Thursday, November 04, 2004

THIS IS WHAT I HAVE PARENTS FOR

The Ontario legislature MUST have something better to do. First it was a ban on owning certain property (pit bulls) now the government is denying the citizens the ability to choose whether to wear a helmet when biking and in-lining skating. I suppose the people of Ontario really can't be trusted to judge what's in their own self-interest.

Here are some choice quotations from our parliamentarians:

"At its core, I think this bill is really about creating a culture of safety in this province."
- Liberal MPP, John Milloy, who sponsored the private members bill.

Culture of safety? What about a culture where the state micromanages our lives? It's not just that this is a restriction on liberty, although it is. I'm not a totally anti-government libertarian even though this Liberal government seems to be turning me into one lately. I like the government, I think the government can do great things for the people. THIS IS NOT ONE OF THEM. Why are they wasting time and resources on stuff like this?
"There isn't a day goes by that I don't see someone on the streets of Toronto, an adult, with no helmet on their head, and I want to get out of my car or off the sidewalk and I want to grab them and I want to shake them." - Michael Prue, NDP MPP

Well, this bill does just that, writ large. The state is getting up and shaking all of Ontario. I love that MPP Prue frames it in terms of a physical attack. That's great, it really drives the point home.

The article's description of the debate in the legislature:
Milloy's bill won unanimous approval on second reading from the members of the legislature, many of whom used their debate time today to tell touching stories about friends or family members whose lives were cut short by head injuries.

Touching personal stories. Nice.

I don't want to diminish the very real pain I'm sure these people have experienced but the legislature of Ontario is not a support group. Democracy relies on participatory debate in the public sphere. That debate relies on citizens and legislators coming to the table with detached, substantive arguments that appeal to reason and the public interest. When we start conducting our debates with appeals to personal sentimentality reasoned impersonal debate is no longer possible. Its then the first step to the breakdown of the general will.

This bill and the debate surrounding it is wrong on so many levels.

Posted by Matthew @ 4:41 PM