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Set our people (and Darwin) free

  • March 1st, 2010

What a horrible last vision to take to bed from TV One news – bug eyed Bob Harvey demanding new powers to make people obey his orders to stay away from the beach. "What the hell is going on when people are telling [officials] 'we're doing what we like?'".

What's going on Bob is adults exercising their rights as adults, to choose for themselves whether to take a risk that does not harm others. 'We're doing what we like' is exactly what people in free countries can tell pompous twits.  What justification is there for ordering them away? The only life they risk is their own. As adults they're entitled to eat themselves to death, to drink themselves to death, to ride motor bikes, to climb mountains, to refuse to take their medicine or to reject life-saving operations, to sell their houses and gamble away what they should save for their old age.

Why should Bob Harvey be entitled to stop them choosing to look at a rare freak of nature? If nanny does not want ordinary people to  ignore warnings she should stop crying wolf. From long experience most official warnings are likely to be tremulous twittering.

For months there's been a sign on a pathway near my house warning of closure because of 'serious danger' after part of it slumped. The sign was there so long that the feet tramping up the bank and around the sign made their own fresh track on their way to walk perfectly safely across the narrowed section of pathway above the slip.

As long as the tsunami rubberneckers and surfers accept that the rest of us are not obliged to risk our lives or assets rescuing them (as surfers do anyway), I respect their independence and their contempt for the nannyish bosses who now want to rule us all (in our own good of course).

Besides – there will be times when the warnings are justified. We must leave room for Darwinian selection.


  • Harry Young
  • March 2nd, 2010
  • 9:33 am

Agreed. Freedom of choice is also part of the reason that all drugs should be legalised.
To tell me, age 49, I can drink whisky but not take bzp or cannabis is an outrageous impingement on my freedom.
The other main reason is that keeping them illegal also pushes consumers towards gangs and theft. Also, illegal things have an allure to rebellious teens.
(I have to admit P spoils the argument a little, being the one drug apart from alcohol which makes people reckless about hurting others. Alcohol and P should be in the same classification)

(Note) I do not take illegal drugs. The point is that it is wrong not to let me choose, though I choose not to and still would if they were legal.

  • Chuck Bird
  • March 2nd, 2010
  • 1:35 pm

Drugs aside, I agree with you when it comes to adults.  However, it is a very different matter when it comes to children.

  • Jim Maclean
  • March 3rd, 2010
  • 7:26 pm

I was tickled to death by a brief opinion quote in the daily newspaper on this subject to the effect that NZ does not have such a shortage of idiots and morons that the country should take heroic measures to avoid their extinction as an endangered species. Reasonable warnings are enough, coupled with an understanding that adults have a right to chose whether and to what extent those warnings should be heeded.  A necessary qualifier to this license should be a policy of vigorous prosecution of parents or caregivers who allow reckless endangerment of those in their care. Currently we allow all sorts of evil and nasty people to excuse the injuries and death they foist on other people by expressing amazement that their actions caused harm. "I didn't know it was loaded" or "I didn't intend to hurt anyone" (after driving their car at a group and reversing several times over those knocked down). Our societies present attempts to bend over backwards to shoulder the responsiblities that belong to every member of society to keep themselves and those around them safe have resulted in a reduced ability of the individual to do that very thing themselves. The pendulum has swung too far and a little movement back to the centre is quite in order.

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