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Question 5: A no on seat belts is a vote for freedom
By Jerry Williams, 10/28/1986
ne's anatomy is draped with constitutional protection" -- appeals court ruling in US vs. Afanador, 1978.
"Courts have clearly established that individuals maintain an expectation of privacy and the right to be free from government intrusion in the integrity of their bodies." -- US vs. Ramsey, 1978. Do these quotations not say it all? Not for the seat-belt zealots who have continually fabricated the truth with a lot of statistics. They are prepared to go to any lengths in the name of public safety. To them, the saving of one life is worth the price of sacrificing our constitutional rights forever. In their eyes, the good of the general public comes before the good of the individual; if there is a problem, legislate it away.
Now before any seat-belt proponents start yelling, understand that my premise is not to discuss the effectiveness of seat belts, but the forced use of them. We may argue whether they save lives, but that is not the question. The question deals with freedom. We in the repeal movement feel this is a flagrant violation of our civil rights.
In a free society, attitudes are not changed by coercion and force. If change is desirable, it must come voluntarily and can be accomplished through education. Our government can recommend and influence, but it cannot use force to bring it about. That is what separates us from totalitarian states.
Thomas Jefferson recognized this when he stated, "I know no safe depository of the ultimate power of society but the people themselves; and if we think them unable to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to remove it from them, but to educate their discretion."
New York state has a mandatory seat-belt law with a $50 fine; police employ roadblocks to check whether people are belted up. If you let one foot in the door, with a less restrictive Massachusetts law, the door will open wider next year and in the years to follow.
To legal authorities who look upon the repeal movement as extreme, we merely respond by calling to their attention that seven districts in the state of Illinois have viewed the seat-belt law as unconstitutional, and several judges around the country have already indicated they agree this is an intrusion into people's rights.
Let us project ourselves to the year 2000. We could easily find ourselves confronted with roadblocks merely to determine the necessity of travel, for as we have already been informed, increased mileage on the roads increases highway fatalities. There will no longer be a need for marked police cruisers for, as we have been told on countless occasions, it is the unmarked police car which is most effective in catching speeders and other law-breakers.
With advancements in technology, there could be random body-fluid testing and even on-the-spot brain scans to determine if the driver is a suitable motorist. Random computerized fingerprinting at the roadside may become commonplace to determine if the unwary driver is a menace to public safety or has any nationwide outstanding warrants.
Where does this lead? Ten years ago, who would have thought of the laws we now accept as commonplace, all in the name of public safety?
There were wise and learned men in our history who perceived of this very problem, men who took painstaking caution to avoid just this situation.
Benjamin Franklin left us with a piece of advice that has never been more pertinent. He advised, "They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." Is there any doubt in anyone's mind what he meant by that?
We are all adults. We buckle up. We don't have to be forced to. A no vote on Question 5 to repeal the seat-belt law is not only a vote for freedom, but is clearly a mandate for increased safety as well, through improved safety equipment as recommended by the US Department of Transportation.
Jerry Williams is host of a talk show on Boston radio station WRKO.