Opinions & Editorials

U.S. society obsessed with safety

By Essie Harris
The Guardsman

The U.S. is grossly obsessed with safety and regulations to the point that our liberty is in jeopardy and our rights are compromised.

This country is ignoring the wisdom of one of our great founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin, who wrote that those who would give up essential liberty for a little safety deserve neither and will lose both.

This liberty does not only include the things we like, but also things we stigmatize, like cigarettes.

First smoking was banned from restaurants, then parks, then 20 feet from buildings, and now in some communities like San Luis Obispo and Berkeley, it is being banned altogether.

Smokers are harassed and treated like second rate citizens. Tobias Medina described his disgust for this habit in a letter to the editor, published in The Guardsman March 9, and went as far to compare smokers to rapists, murders and heroin users. Medina exaggerated the threat of second hand smoke and insinuated City College police should compromise combating more legitimate threats on campus to enforce no-smoking rules.

We all know the negative impact of smoking, but what is the negative impact of banning it?

Studies done by the National Cancer Society show indirect relationships between cancer and stress. By obsessively trying to pin-point and eliminate causes of death we are replacing our quality of life and liberty for the illusion of quantity, but in reality we are receiving neither.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer 38.2 per 100,000 die from lung cancer in the United States. Mexico’s lung cancer death rate is less than half that of the U.S., with 13.4 per 100,000 deaths. Interestingly, 28 percent of Mexicans smoke cigarettes on a daily basis compared to 16 percent in the U.S. If we are smoking less, why is cancer affecting us more?

Other countries with a lower rate of lung cancer also include Chile, Argentina, Costa Rica, Panama and Paraguay. None of these countries enforce smoking laws as strongly as the U.S. does.

This country’s manic craving for safety doesn’t stop with smoking laws. Our freedom is diminishing before our eyes and we are too scared to realize it. I can’t even eat a meal without having the nutrition information shoved down my throat, and personally, I would rather eat my meal guilt free. Helmet laws, seat belt laws, no running, no drinking after 2 a.m., no open containers – why?

Normally I use common sense with things like not putting my child in the cart at Trader Joe’s when it goes up the very cool cart escalator, but thank god I have a sign to clarify that it is potentially dangerous. This constant implementation of regulations has spawned my rebellious side.

I have found myself intentionally acting recklessly with my morning coffee, labeled “Use Caution, Hot Beverage.” I didn’t replace the batteries in my fire alarm which is required by law and yes, I even refused to wash my hands after using the rest room at the mall to spite the “Wash Your Hand” signs posted on all ten mirrors.

Despite my dubious behavior, I seem to be just fine. My actions didn’t endanger my life or anyone else and I felt liberated.

So this is for the bastard that sued McDonalds for getting fat, for the deranged woman who wouldn’t take responsibility for spilling hot coffee on her self, and for everyone else for allowing these silly warnings and regulations to litter our beautiful country: Your hypochondria is making me sick.


The Guardsman