Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Warning: Non-PC Opinions Below

I know that what I am about to say is not what I am supposed to say. I know it's not politically correct. But I just cannot have any sympathy whatsoever for the Pittsburgh Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger after injuring himself in a motorcycle accident while not wearing a helmet.

My non-PC, uncharacteristically harsh opinion ? He got what he deserved. If he's so stupid that he thinks he won't get hurt while riding a motorcycle without wearing a helmet, he deserved to get hurt. He CHOSE to be irresponsible and reckless. Therefore, he CHOSE the consequences of his actions.

He's fortunate he only came out with multiple jaw fractures, a broken nose, a loss of two teeth and various other cuts and bruises. I'm sure the 7 hours he spent in surgery went well. But most, if not all, of these injuries could have been prevented if he wasn't so arrogant as to refuse to wear a helmet.

I know it's not right of me, as a volunteer EMT, to think this way. But I can't help it.

In the healthcare industry, motorcycle riders are commonly referred to as "Organ Donors". A nurse on one of my ride-alongs referred to a motorcycle as a "donorcycle". And I heard a rumor, though uncorroborated, that a patient waiting for a kidney donation specifically registered in Ohio, which did not have motorcycle helmet laws. Much better chance of finding a donor.

There are many who think that wearing a helmet, seat belt, and other protective equipment should be left to the choice of the driver. If someone chooses not to do these things, then nobody should interfere. I disagree with this. With all the educational campaigns out there, and with some innate common sense, it is simple arrogance and stupidity not to follow these rules. People are dumb. They need to be protected against themselves.

"But I'm only endangering myself," some may say. Really ?

What happens if you crash into someone else on the road ? It's not just you, by yourself, on an isolated highway somewhere in the middle of the desert. There are other people around, who are stupid themselves. No matter how "safe" you are as a driver, they may not be. It's always a possibility you could hurt someone else, or they could hurt you. There is no avoiding this at times.

What about the general public ? When you're incapacitated, who pays for your medical bills ? Who pays for Medicaid ? Who pays for survival benefits for your family if you die ? The money doesn't drop down from the sky. If you do survive having your head smashed against the pavement, others have to fund your long-term care if you're not able to do it yourself.

And finally, none of us are islands. We all have friends and family members who care about us. Just imagine how those people would feel if they saw your brains splattered on the pavement because you refused to wear a helmet. And then had to attend your funeral and bury your body.

It's not just you that you're hurting.

Helmets do not cause neck damage, and are effective at preventing head injuries, even when one is driving fast. See here for a full quiz that nicely debunks a good portion of the myths surrounding their use.

And of course, no gear will protect you if you are flattened by a semi truck, or thrown head-first into a concrete wall going 100mph. There are some situations where the best drivers, with the most protection, are still hurt. But wearing a helmet, along with leathers, are the best ways to reduce and minimize the effects of a crash.

In the end, there is no excuse for not taking proper safety precautions for activities that inherently carry some danger, such as riding a motorcycle. If someone chooses not to wear a helmet (or seat belt), then that person chooses the consequences of that action.

Ben Roethlisberger made that choice when he drove off on his motorcycle with his head bare. He chose to land himself in the hospital, with a broken face and a long recovery ahead. As an adult, he made this choice of his own free will. And now he pays the price for it.

I feel no compassion for him. None.

Maybe this will be the wake-up call he needs to show he is not invincible. Maybe this will inspire him to be responsible. Maybe this will motivate him to put a helmet on that thick head of his next time he rides his motorcycle.

But I'm not holding my breath.


Blogger AJ said...

Oh Slink... we could get into this for days. Saying Ben deserved to be hurt simply because he was not wearing a helmet is a bit much in my opinion. I don't believe I deserve to be in an accident because I'm not wearing a helmet or seat belt.

As you say it was "his choice". I'm a big fan of choice... whether it has to do with abortion or helmet laws. According to what you said in your comments, should I deserve to get pregnant if I don't believe in abortion?

As you illustrated, it was Ben's choice. Yes, it was an unfortunate accident... but, it was his CHOICE.

June 14, 2006 at 6:01:00 PM PDT  
Blogger Julie said...

If you choose to go without a helmet and you DO get into an accident where you are injured, you got what you deserved. I don't think the Slinkster was saying he deserved to be in the accident - I think she was saying that he deserved the injuries he received beause of his choice.

Slink - you left out one group of people. What about the other vehicles involved in those accidents. Let's say a motorcycle drives into the back of a stopped car. Obviously, it's the motorcycle's fault. However if that cyclist wasn't wearing a helmet, the driving and any passengers will have witness a (most likely) horrific and gory accident that will probably stay with them for the rest of their lives.

Unfortunately there are a lot of idiots in the world and sometimes we need to protect them from themselves.

June 22, 2006 at 6:19:00 AM PDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to disagree with julie...the whole point of personal freedom is to not have the government or any other entity telling you how to live your life. In reality, the only person Ben was putting in danger by not wearing a helmet was himself. If he gets in an accident, whether or not he wears a helmet won't change the outcome to the other party involved. As AJ said, Ben made a choice, which it was his right to do, just as the consequences now are his to deal with.

June 24, 2006 at 5:56:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Julie said...

Anon - then who pays for the damage. Yes, this guy has more money than Gd to pay for his injuries but what about the poor schmuck who decides to not wear a helmet and injures himself catastrophically? Guess who gets the burden of the bills. The taxpayers.

Since I'm expected to pay for these asshats, then I expect the government to protect them from themselves.

June 27, 2006 at 1:09:00 PM PDT  

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