I got a bit of a debate going on Twitter this morning when I reacted to this tragic news:
HENDERSONVILLE, SC (AP) – A 12-year-old girl has died after a wreck on an all-terrain vehicle in Colleton County.
The Post and Courier of Charleston reported rescue crews were called to a home near Hendersonville shortly after 1:30 p.m. Monday.
Colleton County Fire and Rescue Director Barry McRoy says witnesses said some children at a birthday party were driving two all-terrain vehicles in the woods behind the house when 1 of the vehicles rolled over.
The girl was treated by paramedics and was flown to the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston where she died. Her name has not been released…
My reaction was simple, and straightforward: “Why is this legal?”
My rhetorical question was quickly reTweeted by two or three users, with Tyler Jones adding an answer: “Rednecks in the Gen Assembly.”
Palmetto Record added this elaboration, “The under-16 helmet law was signed earlier this year — should kids now be banned from ATVs altogether?”
To which my answer is, yes.
But the libertarian view was represented, as it always is. This time, my friend Bryan Cox played the Mark Sanford role, saying, “I’ll bet more kids die riding in cars than driving ATVs. Ban those too? Risk is inherent to freedom.”
For me, that was easy to answer. Riding in cars is an unavoidable risk, in a society that lacks adequate public transit. Riding an ATV is absolutely unnecessary. Big difference.
Bryan elaborated on his point by saying:
If govt should ban those under 18 from activities deemed an unnecessary risk — why not skiing, swimming, football as well?
My reply? I merely expressed my weariness with the “We shouldn’t do A unless we also do B” argument, which is always presented as a way of preventing us from doing A, never as a way of advocating that we do B. In fact, B is generally deliberately chosen for its utter lack of political viability.
Bryan added, “The judgment ATV riding isn’t of value, but football is = opinion. Govt making those arbitrary content calls isn’t freedom.”
No one can ever accuse me of valuing football. But I also know there is little point in trying to ban football, in this society. There is a chance of banning ATV riding by minors. So we should do it, and at least save the lives we can.
That’s because that’s what government is — communities deciding for themselves what they will countenance and what they will not. It’s not some entity out there imposing something. It’s us. And I know my neighbors. They won’t even consider banning football. So I’ll say it again: Let’s save the lives we can.