The Second Version

24/09/13

No Right to Feel Safe

Yeah, I'm not dead yet. Or maybe I am undead, how can my readers know?

I have read something about the recent dustup in the States with Starbucks and open carry of firearms.While those who turned Starbucks into a gun parading ground were, in my opinion, silly exhibitionists adopting a counterproductive in-your-face tactic (but within their rights), I want to concentrate in fact on those who were incensed at the display of rifles.

Their most common lamentation is that those people carrying rifles violated their "right to feel safe".

Ah, really, a right to feel safe?

I could say that the right to possess and carry arms is enumerated in the Bill of Rights, while the right to feel safe isn't, and that would be enough.

But let's go a bit more in depth. First of all, a feeling cannot be measured objectively. We can maybe measure its relative strength between different people and situations, but it cannot be mapped onto any objective scale.

Just to make a few examples, some people feel very unsafe aboard airplanes, while most don't - and statistics tell us airplanes are a safe method of transportation.

Others feel unsafe in the presence of animals that are innocuous or present only a minimal objective threat.

Almost nobody feels unsafe while riding a car, yet vehicle accidents are a significant cause of death and injury all over the world.

A person may feel unsafe in the vicinity of a group of inner city black teenagers - and considering crime distribution among the various demographics, that would be a justified fear. Yet, such a person would easily be labelled as a racist xenophobe.

A feeling is not objective and it cannot be used as basis for legislation or regulation.

Another important point is, how actually safe are we in our everyday life?
A lot of people seem not to realize that shit happens no matter what. You may be working at a food kiosk, when a bus out of control plunges down a cliff and crushes you to death - together with dozens of unlucky passengers. Far-fetched scenario? Well, it did happen near Bogor, Indonesia. And in 1990, in Casalecchio di Reno, Italy, a training fighter jet out of control slammed into a middle school; 12 students were killed and 72 more suffered permanent lesions.

These may be extreme scenarios, but the fact is that in the modern world we constantly put our life in the hands of other people. Motorists, pilots, maintenance technicians, machine and plant operators and many more... just a slip of their attention can be enough to cause mayhem.

And even when no other people are involved... well, check the data for accidents and unintentional injuries in the USA and tell me how safe you actually are.

The whole "right to feel safe" is a nonsense, another deformed child of the postmodern world where reality is regarded as and inconvenient annoyance to be overcome.

Update: Often, those who in one sentence complain about their right to feel safe being violate, in the next one accuse armed people to be too fearful to go around unarmed. Oh the irony.

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