For some unknown and probably irrational reason I have been a Pittsburgh Steelers fan since I was a boy. The Steelers seem to epitomize toughness and consistency when it comes to professional football. Even though I grew up in Arkansas, I have always watched them with some interest. That’s one reason it crushed me to hear about Ben Roethlisberger’s motorcycle wreck on June 12th—a wreck that left him in seven hours of surgery. My heart and prayers go out to him and his family, as well as to the poor lady driving the car that collided with him.
What sickened me even more, however, was that within hours, the Statist news media had “experts” exploiting the accident for political leverage. One woman interviewed on ABC News, I didn’t catch her name and don’t care to, tried to make helmet laws a public health issue. She argued that since more than half of motorcycle riders don’t have private health insurance, then not having helmet laws was a matter of tax dollars. Well, as long as health insurance is a public matter, she has a point. As long as people rely on the state to take care of their persons, then the state should logically call the shots when it comes to prevention. But do we have to settle for this?
I have a better remedy: get rid of public health insurance as well. If we want freedom, then fight for it consistently. People who ride motorcycles—I used to—will tell you that the feeling of freedom it gives is unmatched. But if you enjoy that feeling on the one hand, and then rely on socialist health care schemes on the other, then you are living an illusion. Of course, nothing is more American than open road and Harley Davidson, except for the illusion of freedom.
The whole tactic of using such a tragedy as a political launch pad relates exactly to what Ann Coulter has said in her latest book Godless. She recognized the leftist doctrine of infallibility: they use untouchable suffering people to promote their agendas in the public square, and conservatives can’t answer without looking heartless. But Coulter only has half the story. It is not a Leftist tactic; it’s a Statist tactic. The Right does the same thing. How do you think the Patriot Act got pushed through Congress in a week? It has always been—from ancient times on—the method of the State to use tragedy and calamity to its advantage. In order to control a group you need them to think in unison, and the easiest way to get a group to think (or not think) in unison is to use fear or guilt. When we fall for such shameless reactionism, we sell our freedom for the Statist deception of safety and peace.
The Roethlisberger incident is just the latest case, and within hours the media had rounded up enough mouths to make a political segment of it. Let’s hope they don’t convince the young Super Bowl champion to use his stardom as a platform for petitioning Congress for more Statist coercion and tyranny. Like so many stars do these days. One wonders why they don’t start private foundations with their own money.
It’s funny that the Statists on both sides will send young men into their wars claiming, “Freedom has a price,” but refuse to see that price when it’s paid in the private world. What happened to Big Ben is truly horrible; but it is the true price of freedom. Let the State pay that price for you, and you lose the freedom as well. Good luck and keep fighting, Ben.