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Posts Tagged ‘choice’

I was surfing the web aimlessly when I came across this sad news:

Swedish mountaineer and professional skier Fredrik Ericsson died Friday while trying to summit K2 in Pakistan, his friend David Schipper told CNN in a telephone interview.

The incident occurred between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. as Ericsson was attempting to become the first man to ski from the summit to base camp, said Schipper, who said he learned of the accident on the world’s second-tallest peak in a satellite call from fellow climber Fabrizio Zangrilli.

[…]

Ericsson, along with his climbing partners Trey Cook and Gerlinde Kaltenbrunner, had begun the summit push between 1 a.m. and 1:30 a.m. in low-visibility weather.

After several hours of climbing, they approached the bottom of the bottleneck. At this point, Cook returned to Camp 4, leaving Kaltenbrunner and Ericsson to continue their ascent.

As Ericsson was attempting to fix ropes to the snow and ice along the route he “lost his purchase and was unable to arrest his fall,” Schipper said.

Ericsson’s body, resting at about 7,000 meters, will remain where it fell, Schipper said on Ericsson’s website.

“His parents have requested it remain in the mountains he loved,” he wrote. “Retrieval would be exceptionally dangerous.”

Such incidents are of course not uncommon — many climbers die similarly each year.  The comment thread to this news report was also fairly predictable. One user wrote: I never understood poeple that would do a suicidal activity then call it sport! Another was full of scathing sarcasm: At least he died for a cause. Oh thats right he didn’t!

But what really caught my eye was one particular comment that I post below. It was in response to the derisive “Oh that’s right he didn’t” comment, and it is the reason why I am writing this post. It expresses exactly what I feel about such activities and says all that’s needs to be said to those who don’t get it.

“He didn’t even die for a cause”…

Yes he did; he died doing what he loved. He died pushing himself to his personal limits. He was in better shape than all of you combined. He didn’t rant on web sites, he was living life to the fullest for… (God forbid), HIMSELF. How many of you will die for a “cause”?

Ericsson isn’t a martyr. He isn’t a hero. He is just a man who went ahead and pursued his particular passion. How would the world look like if everyone else did the same?

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I have written enough in the past about Canada’s (usually successful) attempts to muzzle free speech and monitor thought crimes and enforce some kind of bizarre right to not get your feelings hurt.

But this latest proposed law takes policing your head to an entirely different level. I understand that the proposal has been spurred by Natasha Richardson’s tragic death, but that’s what makes it all the more scary; that so many people’s natural reaction to a tragedy is to clamor for more government regulation.

Considering the fact that ski helmets are fairly useless at speeds higher than 20 mph (an impact leads to a fatal collision of the brain with the inside of the skull, something no helmet can prevent), I wonder if they will next make a rule that declares Newton’s laws of motion illegal.

(Also read: On motorcycle helmet laws and freedom)

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Good for them.

“If I don’t want to pray, I don’t go to church. If you don’t want to smoke, don’t come in here.”

(Hat Tip: The Agitator)

Also read: San Francisco may tighten smoking ban

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A fascinating account of how a district attorney was forced to prosecute a case even though he felt the defendant was innocent. Compelled to choose between his conscience and his job, he took an unusual decision. He took the case, but helped the defence win.

(Link via Reason Hit and Run)

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Another post by Cass Sunstein in the libertarian paternalism series.

Meanwhile, I agree with those who do not like the term ‘libertarian paternalism’. Among the serious alternatives I have encountered so far, I think ‘non-coercive paternalism’ fits best.

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A guest-blog at Volokh by Cass Sunstein on libertarian paternalism. Hopefully we will see more writings on the subject.

Unlike some hardcore libertarians, I am sympathetic to the idea of libertarian paternalism, particularly the “one-click” variety that Cass mentions. In any case, as even libertarian opponents of the idea will agree, libertarian paternalism is certainly a huge improvement over the pervasive (and coercive) paternalism that exists today, and will possibly be easier to implement than full-blown libertarianism. Of course, the crucial point in libertarian paternalism is the ease of opt-out; if you make the default too hard to change, you take the libertarian out of the phrase.

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