Safety Shmafety

We in the pro-freedom camp (Americans) spend too much time arguing about safety.  Or rather, we argue safety far too often in the terms laid down by our enemies– the enemies of liberty.  Though the statistics are often on our side, we’re granting the basis for the argument (that government exists to promote the physical safety of the individual) to the enemy.

Wrong premise.

Too many police departments, for example, call themselves Departments of Public Safety and the like.  That’s not their function, per se.  Their proper function is to enforce the law and the primary purpose of law, in the uniquely American sense at least, is to promote and protect your rights.  That this function has been corrupted over the years does not change the original intent.

The American Revolution was indeed fought for safety, but the safety so dearly bought therein was a rather different kind of safety from that promoted by the neo-Fascists.  It wasn’t the kind of safety taught at your local public school.  It wasn’t the kind of safety we’re training for in a fire drill or in a drivers’ education class.  That kind of safety is properly the responsibility of the individual or of private interests.

The kind of safety for which the Revolution was fought and for which the constitution was written is safety from government interference– safety from the enemies of liberty both foreign and domestic.

Historically, out-of-control governments have presented a danger to public safety far greater than all common criminal activity and standard physical danger combined.  Some government or left-wing hack asserting that we need more government intrusion as a means of promoting “safety” is a bit like advocating mass sex orgies for the promotion of abstinence.

When we’re arguing safety and public policy then, we need to make it clear beforehand which particular kind of safety we’re discussing– the safety of subjects owned by the government (the safety of tyrants and sycophants) or the safety of a free people.  They are near polar opposites.


2 thoughts on “Safety Shmafety

  1. I’m in near total agreement with you Lyle. My main concern is the practical versus the theoretical. I know that in the big scheme of things government is a much bigger threat than common criminals but one gets almost zero traction with that point. And frequently its “negative traction”.

    I do agree the more responsibility you take for yourself (the less the government takes on and does a poor job of) the more likely the population as a whole will spend it’s money and time wisely to arrive at better solutions to the problems than if it were the government trying to solve the same safety problem. Think the TSA solution versus the concealed carry on planes solution. Compare those solutions on cost, effectiveness, and convenience and see which solution is better. My guess is the individual solution wins in all categories. The same sort of comparisons should be done for all government intrusions into our lives. And simultaneously with this increase in common safety is an increase in the safety from government. And it is on narrow issues such as this that we have to focus to “gain traction”. If we can rack up some wins on the narrow issues we can then generalize and hope to successfullyexpand the battle on a widespread front.

  2. Tactically speaking, I’m inclined to agree. We still need to understand that the word “safety” has different meanings and applications.

    Specifically “justice” and “safety” are different concepts altogether. They have some significant overlap it is true, but they are very different and I’m saying they should not be used interchangeably or confused in any way. That there may be a theoretical case of absolute justice does not mean you are thereby made safe. Likewise, there may be some theoretical condition of maximum physical safety but in such a condition there will certainly be little or no justice.

    An example in rhetoric would be to go ahead and quote the statistics that refute the other side, and then go on to explain the failure of their premise– that if safety from harm were the main issue, we’d be banning the wheel, swimming pools, etc., and further explain that this kind of “safety” (the creation of a nanny state) was not the intent of the Founders at all. Quite the opposite. There you have “gained traction” by refuting their assertion on technical merit, and you’ve called their premise out at the same time. We’ve plucked the weed and dug up the roots, whereas before we may have plucked the weed while fertilizing the roots (like Republicans).

    My earlier comparison of how the “constitutional right” to an abortion is treated by the left as absolute no matter what and no matter where, verses how they treat those rights that are actually enumerated as being subject to “reasonable” and local restrictions is part of this argument. There’s a large disconnect, and I submit that it is due to a failure to understand (or refusal to acknowledge) the difference between the two kinds of “safety” I outline here, and which might be called “safety verses justice” (but then we’d have to define “justice” which is another word that seems to have lost its meaning).

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