News

Contract for helmet foes

"Individualists don't come much more rugged than Ayn Rand. Thinker and writer, founder of the Objectivist philosophy school and matron saint of the libertarian movement, Rand espoused an egocentric worldview that at its essence might be expressed as It's my life - buzz off.For Rand, any common good was mere coincidence amongst enlightened individuals working in their own self-interests; her treatise The Virtue of Selfishness outlines a code for living wherein no person can morally make a claim on the time or resources of another (the question of what should be done with the poor and handicapped, for instance, presupposes that something should be done - to her a specious notion).We have no idea whether Rand ever rode a bicycle. But at Wednesday's public hearing on the proposed bike helmet ordinance - with opponents trotting out an array of libertarian, leave me alone objections - we pictured old Ayn wheeling down Madison Avenue, wind rippling the curls on her helmetless head, nose thumbed toward city hall. For she would certainly have bristled at any helmet law as rank coercion, the state trampling upon the rights of the free individual.At the same time, we found ourselves wondering whether the no-helmet crowd would go the distance with their convictions - or whether they would fall back on other folks' altruism (anathema to Ayn) in time of need. Assuming personal risk sounds grand and noble, until you fall off your bike and bonk your bare noggin on the pavement - then it's someone else who gets stuck mashing the peas and dumping the bedpan.So as an alternative to the helmet ordinance, we've drawn up a new social contract, to indemnify the rest of us against costs and responsibilities associated with any future injury to those who would ride without protective headgear:* * * * *By refusing to wear a bicycle helmet on public roadways, I, the undersigned, do hereby agree to the following:1) In case of incapacity or infirmity caused by accident-related head injury, I agree to not complain, lament, rue, sue, moan, groan, bitch, carp or whine; I knew better, and I acknowledge that my plight is my own damn fault;2) Because I espouse personal self-reliance, in case of injury I agree to forego all assistance, both financial and physical, from others - including but not limited to medical professionals, friends and family members. Seeing no fairness in community-imposed codes of conduct, I abdicate any claim to community-established programs of rehabilitation. If left unable to toilet myself, I agree to live with soiled underwear; if unable to feed myself, I agree to wither away into malnourishment;3) Because I define my existence solely by my capacity for self-determination, in case of accident-related mental incapacity I forfeit any claim of individual worth, and agree to crawl off somewhere and become one with the soil.* * * * *Seems fair enough - if you demand the right to live dangerously, we demand the right to ignore you when it goes wrong. Any takers out there? Any real libertarians?Or do we need that helmet law after all? "

We encourage an open exchange of ideas on this story's topic, but we ask you to follow our guidelines for respecting community standards. Personal attacks, inappropriate language, and off-topic comments may be removed, and comment privileges revoked, per our Terms of Use. Please see our FAQ if you have questions or concerns about using Facebook to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus

Read the latest Green Edition

Browse the print edition page by page, including stories and ads.

Sep 19 edition online now. Browse the archives.