometimes, a situation just calls for fixing.  And sometimes, not fixing it is just the lazy way out.


This post is a part of Julie’s Hump Day Hmm roundtable.  There are lots of good posts round Julie’s way each Wednesday, so go on over and click on a few.  And Julie herself puts up some pretty good reading the rest of the week.

20 responses to “There’s a hole in the bucket

  1. I’m so with you on helmets and smoking. My dad died of cancer and never took a drag in his life. Why would anyone put cancer in their mouth on purpose??

  2. You couldn’t be more “right!” Really. There are so many things wrong with America (which is the land that I love and wouldn’t trade for anything), but one of the biggest from my perspective are the idiots who think they can do anything they want then not have to suffer the consequences of their decisions. And worse, want others to suffer for them or at least with them.


  3. ah. I agree with you totally.
    every. single. time I see a parent with their child on their hip and a cigarette in their hand it takes everything in me not to stop them and ask them wtf?!
    the helmet thing? word.
    and Mugabe? Darfur? All of these awful injustices? Why don’t we, the so-called Superpower, do anything?
    Oh yeah. They don’t have oil that we want.

  4. Don’t even get me started on smoking around children. I am particularly aghast at those who smoke in their HOMES , polluting and contaminating the air as well as every single surface. Then they wonder why their kids have athsma or chronic bronchitis, and/or are sick three times a month.

    Normally, I’m amused by people with particularly bad powers of pattern recognition, but not in this case.

    Excellent post, Emily.

  5. I sooooooooo agree with you. Although with smoking I have a bit more sympathy because of addiction issues. But the lines that society currently draws around the idea of “personal responsibility” are ridiculous.

  6. “However, I think we should have an understanding so that your moronic decisions based on who the hell knows what rationale do not affect me or any other innocent bystanders”

    I think I love you.

  7. I once had a relative who is a Highway Patrolman tell me that helmets don’t save lives, but they do let the family have an open casket. It’s kind of a sobering thing to say, but I still think you have to be extra stupid to not wear a helmet.

  8. The smoking is a huge deal for me too. Smoke all you want–but please, please, not in the car with your children.

    I seriously think it is a form of child abuse.

    We know better. You should too.

  9. There are certain issues where I am firmly on the conservative end also. I’ve admitted to being a social conservative in many respects and even agree with the Religious Right on some issues. At the same time, I am trying to balance that out with compassion because some choices that are made are not really choices. Choice implies knowledge and the reasoning ability to process that information.

    That’s where I part company with the RR social conservatives. Concern is no excuse for social Darwinism.

  10. I have read some articles recently that doctors are starting to refuse ongoing care for people who insist on smoking. Brings up the whole living by their oath thing, but I can’t say that I blame them.

    Helmets *must* be worn in Canada. No options.

  11. Am I crazy or isn’t there a helmet law? Like, nationally? As in, you can get a ticket without one?

    Okay back on point.

    “There outta be a law…”

    Aside from that being uttered sarcastically and humorously, as in, “geez louise, the shrubs of the word…there outta be a law…” I am sick to death of that phrase and hate it.

    People pushing narrow minded agendas. Hate. it. Short-sighted making a point trying to use it as a stepping stone for a larger agenda there outta be a law wasting our courts and legislatures time.

    PC? I doubt it. Blunt? Absolutely.

    I’ve argued the smoking thing until I am blue in the face. Bottom line? Nope, your right does not trump mine. Your right to make yourself ill for a quick hit does not trump my right to keep myself healthy.

    Guess what? I feel the same way about polluters of other sorts, too.

    What we have in these cases is empathic failure.

    Miss Manners says the level of discomfort determines who shall yield. Oscar ought to have become neat for Felix. Not because tidying up wouldn’t be a discomfort to him, but because living in mess is a larger state of discomfort for Felix.

    I suppose that’s my stick, in the end.

    Some things are clear, some things are murky.

    I imagined that the case of the child, for example was clear cut, until I forced myself to stop and ponder the broader effect. In the end, I decided, as Melissa put it, her job was probably done, and it was time to mend what was ailing her.

  12. There is definitely not a helmet law in every state. I’ve lived in two of them, South Carolina and Illinos. Tennessee didn’t used to have one either, but I think they do now. My father-in-law used to call young guys without helmets in Illinois “donorcylces,” as in, “They are gonna die one day and all of their young, healthy organs will be donated.”

    And I am totally with you on Zimbabwe! As an Anglican, I am especially disturbed by the targeting of church members of that country. The Archbishop on Canterbury has called for action, but no one listens. Sometimes diplomacy (and the UN) is way overrated. Anyone remember Rwanda?

  13. we were just having this conversation the other day….thinking about those who choose to drive SUVs for no real reason….and how that effects the rest of us….

  14. OMG, I’m so with you on all of that. I’m pretty left wing, but when people won’t take personal responsibility, I’m further to the right than Ann Coulter.

  15. yes – there are a handful of things that make my lefty-commie-pinko heart feel less so – the elimination of rail-road grade crossings is one. how hard is it to stop the car when the gate is down? and because one person wants to be an idiot and drive around the gate, we need to spend billions of tax payer dollars to put the road over or under the tracks?

  16. A-ha. A liberal Liza (dear) who would legislate against plain old fashioned stupidity. You’ve won my heart all over again!

  17. Absolutely with you on the helmets and smoking around kids issues. Those things drive me insane.

  18. omg! I almost did a post on the very same thing. Irresponsibility irks me. Yeah, feel the wind blow in your hair, but don’t expect me to pay for your years of rehab for the head trauma! Emily, my politics are a lot more conservative, but we think alike in a lot of ways.

  19. I don’t necessarily think that insisting on using motorcycle helmets is necessarily right or left, but whether or not the government dictates what you should do or not. Although the right insist on “smaller” government, they usually only mean in the realm of finances, but not in social issues. It is the libertarians and more extremely the anarchists that don’t want the government telling them what to do. Check out the political compass that I talked about here for more info on this:

    I agree that it is moronic not to have a motorcycle helmet law, and thankfully live in MA which has one, sandwiched between CT and NH with no helmet laws.

    I’m a week late for the Hmm, but check out my post here: