Liberty is an inherently offensive lifestyle. Living in a free society guarantees that each one of us will see our most cherished principles and beliefs questioned and in some cases mocked. That psychic discomfort is the price we pay for basic civic peace. It's worth it. It's a pragmatic principle. Defend everyone else's rights, because if you don't there is no one to defend yours. -- MaxedOutMama

I don't just want gun rights... I want individual liberty, a culture of self-reliance....I want the whole bloody thing. -- Kim du Toit

The most glaring example of the cognitive dissonance on the left is the concept that human beings are inherently good, yet at the same time cannot be trusted with any kind of weapon, unless the magic fairy dust of government authority gets sprinkled upon them.-- Moshe Ben-David

The cult of the left believes that it is engaged in a great apocalyptic battle with corporations and industrialists for the ownership of the unthinking masses. Its acolytes see themselves as the individuals who have been "liberated" to think for themselves. They make choices. You however are just a member of the unthinking masses. You are not really a person, but only respond to the agendas of your corporate overlords. If you eat too much, it's because corporations make you eat. If you kill, it's because corporations encourage you to buy guns. You are not an individual. You are a social problem. -- Sultan Knish

All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war. -- Billy Beck

Thursday, November 10, 2005

The Importance of Risk.

This is arguably copyright infringement, and I really don't care. I'm going to email the author for his permission to post this, but it's often easier to get forgiveness than it is to get permission.

I picked up this month's edition of Hot Rod magazine off the newsstand. I do that from time to time when they have something I find interesting, and I need something to read at lunch. But this month's issue has a very interesting editorial that I can't find on their web site, so I'm going to reproduce it here.

They can sue me, but as far as I'm concerned this is fair-use.
The Importance of Risk

I just re-read my Bonneville story that's printed in this issue. It's about three weeks after I wrote it, and in retrospect it seems more personal than what we usually crank out for event coverage. How could it not be? After all, I was strapped into the race car when I got word there'd been a crash on the course. The car that had barrel-rolled was that of John Beckett, a guy I'd known and worked with for five or six years. He founded the East Coast Timing Association, where I'd raced a few times, and he'd helped with my Bonneville effort in 2004. He was tight with everyone in my race camp. After the course was cleared, I was second in line to make a pass on the Salt. As ECTA timer Joe Timney sat in the push truck with my wife, he got the call that Beckett had died. Keith Turk knew as he strapped me in. I found out five minutes later, sitting on the return road.

I can't claim that John Beckett was a close friend, but he's a guy whose life meant something to me and whose death could easily have been my own. Every Bonneville racer owes him the honor of learning from his incident and improving their own car. I've done that. I've also spent a lot of time considering why I need to run 260 mph in a stupid Camaro that was never meant to go over 110. It's a tough consideration after being so clearly presented with an awful reality, and my answers ring from the passionate to belligerent. In discussing it with Turk, I mentioned that hot rodding is its entirety is non-critical. No one needs speed parts, they just want them. No one has to race. Turk corrected me, pointing out that any hobby can seem frivolous to outsiders, but that it provides a mental exercise and a definition of self that's an important part of our existence. For goal-oriented people, racing keeps us going. It may just be hot rodding, but we are just hot rodders. We really do need it. I need it. John Beckett needed it. Sorry to drudge up the cliché, but Beckett died doing what he loved, and he'd arranged his entire life to be able to race. By all accounts, his family supported that. He helped me realize that, without risk, you are not living at all. Show-car competition and street machining doesn't fill that need for me.

Then there's the belligerence - that anti-society drive that makes us unique as hot rodders and some of us even more cliquish as Bonneville racers. I had resentment when the TV cameras rolled to the crash site. I feel that the mainstream media often encourages a victimized society of cowardice with its muckraking presentation of issues, and automotive niche interests are often the targets. There seems to be a prevalent notion that government must protect us from our own choices, and that's an ideal that I reject. Here's a perfect analogy from a story I once got from Chris Alston. He was on the NHRA safety committee, and there was a proposal for a new rule that he deemed excessive. Upon hearing his objection, the answer was "if it saves one life, it's worth it." So, at the next meeting, he proposed that all national-event racing venues should be cloaked in acres of mosquito netting. Naturally, that was deemed absurd. "But," said Chris, "lots of people are deathly allergic to bees. If the netting saves one life, wouldn't it be worth it?" Clearly not. So if one guy dies racing, should the rest of us stop? Since Sonny Bono died skiing into a tree, should we stop all skiing or should we cut down all the trees? No. The passions of the many outweigh the losses of a few.

Automotive competition brings inherent risk. Most racers accept responsibility rather than shirk it. I feel the onus is on the racer to ensure safety measures beyond those required, that the rule book cannot list every possible contingency, and that you are obligated to listen to the safety inspectors. Beyond that, I always presume that, as soon as you're behind the wheel, there's an implicit agreement that you're accountable for any outcome. John Beckett is not the first guy I've known who's been lost to racing, and he won't be the last. I understand how these horrible events stop some from racing. But I've decided to choose risk over fear. I'll keep racing. I'll stick with extreme four-wheeling. I'll always drive junk with no airbags or ABS, and I'll still work in the shop while wearing sandals.

And when I'm gone, you can call me foolish but hopefully not boring. I will have lived. - David Freiburger, Hot Rod, December 2005, pg. 12.
Now, replace racing with gun ownership. How many times have we heard "If it saves just one life"? And replace this line:
The passions of the many outweigh the losses of a few.
with this one:
The rights of all outweigh the passion of the few.
Because whatever else the gun control fight is, it is the passion of a few to make this a risk-free world, and that's an ideal I reject.

And I believe too, that "the mainstream media often encourages a victimized society of cowardice with its muckraking presentation of issues," and gun owners are often its target.

Mr. Freiburger writes more broadly than I think he realized, but he did it well.

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