Steve Olson – April 13, 2007:

When did America become a nation of frightened wimps? When did we cross the line from courage to cowardice? Was it sometime in the 1990s? After the Oklahoma City bombing? After the Columbine shootings? After 911?

When did we decide to allow the police to smash into private homes without knocking and identifying themselves?

When did we decide it was okay to strip search an old lady at the airport because the pin in her hip set off the metal detector?

When did we decide it was okay for policemen in combat boots with German Shepherds to patrol High School hallways?

We’ve justified every one of these injustices by claiming that it was necessary to preserve health and safety. I say bullsh!t. What is the point in being a safe slave?

I think we crossed the line somewhere between 1984 and 1988, around the time we outlawed lawn darts and every mini van in America had a ‘baby-on-board’ sign. While lawn darts and baby on board signs may seem trivial, they were warning signs of a mass shift in American values – a shift away from freedom and liberty as predominant values to health and safety as predominant values. There will be no end to the loss of freedom if we believe being healthy and safe trumps all else.

I believe there was day when most Americans accepted that life was risky. They accepted that bad things can happen to good people. They accepted that risk was an inherent part being free. They didn’t need a new law or government program every time something bad happened.

It is sad to watch our freedom slowly disappear in front of our eyes with so few people taking action.



  1. BubbaRay says:

    Free beer for everyone except #22 (he’d probably be speaking German now if it wasn’t for US). Free shot for the OSHA cowboy !!

    http://www.freebeer.org/blog/

  2. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    #16 – interesting theories – two-income households are an economic reality (notice I didn’t say economic necessity).

    I did notice that, but I forgive you. We all make mistakes.

  3. ECA says:

    1 more thing…

    When did reaising a child, become Raise a child.
    we ARENT raise children to be KIDS,
    we are raiseing kids to be adults…

    Life is LIFE.. The best way to raise a kid, is STILL, on a farm..
    Sex, accidents, ALways work to be done. natural life is experienced.
    Bad cellphone reception, Bad TV reception, and Highspeed wireless is NOT a concern(it aint there).
    It amazes me that a family with 2+ kids still has a home that looks like crap… the kids are SUPPOSED to be doing some work… I dont CARE what it is, KEEP them busy.

  4. TJGeezer says:

    Requiring car companies to make seat belts standard equipment makes sense. Requiring people to USE the seat belts was stupid.

    Setting standards for motorcycle helmets makes sense. Requiring motorcycle riders to USE helmets was stupid.

    Making drivers responsible and liable for their own mistakes makes sense. Requiring them to buy insurance if they can afford to post a reasonable bond is just a scam by the insurance mafia.

    Personally, I got the sense we had stepped over a line where personal liberty succumbed to authoritarian rules when they made motorcycle helmets mandatory for riders. I personally wear a helmet when riding my bike, and would choose to even if they were optional. But I’m an old coot. Requiring them on ALL riders, to me, represented one of the first real incursions against my personal liberty. I felt that way years ago and I haven’t changed my mind.

    I feel the same way about the drug laws. I wish to christ it had been easier for my son to buy beer than to buy dope, the way it was for me. But the drug laws are about maintaining black market money flows. Helmet laws are only about hacking away at personal liberty in the name of other people’s delusional safety. And that is exactly the spirit of the frightened wimp.

  5. Oil of Dog says:

    When did the United States become a nation of frightened wimps?!

    The day our attitude changed from screw you to sue you!!

  6. Olo Baggins of Bywater says:

    Proud Alien…try Flags of our Fathers –either the book or movie– and get back to us about that wuss comment. It’s but one example of millions…no….Billlions

  7. Mr. Fusion says:

    Although there was some movement earlier, my own suggestion would be the impact of Love Canal. Once it come to be widely understood that none of us are totally safe in our neighborhoods, each little safety effort was easy to swallow. Whether it is seat belts, improved drug safety, lead in paint, flammability of children’s sleepwear, mercury in fish, toys with easy to dislodge parts, or polio immunizations, each has saved more lives then we can imagine.

    No, removing hazards from our lives doesn’t make us wusses, weak, cowards, inconsequential, or wimps. But it does extend our life expectancy.

  8. ECA says:

    What is a motorcycle helmit for…
    To identify the body AFTER he broke his neck.

    Insurrance, is interesting…Without it, and making you RESPONSIBLE for a wreck… Wouldnt that make you drive MORE safe??

  9. ECA says:

    What I find funny, in childrens clothing and fire safety…
    Is when the changed the CLOTH from Cotton, to polys…
    NEVER use Poly bed clothing..It melts to the skin…
    It was taken OFF the market, SOON after.

  10. ECA says:

    42,
    Close, but NOooo Pickle…

    REMEMBER, plz…
    The Slump in the economy AFTEr WW2..
    That was because of the EXTRA workforce…
    WHAT BECAME the problem was AFTER BUSINESS figured out, that MOST of these folks, HAD extra money… WHICH took a few years.
    IF you have abit of extra money, you can SPEND IT…You can take the KIDS out… IF someone takes it away…you dont have the EXTRA leasure… OF the 50′-60’s…
    The basic concept goes like this….
    KEEP them BUSY so they CANT think about whats going ON…Whats happening… MAke them NEED to work to put food on the table, and be Sooo tired they DONT have time to THINK or decide or make a decision…Or Riot or CHANGE what we are doing…
    Make them LOOK the other way while we make LAWS and change things…. MAKE WAR if we REALLY have to hide something…DONT let them get comfortable…

    REALLy look at it…This is happening in the USA as well as in Mexico…

  11. ArianeB says:

    Awesome article!

    Is America turning into George Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World, or Stallone’s Demolition Man?

  12. ECA says:

    Another POINT:

    How many of you Old techies, Remember…
    That the software people used to bounce around, and share the info and knowledge?? Those that left Atari, and went to other companies?
    When REVERSE engineering WAS allowed??
    when you learned from decrypting/decompressing Others programs and How to shortcut routines??
    When programs WERENT made for only 1 machine, but ALL of them.

    Multiplan, one of the first wide spread Spreadsheets was on the C64, PC, Mac, every machine and environment you can Name…
    Games werent Made just for 1 machine or environment…Look Now at the ATARI games packs, and they are Still being profited and spread to New machines. The atari, activision, and other Games from previous machines are being ported to the New. BUT the copyrights are being held by Distributours, NOT the orinal makers.

  13. ECA says:

    Last point…

    I want a LEGAL description of the word FREE’

    That does NOT include…
    signing me up to a monthly distribution of SOMETHING.
    Dont sign me up for adverts.
    dont LIST me for someone to sell my name.
    DONT use ‘*’ or ‘**’ or any OTHER sign to ADD to a contract, I DIDNT intend to signup for…

  14. Ascii King says:

    Boy, things sure were better back in the good old days when everyone was brave and used chainsaw’s to do dangerous jobs. Not like nowadays where we have lawyers and bankers and such things that they didn’t have 50 years ago.

    We were always pussies, as you put it. In the good old days, if something was dangerous you weren’t supposed to do it. Nowadays it’s the same except we are aware of more danger than before. We understand the long term effect on our knees and other joints of repetitive strain, so we caution against doing anything too much. If it were legal to let your kids rollerblade without helmets, would you let them? If not, then the law isn’t affecting oyu that much.

    The problem is not that we aren’t the rough and rugged people we once were. That whole notion is stupid. The problem is that we are giving in and allowing the fear mongering that is going on all the time in the media. You can sit here and try and figure out what happened in the past to make the now suck so much or you can look at the now to keep the future from sucking.

    What’s going on right now that screw everything up are the myriad of lawsuits for trivial things (and the fear those cause) as well as the fear mongering put out over the airwaves. Put a stop to the useless security checks at airports. Demand your politician stop bowing to the current exciting issue of the moment and present us with some long term goals.

    Whining about how good things used to be is for pussies.

  15. G says:

    I think it may have ended when we started being concerned with all the little people that couldnt otherwise take care of themselves. The term “little” being very loosely defined: anyone who is little intellectually, in terms of work ethic, in terms of aspiraction, etc. It actually pays to be stupid/lazy/ignorant nowadays. People can spill coffee from a fast food restaurant on their laps and get rich from it, eat too much and get on disability, not to mention the endless supply of various disorders that inhibit kids ablility to learn(adhd, add, etc etc etc.) Where were these excuses and handouts back in the times when we werent so spineless?…We dont take responsibility for our own actions/misfortunes anymore. We would rather have a disorder to explain our inability or have a government-provided program to help us out…and this has proven to be easier than the idea of “work hard and you will benefit from it.” Hard work has become a thing of the past….

    Everywhere you look there is someone/thing to blame for your screwing up. We have removed accountability from our vocabulary. In schools, when kids get in trouble, parents assume that the school is at fault. No accountability/responsibility placed on the child. Lies are an easy way out.

    With enough money, you can do no wrong. If you can afford a good enough lawyer, anything is possible. More removal of accountability.

    When things didnt work out for people in the workplace, school, fraternity, athletic team, etc, put up or get out. Now we look to change the establishment in order to cater to the little people. No more hazing, no more harrassment, no more getting picked on…these things used to make us stronger individuals. No more environment conducive to creating a strong individual.


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