Reader Mail

Belt Ways

Clicked off along the nation's ticketed roads and byways. Also: The things the anti-Mel left gets away with. On course with Israel. Plus much more.

8.8.06

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CLICKED OFF
Re: Eric Peters's Seat Belt Lashes:

I think that Eric Peters missed an obvious point in his article, "Seat Belt Lashes." Like him, I agree that rapists and murderers are more serious criminals than those who don't wear seat belts. The reason that policeman should be out there scrambling to write tickets to the "lesser criminals" is that it funds a police force that can more easily capture those horrible criminals when it has more money.

Concerning the issue of seat belts, it is incontrovertibly safer to wear a seat belt than to not wear one. His argument that a seat belt could hurt someone is like saying a lifeguard could hurt someone; it is not reason to justify not watching the beach. Only a fool neglects to wear their seatbelt.
-- Adam Jones

I always enjoy reading Eric Peters's work. I would much more prefer that the state do more about roadway safety. A lot can be done from an engineering standpoint by straightening roads, sight distance, making curves and grades flatter and just painting edges and the middle of the road. These safety measures do not require intrusive compliance except paying a gas tax. In 2004, 44.5 percent of the people killed were wearing seat belts.

Getting one and a half persons to wear a seatbelt for their next 100 million miles will still result in a fatality. Making roads safer can be a measure that benefits thousands per road corridor per day even if they are drunk, impaired by lack of sleep or talking on a cell phone.
-- Danny L. Newton
Cookeville, Tennessee

Nice rant.

Kind of low hanging fruit though, wasn't it? "Freedom, unjust laws, nanny state, unfair taxes." You seem to have hit all the hot buttons.

But having read your article, I really only have one question for you:

If someone is injured in an automobile accident, while not wearing a seatbelt, should we (the public) use our emergency response units to provide medical assistance to that person?

Based on your article, I'd have to guess that you would say that we should NOT aid that person. After all, following your logic, the freedom not to wear a seatbelt would seem to imply that a person should take responsibility for his/her actions. So if someone is hurt because a seatbelt is not worn, then they deserve no help from us.

Putting aside the question of how emergency response teams would enforce this matter (do they request confirmation of seatbelt usage before answering a call?), is this really how we want to act as a society?

Even if you want to ignore the fact that we are still essentially a Christian society (at least as far as American attitudes towards charity and good deeds are concerned), is it really a smart thing to do? Let's ignore morality for a moment and look at the economics.

In the article you throw around some numbers in money that is being spent on "Click-it-or-ticket" laws. $2.6 million in California, is quoted. Big sum, no doubt. But how much money does the state of California spend on seatbelt-less accident victims? Police, paramedic, fire department, emergency room personnel. All of that effort adds up to a lot of money. Something quite far in excess of the $2.6 million, I would suspect, year after year after year. Now let's take that number and multiply it across the country. Again, not having any data, I can only suspect the probable enormity of the amount. Shouldn't we be worried about those costs?

How much do you and I spend to assist those freedom loving motorists who can't take the time to use safety products that are standard in every automobile?

Economically, it's a no-brainer. I'm willing to bet that if an economist is pressed on the issue, he'd have to admit that, if we are not going to cut these people off from aid and assistance, then it would be a good thing to take steps to control our costs.

But I'm not much on the economic argument myself. I don't want to live in a society where everything is determined solely by cost. As far as I can see, helping people who are injured is the right thing to do. It's an expense that we bear because the world is full of idiots. But they are our idiots. Our brothers and sisters, our friends and neighbors. People who don't always make good decisions. That doesn't mean we let them bleed to death in the middle of the highway.

But just because we are good people doesn't mean we have to be stupid. If someone is too dense to figure out that seatbelt use is a good thing, then I'm all in favor forcing the issue with them. Spare me the "slippery slope" argument. We're not talking about regulating stretch pants or any other minor issue. We're talking about hundred of thousands of people suffering and dying because they can't make a minuscule effort to perform a necessary action, buckling a seatbelt.

So, let's get back to my question: do you favor letting people suffer and die because they do not wear seatbelts?

Or would you prefer some other regulation that tracks them down after the accident and then forces them to pay up? There's an unenforceable rule if I ever heard one. I can see it now: "Your honor, John Doe owes the states $250,000 in response costs. The fact that Mr. Doe is now paralyzed, mentally damaged and will never walk or talk again, let alone work another day in his life, is regrettable. But if he doesn't pay up, we request that the police confiscate his house and put him and his wheelchair out into the street!" Like that will ever happen.

Forcing people to wear seatbelts is fine with me. The sooner the better.
-- Robert F. Casselberry

Eric Peters's "Seat Belt Lashes" in this morning's edition made me think about the people who whine that the Patriot Act is a totalitarian threat to our liberties. In contrast, profit-motivated nanny state safety and health laws affect otherwise law abiding citizens more regularly and more insidiously. While the Patriot Act is a bona fide attempt to promote security from REAL threats of terror, the nanny state rules on kid's toys, seat belts, school vending machines, fireworks, school bullying, motorcycle helmets, acceptable language, smoking, and, yes, even dodge ball reflect a decidedly unhealthy change in the American personality.

There was a time when Americans were admired for the ability to stand on one's own two feet. Safety nets (literally and figuratively) were rarer and success required hard work, initiative and risk. That combination of attributes often moved American industry, science and education forward in leaps and bounds.

While not an expert in such matters, I would wager a cold beer that the social upheaval of the '60s and '70s, political correctness, feminism, bigger government at all levels and the emergence of an activist public education system are all at play in our current aversion to personal risk and our acceptance of meddling by bits and pieces.

Taking dumb risks with our or others' safety is not wise, but a better balance between personal responsibility and government fiat is necessary to deal with real threats. We shouldn't be surprised when some starry-eyed government yahoo tries to mandate helmet use 24/7- and we buy it. But, keep in mind what happened to Ned Beatty AFTER he said, "We don't want any trouble here."
-- Deane Fish
Altamont, New York

I am a believer in wearing seat belts, but that is my choice and should not be the government's. Some of the other things that the government thinks are good for us is no hard bristles on tooth brushes any longer and heating pads that have to turn off after a few hours. I am a wildlife rehabber and used to tell people put the baby in a box and set halfway on a heating pad to keep warm, but it they have a new pad it won't work for long.

You could write a book with items "big brother" does not want you to have any longer. I am an adult and should have a choice of what I want, good for me or not.
-- Elaine Kyle

Eric Peters is a disgrace for even thinking that an argument can be made about the enforcement of seat-belt rules. If you travel in a car and you don't wear a seat-belt you are suffering from at least low IQ, and at worst a flagrant disregard for your own safety. In Victoria, Australia from 1970 compulsory wearing of seat-belts and a lowering of the drink-driving limit of 0.8% to 0.5% slashed the states road toll by over a third, from well over 1,000 people to a rate that hovers in the 300's. These simple, but effective rules have saved many lives and spared many family from the tragedy of road trauma.

As for murders and gangbangers, I thought the Homicide squad and organized crime squad took care of those crimes, while a traffic squad enforced traffic related misdemeanors. Eric Peter's article was a waste of space, and before he spouts off with more uninformed claptrap, he should apply a common-sense test, and not waste the reader's time with ideological nonsense masquerading as indignant posturing.
-- Nathan Maskiell
Melbourne, Australia.

Two more reasons cops like seat belt enforcement:

1) It allows cops to stop and investigate obviously guilty (of something) dirtbags without that pesky legal requirement of "reasonable suspicion" needed to inquire into whether someone has broken some law.

2) It is an extension of the "broken window theory" of crime prevention, i.e., keeping the pressure on for small infractions short circuits other larger crimes which invariably follow.

Now, I like keeping lots of pressure on lowlifes, punks, pukes, druggies, drunks, and assorted criminal scum. Catch 'em in their vehicles for something "small" and pour on the heat. That's why you see so many of them walking.

But the snares always expand to capture the decent folk. And tough enforcement of seat belt laws (as opposed to reasonable encouragement of seat belt use) just plain violates the tried and true American value of a limited government leaving honest folks alone.
-- Gary Cape
Whitewater, Colorado

In suburbia outside of Chicago, the "safety Nazi's" are everywhere making sure everyone has a seat belt on, especially on those nasty residential streets where the speed limit is 30 mph (and most cars have air bags good to 60mph or more). As I'm riding by these safety traps on my motorcycle, I wonder, why shouldn't they ban all motorcycles? There is no way to wear a seat belt on one? Or have an airbag? Just a thought.
-- John P.
Elmhurst, Illinois

Here's a driving campaign that we might be able to get behind. Every week I drive past a fire station in Springfield, Virginia that has a sign posted asking me to "Support Mothers Against Drunk Driving Programs."

I've thought about that sign a lot, and I think I can.
-- W. L. Roughton, Jr.
Fairfax Station, Virginia

MORE MEL MAYHEM
Re: Andrew Cline's Mel, But Not Jesse?:

Oh, yes, the left should be held accountable, but I won't hold my breath until that happens. But look at it this way, the more they rant the more people become conservatives. So keep ranting.
-- Elaine Kyle

In his article "Mel, But Not Jesse?" Mr. Cline stated

"In 1996, director Stacy Title released Last Supper, a film in which a group of liberal graduate students murder a series of caricatured conservative stereotypes because the world is 'a better place' without all those non-liberals."

While I agree with his other examples, the use of Last Supper for this article is not appropriate. If anything, the film is actually conservative, mocking the self-righteousness of modern liberalism by taking it to its logical conclusion. The murderous graduate students are not portrayed heroically, but rather as a group of people sinking into psychosis, and the only heroic character is a conservative radio talk show host who offers a vigorous defense of free speech, even for conservatives.

Mr. Cline then concludes his discussion of Last Supper by saying:

"Yet another advocate of murdering people with the 'wrong' opinions, and again the Left yawns. Can you imagine if a conservative made a film advocating the murder of radical leftists?"

Mr. Cline has it backwards. Murderous conservatives on film would elicit yawns, since it would be a matter of "been there, done that -- repeatedly." The shock was that no Hollywood liberals showed shock or outrage at their portrayal in Last Supper, something I can only attribute to the fact that it was a small film.
-- Scott C. Pandich

In response to Andrew Cline's article regarding the clarion call for the end of Mel Gibson's career in Hollywood as compared to the passive response elicited (from the same groups beckoning for Mel's head on a platter) by other, I would argue even filthier, anti-Semitic rants by popular left-wing names/celebs/politicians, etc. I would make the following suggestion: Might it not be so much the anti-Semite nature of Mel's rant that has them all worked up? Because, after all, many of those so loudly "protesting" such remarks seem to consistently be on the anti-Israel side themselves of so many of today's issues)? Rather, might it not be the person who said them (Mel) and what he has come to represent and stand for over the past few years -- a staunch, staunch Catholic -- that has them erupting? Mel's anti-Semite remarks, in my opinion, only serve as PC cover for what the left really cannot tolerate -- a devout Christian/Catholic amongst them.
-- John Keohane
London, England

To paraphrase Churchill; Seldom, in the course of human misadventure, has so much been assumed, by so many, based on so little.

Of course, I am speaking about Mel Gibson's critics, and their number is legion. They are also arrogant and over assuming.

We have two pieces of information. One is a report that Gibson's father once denied that the Holocaust happened. The other is a drunken litany of slurs against Jews by Gibson himself.

I have one question. Who among his critics is willing to have their past toughly probed and stand condemned based on such a low requirement of evidence? How many had fathers, for example, that once had used a derogatory term for a minority, and then once used the same term themselves? Would they be willing to be condemned as racists on that basis alone?

I think not.

And rightly so, because it is an unfair standard. Any person deserves the right to be judged on whole of his life's actions in such a case, not an isolated instance. What is happening here, says a great deal more about the Gibson's detractors, than about Gibson himself.
-- Scotty Uhrich
Glyndon, Minnesota

AS JED SAID
Re: Jed Babbin's Democrats' Danse Macabre:

From Jed's mouth to God's ear!
-- unsigned

Sir, you are really starting to get on my nerves. You and Peggy Noonan make a great pair. Your implied premise that everything was better when you held an appointed office. Noonan the same. How you wax wisely about everything. To me, you're just an old man that's been there, done that and now you know it all. I don't think I have seen such a time when the President makes a move to do something bold and his own congress isn't behind him. The courts are working day and night to stop him, the CIA, the FISA Court, the newspapers, inside people waiting to leak inside info. Let's see how effective you would be in this atmosphere. We have large new government departments that the "people" have screamed for and then Bush is spending too much. I realize you get face time every time you criticize Bush but it's really getting old. If the president ever had any solid support that he counts on, you would see the bold man that is just itching to cut loose. He is a decisive person that has been locked down by this ridiculous media and no support. I think you better think twice with your arrogant attitude of saying the first thing that comes to your mouth. Think of how much more good if some of you people in The Printed Word starting giving support. How empowering would that be? Bill Kristol is another over the top critic.
-- T.J. Callahan
Holland, Michigan

PLEASE stop using the term Democratic to refer to the Democrat Party. As you said in your story:

"Now the Michael Moore-Pinch Sulzberger-Cindy Sheehan Dems are about to purge poor ol' Joe Lieberman from their party in Tuesday's primary because he supports the war in Iraq. There's no other issue among the Dems."

So as you can see there is nothing democratic about the Democrat Party. They do not except any thought but the left wing nuts.
-- Elaine Kyle

LET IT BE
Re: Philip Klein's Let Israel Stay the Course:

Exactly right -- Israel must defend herself!! Who has the right to tell them when or how to fight this war. Since when do we make deal with terrorists?? I thought that has been the big battle cry -- "We don't make deals with terrorists." Israel is defending herself against Hezbollah terrorists (supported by Syria and Iran). These terrorists never keep their word. Why are the world leaders giving these Hezbo's any type of moral status? They wear no uniform, they are not a Nation, they are blood thirsty killers -- many times using innocent human shields. And they want moral authority? This PC fighting doesn't work...especially with terrorists. Terrorists kill and that's it. We should be supporting Israel 100 percent and Israel needs to fight this war on her terms -- period.
-- Kathy
Arizona

All of this continuing bias, from all media links, in support of anything Israel does is rather troubling. Seems to me that the root cause of the Middle East problems are: A. Israel's continued stealing of Arab lands on the West Bank, and b. Israel's sustained willingness to give any and all countries in the world the 'finger' whenever they raise a question about Israel's actions. Seems to me that a small tac-nuc in the laps of the Knesset might help rebalance things.

Let's hope that it is significant that France is taking the lead in the ceasefire resolution. It is always hard to tell if France's hatred of the U.S. is its sole motivating force, but let's hope that is not the case. France should have no love lost for Hezbollah, which killed 58 French troops at the time of the bombing of the Marine barracks in 1983, and has had numerous other engagements with France, some of them inside France itself.

The U.S. owes nothing to Hezbollah given its attacks on us, not least the beating death of Robert Stethem. I had hoped that the end game would be once the Israelis get Hezbollah on the ground that we would send in a force to add our firepower to the denouement, but maybe that is too much to expect.

I would bet that this ceasefire resolution is going to look like Swiss cheese and will be "negotiated" for weeks if not months. i.e., it will actually be a POST-war document rather than a ceasefire WITHIN the war. The reality is that there will need to be SOME modus vivendi in south Lebanon after the Hezbollah War. I suspect that that is what this resolution will be, negotiated very methodically while Israel keeps hitting Hezbollah.
-- Greg Richards

READER MALES AND FEMALES
Re: The letters of Beverly Gunn (under "Conservatives in Iraq"), R.L. Markley (under "Root of the Problem"), and Thomas E. Stuart (under "Bay of JFK") in Reader Mail's The War Continues:

With regards to the letter by Beverly Gunn concerning the "NR Goes to War" article, I wish to second every last jot and title of Beverly's letter. This is one non-elite, non-intellectual, current New Englander that wishes that this country had a whole lot more of Beverly and a whole lot less of the intellectual elite class. Intellectual elites are like lawyers, you need some of them, but you must be ever vigilant that they do not over breed.

Right on Beverly, I wish that I could express it just half as eloquently as you did.
-- Ken Shreve
New Hampshire

Mr. Markley sums up the current problem in the Middle East nicely. As world weather patterns seem to be echoing the 1930s, so too do international events. Others have noted the similarities between the rise of Hitler and Nazism in Germany and Ahmadinejad and Islamofascism in Iran. Hitler had his Mussolini and Ahmadinejad has his Assad. Hitler sponsored the Spanish Civil War and today's Israeli-Hezbollah struggle bears an eerie resemblance to that event. Ahmadinejad's "Anschluss" has already begun and persecution of the Jews is now a main point in his rhetoric. Next, we are likely to see "willing" mergers of Iran with some of the Caspian states or, even, a free Iraq.

The point here is that people have to wake up to what is transpiring in the world. The problem of Iran and Islamofascism are not going to go away without stringent effort. War is spreading and will continue to do so, whether we wish it or not. I am not sure exactly what, if anything, can be done to stop it. But, irregardless of what the free world may or may not do, warfare is going to continue. It is time to decide just how much devastation we (Western Civilization) are prepared to endure in this conflict and pace ourselves accordingly.

One final point. There was an Asian power in the 1930s that wished to expand in the Pacific. This nation viewed the United States as the only true impediment to its ambitions at the time. It was closely allied with the western power, Germany. We ended up fighting a brutal war against that nation at the same time we fought in Europe and Africa against Germany and Italy. That nation was Japan. In today's world, substitute China for Japan and an uncanny resemblance begins to emerge here as well. As we just remembered the anniversary of the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima, we might wish to consider the ramifications of a two-front nuclear war.

It is time for people to wake up and take a good hard look at the direction this world is taking.
-- Michael Tobias
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

Thank you, Mr. Stuart, for your letter exposing JFK. I was delivering lumber in Manchester, NH the day I heard the news. Unlike many Americans, I cheered. I still have the portable radio that was on the dashboard of my truck and the source of the information. I still remember the exact words I shouted. Not printable. I remember hearing one minister tell me personally, that it was probably the Salvation of the Nation.

As for Cuba, a national embarrassment, Iran may well be just like it. We really need to deal with Iran now! And I mean with several capable nukes. And then put Syria on notice. Cough up Hussein's war materials or suffer the same fate. And the world must know that we support Israel. The instant that we turn our back on Israel, the US is gone. It is almost gone now. But I firmly believe God is withholding our punishment because we still support Israel. This runs against the grain of many ministers in this country. So be it.

As for Vietnam. I don't care who started it, Vietnam was a war to win, and I expect God will validate it. And America will be labeled as a gutless nation, cause we cut and run. Because of public opinion shaped by some of the most trusted men in America. Lot of preachers mimicked them. Amazing how many preachers repeat canned sermons, supposedly from the Bible, and get their political views from CBS. I doubt very much that the Holy Spirit speaks to a minister from inside a canned sermon, or from the bowels of CBS. During congressional meetings Kerry threw out a small number in reference to the number of people that would be killed for associating with the US, if we cut and run. The millions that died in South Vietnam and Cambodia, after the last chopper cut and run, are valued by God, just as much as Americans. Kerry's' prediction proved to be false, false by several millions. Yet Kerry still has credibility enough to be seriously considered for the Oval Office. Shame on America! Amazing how Israeli victims and South Vietnamese victims seem to have no faces. The citizens of Germany were responsible for nurturing Hitler (small case intentional, as is much of this letter). The citizens of Japan were responsible for nurturing the beliefs of their leaders. The citizens of Lebanon are responsible for aiding and abetting Hezbollah. Politically correct bombing will not be effective. Proven in Hanoi.

As for "Forgetting about Vietnam," I am reminded every time I get up to pee, and every waking hour. I am glad I went, but I did bring home one round and over 30 pieces of shrapnel. Along with a lot of boils and guts that have been in distress ever since 'Nam. I get a real snicker when I hear some airhead say I ought to forget it. And then he or she wants to impress me with their military stories or lack of them, in the same breath. Shameless!

By the time Congress pulled most of the financing from the South Vietnam Military, my politics was pretty well solidified. I have held leftist Americans in contempt ever since. Communism is still a viable word in this house. I consider Americans that support Jane Fonda and Cindy Sheehan, Communists. The intention of the anti-war pacifists, is to destroy America. Because they feel threatened by a Nation that was founded on the Word of God. Thus the reason for removing God from every facet of our lives.

Communism is tyranny by absolute control. So is Islam. So is globalization in the name of the UN. This morning I watched on Fox News, a female host, giggle at the mention of getting out of the UN. Several very credible comments were made in support of trashing the UN. Even the people from Fox don't fully understand the danger of having alliances with organizations and governments outside the United States. A lot of Americans have become very well pinkoed by their associations, their churches, their colleges, their sports bars and their stubborn worship of America without God. Yet with Hezbollah and mosques protected by their incessant reference to freedom of religion. And illegal aliens protected by those that feel we can get along with Mexico if we let them infiltrate our land illegally, steal our resources and offer them land for peace. Again, Shame on America.

I heard a minister once say that if God gives you a job to do, don't you dare say "Let go and Let God", and throw the job back into Gods' lap. As a Christian Nation, America has a job to do. Feed the poor, protect the unprotected, spread the Word of God, train leaders to be Godly leaders and protect the womb. Whether it be here at home or abroad. America threw God out of our schools in 63 and later removed the protection of the womb for the unborn. Going to war to protect a nation from tyranny doesn't go too well with God while terrorists of the worst kind shred young lives while they still live in their mothers' womb. Going to war while feminism races to destroy the lives of young girls through abortion and military combat, doesn't set too well with God. A Christian nation needs to fight in the name of God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. While closing down abortion clinics, arresting the murderers that work there, throwing illegal aliens and terrorists networks out of the country. All this while taking women out of combat, putting them in traditional supportive roles and protecting them from being in danger. (Nurses that work in hospitals receiving combat wounded, are to be honored for their service. And I full well appreciate from experience the work of nurses. I full well mean no disrespect. But there is no place for women being purposely placed in a foxhole. Or a tank either. And I know there are a lot of nurses that still relive the horrors of working in hospitals in war torn nations. Thank You.) And while doing everything possible to redeem the time and turn this nation back to God. The God of our Fathers. The God of our Heritage. The One God.
-- Martin N. Tirrell
Lisbon, New Hampshire

Mr. Stuart, once again, my compliments. You have a true talent for rekindling the dormant flame of indignation. We too often forget the real JFK legacy, one his contemptible bottle nursing brother, whose greatest claim for a place in the memory of his countrymen is his swimmingly successful un-prosecuted manslaughter, persistently attempts to keep hidden behind the veil of pity from the assassination. A legacy of imagined patriotic elan, insidious intrigues, and witless foreign policy. No wonder Bill Clinton liked him so much. God save us from another.
-- Mike Showalter
Austin, Texas

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