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Dying for Freedom

Posted Dec 15 2011 10:17am

This week it was announced the war in Iraq had ended. The announcement could not be made without referring to the 4500 US soldiers who lost their lives in the nine years this war took place.

It is a terrible fact that dying is part of any war; however, this figure pales in comparison to the over 30,000 who die in the US as a result of traffic accidents each year.

We are told that Freedom is not Free, that people die in order that we have freedom. When a soldier goes to war he volunteers and he accepts that he could possibly die, after all a war consists of people on both sides trying to kill each other.  

When a person climbs into their car to go shopping, or on a business trip, or another gets on their bicycle, they do not accept that they could possibly die. They are not volunteering to sacrifice their life in the cause of freedom.

It was also announced this week that the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has recommended that all electronic devices be banned from use while driving. The NTSB has some clout, this is the organization that looks into airplane and train crashes.

Read any article reporting the NTSB’s recommendation and look at the comments that follow. People are talking about “Big Brother Government,” etc. etc. There is already a huge outcry against a cell phone ban while driving; people are concerned that a freedom is being taken away from them.

People are in denial; they think they can dial, talk, and even text safely while driving. The NTSB’s recommendation came about because a report showed that 3,092 people died last year because of distracted driving.

Compare the 3,092 who died because of distracted driving in only one year, with the 4500 who died in 9 years fighting a war in Iraq. You could say the 3,092 also gave their lives for freedom; the freedom to use a cell phone while driving. But ask the family members of those who died if their loved ones are viewed as heroes; many of those who died were the ones using the cell phone.

My main concern is the number of young people in their teens and early twenties texting and driving. These are the ones with the least amount of driving skills, engaging in the most dangerous form of cell phone use.

The annoying part I find is that most calls and text messages sent and received are not essential. These are not important business calls that drive commerce; these are idle, stupid chit-chat between friends and family. I saw one TV clip where a 19 year old boy stated, “I sent an insignificant text, ‘LOL’ and I killed a man.”

It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Will new laws be passed, and will the police enforce them? Will the courts hold people accountable for their actions, and hand down the appropriate penalties?

There used to be another freedom that was never really legal but was tolerated for many years. The freedom to get totally shit faced and then get behind the wheel of a car. Although some people still drink and drive it is no longer socially accepted.

When local cyclist Mitchell Hollon was run down from behind and killed by a distracted driver in September this year; the driver paid a $113 ticket. A friend of mine got a $1,000 ticket just this week for playing loud music in his apartment. The law is totally cockeyed.

Had the driver who hit Mitchell been drunk he would have almost certainly gone to prison, but the outcome makes little difference to Mitchell Hollon. Either way, he is still dead, and the only freedom he died for was the one to ride his bike on the road.

However, Mitchell did not voluntarily give his life in the cause of freedom, and will not necessarily be viewed as a hero. Society does not grant that luxury to his friends and family, but society wants, and even expects the freedom to continue using cell phones while driving.



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