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Goodbye Jesus

Where Do You Draw The Line On Rights?


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Its come up a couple of times in forums I was reading, people start crying about their freedom being removed when discussions turn to banning anything. The latest one was a discussion about a news article on boxing. The article started with:

"Among the news stories circulating after Manny Pacquiao anaesthetised Ricky Hatton in Las Vegas last weekend were those that paused to ask, yet again, whether boxing deserved any sort of future. It was, after all, the same week that heralded the deaths of fellow pugilists Benjamin Flores, Andras Nagy and Greg Page. All died from brain injuries or associated complications."

This caused a heated debate over peoples right to do dangerous things and societies right to protect people from harm. There was disagreement over just about every aspect of the idea. Should tax payers money be used to repair the damage done by these choices? If boxing was banned where do you draw the line (kickboxing, MMA, all martial arts)?

I don't agree that people should have full rights to do what ever they want. That kind of open ended statement could be used to allow kids to fight, weapons to be used, or heck why not fight to the death? Free choice doesn't make it right, but what exactly are we aiming to stop? Is it solely the fact that boxing kills around a dozen people a year in sanctioned matches, the numerous injuries inflicted or is it solely the intent to inflict physical damage to another human?

When you compare boxing to MMA, its quite interesting to note there has never been a death in a sanctioned MMA fight. Even kick boxing is a lot safer, which while having many injuries has next to no fatalities. The main difference seems to be both shorter fights (average MMA or kickboxing fight will be 3 rounds compared to boxings 10-12 rounds) and the fact that these other combat sports often stop by other means (ref stops, leg kicks, submissions etc). Boxing focuses on head impacts with fighters regularily taking many hundreds of blows to the head in a match.


The second discussion was in regards to smoking. There have been numerous attempts to ban smoking, and once again a politician has started a movement to have this considered. Its a strange one where society have slowly pushed it away with public smoking bans, non-smoking flights, non-smoking work places, ban on smoking adverts, higher taxes and labelling on the cigarettes saying the health risks involved. Its only a minority of people who smoke (and of those a fair few are addicts who want to stop), so theoritically if it went to a vote it would be banned. Once again the cry of "they want to take our freedom" is heard. "Its my life, I should be allowed to do what I want" is often said. But once again its not a case of freedom yes or no, its where exactly do you draw the line? Do you allow cigars? Pot? Opium? Crack pipes? Theres a whole range of possibilities and depending on which country you are from will change what is accepted. Many of the pot crusaders say "if you allow smoking, which is a lot worse that pot, why not legalise pot?", as if two wrongs make a right.


I don't mind people expressing their opinions, and I know there will never be complete agreement on any of these subjects. I just wonder if there is any way to find a logical mid ground that the majority can agree on? Perhaps "ban things that purposely and regularily result in death"? People say "a ban would simply drive it underground, it would get worse", as if we should legalise everything that is underground to make it safer, what about animal fights or drugs? Again it is just a matter of where the line is drawn.


So what do you think? Is there a logical answer that the majority could agree on?

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So what do you think? Is there a logical answer that the majority could agree on?


If there were, I think we'd have hit on it long ago. I take the view that regulations should be done with much fear and trembling, with a heavy bias towards leaving people alone. I think the lawmakers do their level best to be re-elected, and so they try to placate their voter base by passing popular laws, or echoing the values and morals of their constituents. This is why there are still a lot of blue laws on the books, particularly in the south. They are clearly only there because of religion, and are thus illegal (and have been consistently overturned on this basis), yet in some places no one mounts an effective opposition to them.


I believe that if adults make a conscious choice to engage one another in refereed combat, who can tell them "No, we aren't going to allow that because of _____"? If two or more people really want to fight, why should I break it up? Now if one of them doesn't want to fight and is being compelled to out of self-defense, then there is a reason to intervene. People make stupid choices all the time. As long as they make them for themselves, I don't have a problem with that. When those choices influence others that don't want to participate in their foolishness, then lines have to be drawn to protect their rights to not be involved. If someone enjoys loud music, that is fine. But if they want to play it loudly in a public place, or where it disturbs others, then they have crossed the line of the rights of others to live in peace.


As far as smoking, if an establishment wants to have it, so be it. I won't be going there, and neither will many others who can't stand the smell and choking. Then the business owner has to decide if it is worth having smoking or not. The last time I went to a bowling alley in my home town, the air was visible. I never returned, but they obviously had a ton of people there that enjoyed smoking, and they didn't even try to mitigate the smoke. Such things regulate themselves. Savvy business owners realize that smoking is not as popular as it once was, and that many people will stay home if the only other choice is to inhale smoke.


So default to leaving people alone, and only regulate where absolutely necessary to protect the rights of others.

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Surely in saying that there is almost nothing that doesn't effect society in some way. Whether you turn yourself into a statistic and our insurance costs go up, you end up in a public hospital and society foots the bill, or you end up disabled and living on social welfare, just about everything has a ripple effect.

Many people who attempt suicide say "its my life, no one will care if I'm gone", yet someone has to find them, someone has to clean up, someone has to pay for burial, and its still a horrible experience for everyone who knows them.


Boxing and smoking both have a cost to society. Perhaps we should say they must buy 100% medical coverage/life insurance before they can take part? Have to show your insurance certificate to buy cigarettes...

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