CNN brings us the following sad news:
A bareheaded motorcyclist participating in a ride to protest mandatory helmet laws was killed when he was thrown over the handlebars in Onondaga, New York...
State police say evidence at the scene plus information from the attending medical expert indicated Contos would have survived had he been wearing a helmet as required by state law.
Asked about the apparent irony of Contos' death, the statewide president of ABATE, Thomas Alton, said, "We are riding at an increased risk and accept that. ... This individual was a seasoned rider, not a newbie. He made an adult decision. A full decision to ride in the manner he rode in."
Philip Contos' untimely demise on Independence Day gives Americans the perfect opportunity to ponder what exactly it means to be free. He died doing what he loved, in the way in which he loved doing it, and in a manner that harmed nobody else.
So why is it anybody else's business?
Now, you might say Contos was a fool. Perhaps so. So what? What right have you, or anyone else, to tell him he can't ride his own bike sans helmet?
But his behavior was unhealthy! Obviously true. So is smoking, drinking milkshakes, and eating Big Macs. The first is nearly banned, the second frowned-upon, and the third, well, San Francisco and New York have tried to limit McDonalds' marketing and even dictate the ingredients they use. What right has government to do any of that?
Let's go further. Various research has shown that drinking a daily glass of wine confers all manner of health benefits. Assuming the studies aren't flawed, and we have no reason to believe they are, drinking a little vino would save all kinds of money. Yet most Americans would rightly quail at the idea of forcing everyone to drink a daily glass, or even to eat a daily apple.
Mr. Contos may not have borne a gun or slain an enemy. He may not have been the finest example of American manhood in the rest of his life - or perhaps he was; we simply do not know.
But in his death, he died to defend the rights of Americans to live in their own way, free of oppression and governmental tyranny, just as surely as did the freezing soldiers at Valley Forge. For a government that can dictate what you may or may not do to your own head, can and will dictate every other aspect of how you live your life - and goodness knows, it's trying to.