The Michigan Daily
Vol. XCV, No. 19-S
95 Years of Editorial Freedom
Managed and Edited by Students at
The University of Michigan
Editorials represent a majority opinion of the
Daily Editorial Board
Friday, June 14, 1985
Safety-nazis invade my car
nim stay. ,in-my -car.,y41o:s time.w
By Richard Campbell
An odd thing happened when I was
driving home a few months ago.
I used to like driving home. For me,
home is just an hour's drive on the'
freeway, so I usually make the trip
every couple of weeks. When the sun
is shining in a clear blue sky and the
radio's playing loud, taking the car
out for a ride is just about as much fun
as you can have and not get arrested.
But my last trip was different. Just
before I got out of town, while stopped
at a red light, a tired man with boyish
looks opened the passenger side door
and got in the car. He looked vaguely
him stay in my car. By this time we
were on the freeway and I couldn't
very well kick him out.
"Oh," he smirked, "You believe in
freedom. That's a pretty outmoded
concent_ isn't it?"
"But," he said, changing tactics,
"not only does this law save lives,
which we all agree is good, it will also
likely reduce your insurance
I was really angry now. "I believe
in love, though I can't define it. I
believe in human consciousness,j
though people like you try to restrict
it. And I believe that we'll all be better
off if the legislature and the police
stay out of our personal lives."
"Calm down. A law requiring us all!
" The House crumbles
SPEAKING BEFORE a group of Republicans in Bir-
mingham, Alabama last week, the president called the
funding of the Nicaraguan contras "the transcendent
moral issue of our time." Well, Reagan is right about the
moral issue and the timing, it's his morality that's
Reagan has said that he wants to make Nicaragua "cry
uncle" (Sam). He has attacked "left wing" Democratic
leaders who have refused to support the 15,000 guerillas
who arefightingto overthrow the current Sandinista gover-
This week, the House approved a watered down version
of the Senate amendment to help the guerillas, known as
contras. $27 million in humanitarian aid will be distributed
to the contras but can not be dispensed by either the CIA or
Department of Defense.
Humanitarian aid simply means that the United States
will support the guerillas by providing them with
necessities such as food and clothing. This frees the con-
tras to spend their resources on weapons.
Both the House and Senate voted against extending the
Boland amendment, which bans intelligence agencies
from helping the rebels. The amendment would be waived
so that these agencies can assist in the distribution of non-
military aid. Last time the CIA had control, they handed
out manuals on how to assassinate and take over gover-
Reagan points to Ortega's recent visit to the Soviet
Union as proof of his communistic loyalties. Ortega needs
help, and with the American embargo, he certainly
couldn't turn to the United States. Other non-communistic
countries have been assisting Ortega and have not suppor-
ted U.S. policy in Nicaragua.
It is an unfortunate commentary on the Democratically
controlled house that they have reversed their previous
stand on aiding the contras. Their fear of being labeled
"soft on communism" can not be misdirected at the
Nicaraguan people. Instead, Congress must stand up to
this communistic paranoia before being further coerced
into escalating U.S. involvement in Nicaragua.
Letters to the Daily should be typed,
triple-spaced, and signed by the in-
dividual authors. Names will be withheld
only in unusual circumstances. Letters
may be edited for clarity, grammar, and
"Can I help you?" I said. d enti
"No,"he replied, "You're going my 'It doesn't matter if
way. I thought I'd join you for a I'm being eaten by
"Is there something you want?" a Single lion or a
"No," he said again. "I'm here to rats,
help you." hundred the
Well, he didn't appear dangerous. effect is the same.'
Quite the opposite, he looked like
everybody's younger brother, har-
mless and ineffectual. I felt like I
must have met him somewhere and
that before long his name would come to wear seat belts is a perfectly accep-
back to me. table intrusion into a person's life. It's
After a few moments he said, "I see asmallaffairthatwilldomoregood
that you're not wearing your seat belt. than harm."
It was true. I hadn't buckled up., "There is no invasion of civil liber-
"You know," he continued, "It's ties that is acceptable or even con-
really a good idea to buckle your seat scionable. And there is indeed a great
belt when you drive." He then recited deal of harm that can be done by it."
some statistics about how much more
likely you are to survive an accident if The man sounded confused. "What
you're wearing a seat belt. possible harm can come from a law
But I wasn't in the mood for small that saves lives?"
talk about my personal safety. If I
didn't buckle up that was my "Not only do such laws encourage
problem, not his. complacency among the people, but it
"Have you heard that they've encourages that state to intervene
passed a state law requiring you to ever farther into our lives."
wear seatbelts?" he added.
I was shocked. "You're kidding! At this point the man laughed. "You
They passed that stupid law?" can't be serious. It's not even much of
"It's a great law," he retorted. a law. It's just a ticket for the first of-
"You know how many peoples' lives fense."
are going to be saved each year
because of thislaw? Don't you care I wasn't persuaded. "We'd be better
about those lives?" off if every individual made up their
"I care a great deal about those own mind about what they are going
lives," I answered, "Much more than to do to protect their personal safety
you imagine. And apparently more in the privacy of their own cars. This
than you do. I don't care merely if isn't a question of doing harm to
they're alive or not; I care that they others-the seat belt law hurts only
should be as free as possible while those that wish to exercise their own
they are alive." I was sorry I had let free will."
"Since when was the state ever in-
vited to help me lower the rates I pay
for automobile insurance?" I coun-
tered, "And even though we might
agree that saving lives is a good thing,
where does the state draw the line
between saving lives and encroaching
on individual freedoms? If the
legislature passed a law requiring us
to remain in bed 24 hours a day we'd
save millions of lives and really lower
insurance, transportation, and
"Let's not be ridiculous. Don't
forget that it's the majority of the
population that backs the law. How
can you continue to suggest that civil
liberties are threatened when so
many support the measure?"
I could see that I wasn't making
myself clear. "Look. It doesn't matter
if I'm being eatei by a single lion or a
hundred rats, the effect is the same.
And it doesn't matter if one dictator or
a mob of safety-nazis impose their
will on others-it's wrong." But I
knew these words would have no im-
pact on my uninvited guest.
We didn't say much to each other
for the rest of the trip. After our brief
but earnest exchange, we pretty much
knew where we both stood. He got out
once we reached my hometown.
Now, even though I haven't seen
him in a long time, I can still feel him
beside me whenever I'm driving,
always pestering me about wearing
my seat belt.
When I drive home on weekends, I
am no longer supposed to make any
decision about wearing my seat-belt.
Sometimes I do, but more often I
don't.iAnd now, thetrip is not the
carefree drive it used to be; because I
know that whenever he wants to, the
tired man with the boyish looks has
the power to get in my car and tell me
what to do.
Campbell is a former Daily
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