Safety – Freedom (Part 2)

My second freedom post deals with how the government keeps us safe.  By infringing on our freedoms, of course.  Because government officials feel they are more intelligent than the general population, and therefore better able to choose for us what will make us safe.  There are millions of little ones, like making it illegal to put gasoline in certain colored containers.  But I’ll focus on the ones that have affected me personally.


Now, Liberals just love the environment, right?  Not to generalize or anything, but aren’t conservatives usually considered the ones who don’t care about the environment, while liberals are trying to save this world from human destruction?  It’s not really relevant.  Once, I had a car.  A lovely, little 1996 Honda Civic.  I loved it!  Not just because it was a Honda, and despite being 13 years old gave us almost no trouble.  I loved it because it got 40 mpg, or more, regularly.  Can you imagine?  We paid about $3,000 for it, and it never once got below 35 mpg.  Part of the reason, I imagine, was because it was tiny; a nice, light hatchback.  It had three seat-belts in the back-seat, but couldn’t fit three adults.  Or three car seats.

Oh, yes.  Car seats.  Did you know that I can’t make the choice to let my 4-year-old just use a set belt?  (Here’s a summary of state child restraint laws.)  In Illinois he won’t be able to ride without a booster seat until he’s 8.  But, wait.  That’s good, right?  It’s safe.  We can’t just let parents set their infants in back-seats with no restraints.  Guess what? I care about my children more than the government does!  A lot more.  And I will do what I think is best for them.  I will put my infant in a car seat, and when I think they are old enough and big enough I will let them use a seat belt.  Do all parents do what is best for their children?  No.  Does that make it okay for the government to make intrusive laws dictating what parents have to do?  No!  Even if research proved that children in car seats and booster seats were safer in accidents (which hasn’t happened) it still would not be right.  Individuals are better at making choices for themselves in their circumstances than the government is at making blanket mandates.


So, when we decided to have a third child, we had to buy a new car.  We had to make sure it was wide enough to fit three car seats, which means it’s bigger overall, and has much lower gas mileage.  It is so painful to fill up the car (at over $4 a gallon) and calculate my mpg to be about half of what I used to get.  For no reason other than the fact that some bureaucrat believed some car seat lobbyist who said “for the safety of our children” we need to make laws requiring every child use car seats and booster seats.


There are also babysitting laws.  As far as I can tell, Maryland and Illinois are the only states that have minimum babysitting age laws.  The Illinois law reads:

“Any minor under the age of 14 years whose parent or other person responsible for the minor’s welfare leaves the minor without supervision for an unreasonable period of time without regard for the mental or physical health, safety or welfare of that minor.”

If any child this age is left alone, the parent is guilty of child abuse under Illinois law.  Well, that’s interesting.  I guess that means I can’t hire a 13-year-old to watch my kids.  Well, why not?  Let’s say I know two teenagers; one is a 14-year-old only child, the other is a 13-year-old with five younger siblings.  Am I in a better position to decide who is better qualified to watch my children than, once again, nameless, faceless government bureaucrats who don’t know anything about me and my life?  Yes, I am.  We live in a free country, and I should be able to choose who is qualified to watch my children or when they are old enough to take care of themselves and for how long.


And what kind of law is that?!  I’ll be guilty of child abuse if I leave my child for an unreasonable amount of time.  Who decides what ‘unreasonable’ means?  I’ll bet it’s not me, the person who knows my children better than anyone else in the world.  If it ever becomes an issue, I bet it will be some random social worker who doesn’t know my children at all, but maybe has a degree in Child Developement.  And, ‘without regard for the mental or physical health, safety or welfare’.  I will never leave my children without regard for their health and safety, under any circumstances, ever.  So, what does that mean?  That any of the choices I could make for my children will automatically be legal, because I will always make them with regard to their health and safety?  Yeah, I bet not.  Which is why these laws shouldn’t exist in the first place!  You can’t legislate good parenting.  Bad parents will be bad parents, and good parents will be good parents.  People like me, with regard for the law, will find themselves with undue burdens and stresses for fear of loosing their children, when they have no intention of ever doing anything to harm their children, but somehow find themselves guilty of leaving their children without ‘regard for their mental welfare’.  Because you can’t define stuff like that!


I have to give a shout out to gun control, even though I’ve covered it extensively in other posts.  I live in Chicago, which has some of the strictest gun laws in the nation.  Nothing about them is consistent.  Chicago now requires a five hour training course (which costs money, of course) before they will let you have a handgun permit.  (Which is different from the FOID card and the actual gun registration, which also cost money.)  Now, I can not find the quote, but the reason given for requiring the five hour training was to make sure that people who owned guns could use them responsibly.  Makes sense, right?  Mayor Daley actually said that people who use guns, like military personnel, receive training before using guns, so it’s reasonable for citizens to be required similar training.  BUT, would military training, perhaps, count?  No.  My husband, a former Marine, received extensive training.  On multiple guns.  Much, much more than five hours.  And probably much better training than that provided at the random Chicago approved gun training ranges.  We could easily provide Chicago with documentation of this training, but it wouldn’t be accepted.  There is also the fact that their approved training courses require range time with specified weapons.  Handguns.  Well, the gun we own is a shotgun, so wouldn’t it make sense if the range training, (which is for our safety, to make sure we know how to use the weapons before we’re permitted to own them) took place with our gun?  No, the training has to be with a handgun.  If the range time was done with a shotgun, it wouldn’t be approved and we wouldn’t get our Chicago gun-owners permit.  Should I ever bring up the fact that the gun can’t leave my house?  Literally; it’s illegal for me to take my gun into my garage or front porch.  You know, since most muggings take place in my home.  They justify that by saying that the McDonald vs. Chicago ruling stated the right to a gun was in order to protect your home.  But, you are legally not allowed to use your gun in order to protect your property, you can only use it to protect your or your loved ones lives.  If I shoot someone trying to destroy my home, I go to jail.  But, I can’t take my gun with me to places where my life is more likely to be in danger.


Why is it so complicated?  It’s a choice I want to make.  I think that owning a gun will make me and my family safer.  I know guns are dangerous, so I will take precautions I think are reasonable to make sure we’re safe.  My owning a gun doesn’t cost taxpayers money.  It doesn’t make my neighbor’s house less valuable.  It doesn’t effect anyone in any way.  Just me and my family.  But I’m not allowed to choose for myself what to purchase and how to protect myself.


About whyimconservative

I'm a stay-at-home, homeschooling mom with a Biochemistry degree living in Austin. I love my kids, my husband and my country. I want to explain why I'm conservative.

Posted on July 18, 2011, in Freedom and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. KyohakuKeisanki

    Before reading the rest, you should know that I am entirely for safer playground surfacing. I do not believe that concrete can in any way be better than rubberized surfacing (which I prefer to loose fill because kids can actually run on it… though wood chips would be my choice for those who can’t afford rubberized surfacing). Be sure to read the whole thing… at the very end I veer into a somewhat different topic.

    Those who always read every comment probably knew that I was going to post this here. Anyone who hasn’t read this already (and even those who have) should take the time to read it all, as it deals directly with the issue in Mrs. Skenazy’s post.

    I am currently a 17-year-old boy in Tulsa, OK. Understandably, most of my playground experiences were with the new plastic stuff. Back when I was 4 years old I often went to Whiteside Park, which had a mix of fiberglass and painted wood. I remember a boy named Joe who used to be there many times… he could swing really high on the swings which were still the old chain kind (albeit with a plastic/rubber seat; and they were only 8 or 10 feet tall). AFAIK they still have the same equipment today, including the plastic 10-12′ straight and steep slide (not too many slides are straight anymore). Another park, Darlington, had and still has all-metal equipment (though it’s a really small structure). However, LaFortune is the one I want to write about here. As late as 10 years ago they had old wooden equipment (with metal slides and bars). I remember some very high monkey bars (maybe 8 feet?), a swinging bridge (had to be pretty small… maybe 10′ long tops), and 3 slides, each bigger than the other (top one was maybe 10 feet). Back in 2000 or 2001 or so they changed to new plastic equipment. At the time I was very excited since they had changed from a relatively small structure to two large ones. In 2004 I had the opportunity to visit a playground untouched by litigation-fearful government. My great uncle was about to pass away, and the family took a 1-day trip to Aurora, MO, to see him one last time. Apparently not wanting me to see him in his poor condition, my mom found a playground and told my dad to play with me there (I was 10 at the time). That is an experience I will never forget… there were an old-style metal seesaw, a metal merry-go-round, and a very steep metal slide that had to be at least 15-20 feet tall. Being accustomed to plastic all my life, I was at first afraid of the big slide. From what I recall I eventually got on it and loved it… as well as the other stuff there. From what I see on Youtube some places still have this old-school equipment… but they are mostly in other countries (Germany pops up a lot). After reading this article I realize what has truly become of society today. This is not simply a problem with playgrounds, it extends to all aspects of daily life. The American legal system is becoming too constricting to organizations, often doling out six-figure amounts for accidents that deserve more reasonable payments of zero to four figures (case in point: Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants 1994, aka the Coffee Case). Though consumers may think they are getting a better product from the additional regulations, they are the ones who are really paying for them. Thus the governments force unintended mandatory “insurance policies” upon the people… businesses have to pay more and skimp on the product to meet regulations, and the consumer ends up paying for a few people’s troubles in the form of increased prices or inferior products. Change needs to occur in the law schools before it can occur on the playground.

    If you are older (or have relatives living in rural communities), you may remember the slides and swingsets being bigger than they are today. Many probably tell you that “you were smaller, everything was big”. In most cases they’d be right. However, in this one solitary case, I can confidently say that they are wrong and you are right. While I’ve never (as far as I can recall) seen a 12-16′ swingset, there are [hard-to-find] pictures that prove that they existed. As for the slides, just read my post. Despite the extreme difficulty in finding pictures, I am absolutely certain that they existed (and still do, though straight slides of all kinds over 8 feet are a dying species).

    One particular piece of playground equipment that intrigues me due to its unique history is the Giant Stride. Unlike most playground equipment, these were mostly removed in the 1950s, long before the Age of Litigation began circa 1984 (date chosen on purpose). Google “980 playground equipment” and read the comments on the blog to see more about this intriguing piece of equipment… sure it was probably the most dangerous piece, but it was also the most popular in places that had it. Supposedly Sunrise Park in Paris, Illinois, still has a couple (unless they were removed after the 2008 ruling that any park with one automatically loses any lawsuit related to playground injuries, regardless of the scope of the injury and regardless of what equipment actually caused the injury)

    Here’s a link (remove spaces from link): http : // www . parisillinois . org / index . php ? option=com_content&view=article&id=128&Itemid=148

    If they’re still there, anyone care to go and take a video for Youtube?

    Also, just something I’m curious about. After reading many comments on blogs, I get the feeling that kids back then were more resilient than kids today. Kids back then could fall four feet without it hurting much, and eight feet without getting more than a scraped knee, maybe a sprained wrist at the worst (and often these high falls of 10′ or so were from the aforementioned Giant Strides). Kids in the old days used to jump from 10-foot barn roofs for fun, and one particular comment on another blog described kids purposely jumping down 20-30 feet to slightly inclined ground and getting little more than a sprained ankle. I don’t know how they did it… there wasn’t a secretly required Parkour class in elementary schools back then, was there?

    One example of the last paragraph can be found in these pictures (the sand is supposedly a few inches deep at most… definitely not enough to pass today’s standards for that kind of jump):

    http : // a5 . sphotos . ak . fbcdn . net / hphotos-ak-snc1/4583_85593368861_639953861_2007092_8324144_n . jpg

    http : // a7 . sphotos . ak . fbcdn . net / hphotos-ak-ash1/19355_1333485145994_1497022124_921218_6270406_n . jpg

    http : // a4 . sphotos . ak . fbcdn . net / photos-ak-snc1/v2588/2/18/710507810/n710507810_1954871_5517785 . jpg

    Pictures from “I played at Dennis the Menace Park and lived!” group, remove spaces from links.

    The current Dennis the Menace Playground appears to be a very toned-down version of the old one. I wouldn’t quite say that it’s now only a super-large cookie-cutter playground (which wouldn’t really be the worst thing in the world… most places are not as big as that), but it’s definitely nothing like it was. If someone [rich] were to combine the new and old elements into one park, I’m sure the resulting park would become very popular with kids from around the nation (USA that is). Only thing to worry about would be the lawsuits… and maybe local building codes, though one could conceivably build one in a small town that doesn’t have such stringent regulations.

    Part of the reason the Dennis the Menace Playground was so famous was 1. Its creator was well-known, 2. It was HUGE (one of the biggest playgrounds in the nation, still is pretty big; Hank probably created it as a place that even a super-active kid like Dennis [both the real one and the fictional one] would like), and 3. The likely reason that it maintained its fame through the years is that it was not touched by litigation-fearful people until much later than most playgrounds (the Helicopter, essentially a safer version of the Giant Stride in that both are basically large merry-go-rounds that are high off the ground, was the first thing to go in 1988). One final thought: Watch for some truly innovative (or possibly even retro-throwback) designs in the future. Most things go in cycles (it is simply human nature for people to always be dissatisfied about something… and people tend to get in a hurry and over-correct), and the current downtrend has been particularly vicious (kids are staying inside due to “stranger danger” [stranger abductions are actually lower per capita than they were in the 70s and staying inside with a friend’s parents is statistically MUCH more likely {depending on the math used it could be millions of times more likely} to result in sexual molestation than going outside is since most molesters go after someone they know, also kids are much more likely to be killed in a car accident than abducted], playgrounds are being downsized and boring-ized for the sake of “safety” [in actuality the car ride to the playground is much more dangerous than even the oft-cited playgrounds of the 1920’s… the walk to the playground is a different story though 😉 ] and coincidentally [or not], childhood obesity is at its highest since records began… the last point may become the impetus for an upswing). Among those wanting to start the uptrend is Lenore Skenazy, called “America’s Worst Mom” by the paranoia-mongering media (both the conservative FOX and the liberal MSNBC applied that title to her). IMO it is just a matter of time until somebody rich en0ugh to call lawsuit settlements “pocket change” connects the dots (parenting change + playground change = weight change) and starts to actually do something about it. The kids of today will become the adults of tomorrow… and the kinds of adults these kids will become would likely support a very dramatic upswing if they would only hear from someone who could tell them that their kids don’t have to be like they were. Someone like Lenore Skenazy.

    The preceding monologue was copied from a couple of posts I wrote for a comment on the Playgroundology blog (though I have posted an outdated version of that on many blogs, including this one).

    Much of the discussion on another comments thread on this site seems to have shifted to whether playground equipment suitable for teenagers and adults should be built. Looking at pictures from the past (the previously mentioned Dennis the Menace Park FB group), I get the impression that all ages from around 4 to 13 were frequently seen at the non-kiddie areas of DTMP (current playgrounds mainly cater to ages 3-9). Older teenagers were rarely seen there (in fact, the only pictures in that group where the person is unquestionably 14-22 years of age were taken in the last decade… then again, picture quality was not that great back then, so the facial features of kids in the background cannot be identified well; plus it is usually parents of younger children who take pictures at playgrounds [outside of the recent ones which were for “retro appeal”], pretty much ruling out a teen sighting in the foreground). Having said that, I must respond to the question of playground equipment that is meant for teens with an emphatic YES. The line of reasoning is such: Current playground equipment, designed for kids ages 5-12, sees ages 3-9 instead (and an occasional 10-year-old, rarely 11 or older unless they have younger siblings or the park is older [“older” usually means pre-1984]). Design something with ages 11-17 in mind, and you will likely see ages 8-13 frequenting it. I do agree with the point that ages 15 and older will never be nearly as commonly seen as 12 and younger, but why exactly do they have to be? Right now most newer playgrounds are becoming “uncool” or “boring” even with 10-year-olds. The point is to make a playground that truly is for older kids (6+) and not the “5-12 in name only” ones we see so much today… and right now it seems the only way to do that is to tell the architects to design for ages 11-17. So, when will the next Hank Ketcham come up to the plate and dare to swing for the fences? We are sick and tired of base hits… it’s been way too long since we’ve seen a real home run.

    So, what happens when we “dangerize” childhood? “435.15 (3) No diving board or platform more than one meter above the pool or water level shall be permitted for general public use in any swimming pool.”

    Source: Massachusetts State Law (http : // www . mass . gov / Eeohhs2 / docs / dph / regs / 105cmr435 . pdf)

    It is extremely likely that safety was a major factor in the creation of this law. Let’s break down the reasoning behind this law. Roughly 1,000 spinal cord injuries occur due to diving every year. About 3/4 of these involve natural bodies of water. This leaves about 250 per year involving swimming pools. Only 1/10 of swimming pool diving accidents occur from a diving board. Of these 25 or so per year (tiny number… you are more likely to be struck by lightning), only ONE in the past 100 years has occurred in a public pool… and in all irony, this one occurred during a closed practice, so restricting public use would not have affected it one bit. Freak accidents will occur no matter what height the board is, and even a belly flop from the highest operating diving boards/platforms (10 meters above the surface of the water… only four truly open to the public exist in the United States [two more are restricted to membership, which in turn is restricted to residence in particular suburban towns], and zero in the UK… after London 2012 this MAY change to one though based on an article about the facility), though extremely painful, is unlikely to cause permanent damage if the pool has a vigilant lifeguard.

    In conclusion, I am not sure what the legislature of Massachusetts was thinking when they made that law, for when you take major action in an attempt to reduce an already small number (especially when it’s ZERO), you are playing with fire (or fat, as the collective removal of recess from about half of all American public schools will attest to).

    Sources (remove spaces):

    http : // www . sw . org / trauma-center / diving-safety
    http : // www . divingboardsafety . net / MythBusters . pdf
    http : // www . oocities . org / woras . geo / LastWord . htm

  2. i’d like to be able to own c4 and rig them up to my doors at night, so that any one that wants to break into my house gets blow up. I’ll only rig up enough so that it’ll have a kill radius of 5ft.
    I should be able to do that right?

    • I think you should be able to protect your property. The government has ruled that property rights do not exceed another’s right to life, but you should be allowed to incapacitate someone so they can be arrested.

  3. Agreed. Life > Property.

    and God
    agree on this.

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