Safety vs. freedom

Opinion Dec 07, 2017 Ancaster News

The City of Hamilton has decided to install five new red light cameras on the Mountain and the lower city in 2018 as part of a multi-year program that will add five cameras a year until 2021.

The locations were well chosen based on collision data and are designed to get motorists to think twice before gunning it when the light goes yellow.

Intersections are dangerous places and any reasonable steps the city can take to make everyone safer is in the community’s best interest. While they are far from perfect solutions, on balance, the case for red light cameras greatly outweighs the case against them.

It’s hard to argue against safety, but the desire for safety has to be carefully weighed against what society is giving up in pursuit of that noble goal.

The notion that forcing people to wear seat-belts is an infringement on personal freedom seems laughable 41 years after it was made mandatory in Ontario, but at the time it was a live argument. The province estimates that the law has saved close to 10,000 lives, which seems like a fair trade.

But safety has been used as a pretext for all sorts of infringements on personal freedoms, that have only been checked by society’s appetite to agree to them.

Airline passengers put up with invasive searches of their luggage and person because the thought of being hijacked or blown out of the sky is so horrible to them. Bus riders would never agree to that, even though globally more terrorist activities have been committed on buses than airplanes.

In many parts of urban Britain, the streets are thick with forests of CCTV cameras, which are monitored around the clock by agents of the state on the look out for trouble. The monitoring is tolerated, and even welcomed, because it allows people to feel safe in their homes and on the streets. However, it also means that their innocent comings and goings are being tracked by the state as well.

But as the justification goes: if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear.

Finding the right balance between constructive ways to prevent unnecessary deaths, injuries and crimes and an Orwellian dystopia is tricky. The legitimate concerns expressed by safety advocates must be weighed against the cost to society that preventing them would entail.

However, agreeing on where the sweet spot resides is a thorny question that goes to the core values a society holds and what it is willing to give up to feel safe.

Safety vs. freedom

It’s hard to argue against safety, but the desire for safety has to be carefully weighed against what society is giving up in pursuit of that noble goal.

Opinion Dec 07, 2017 Ancaster News

The City of Hamilton has decided to install five new red light cameras on the Mountain and the lower city in 2018 as part of a multi-year program that will add five cameras a year until 2021.

The locations were well chosen based on collision data and are designed to get motorists to think twice before gunning it when the light goes yellow.

Intersections are dangerous places and any reasonable steps the city can take to make everyone safer is in the community’s best interest. While they are far from perfect solutions, on balance, the case for red light cameras greatly outweighs the case against them.

It’s hard to argue against safety, but the desire for safety has to be carefully weighed against what society is giving up in pursuit of that noble goal.

The notion that forcing people to wear seat-belts is an infringement on personal freedom seems laughable 41 years after it was made mandatory in Ontario, but at the time it was a live argument. The province estimates that the law has saved close to 10,000 lives, which seems like a fair trade.

But safety has been used as a pretext for all sorts of infringements on personal freedoms, that have only been checked by society’s appetite to agree to them.

Airline passengers put up with invasive searches of their luggage and person because the thought of being hijacked or blown out of the sky is so horrible to them. Bus riders would never agree to that, even though globally more terrorist activities have been committed on buses than airplanes.

In many parts of urban Britain, the streets are thick with forests of CCTV cameras, which are monitored around the clock by agents of the state on the look out for trouble. The monitoring is tolerated, and even welcomed, because it allows people to feel safe in their homes and on the streets. However, it also means that their innocent comings and goings are being tracked by the state as well.

But as the justification goes: if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear.

Finding the right balance between constructive ways to prevent unnecessary deaths, injuries and crimes and an Orwellian dystopia is tricky. The legitimate concerns expressed by safety advocates must be weighed against the cost to society that preventing them would entail.

However, agreeing on where the sweet spot resides is a thorny question that goes to the core values a society holds and what it is willing to give up to feel safe.

Safety vs. freedom

It’s hard to argue against safety, but the desire for safety has to be carefully weighed against what society is giving up in pursuit of that noble goal.

Opinion Dec 07, 2017 Ancaster News

The City of Hamilton has decided to install five new red light cameras on the Mountain and the lower city in 2018 as part of a multi-year program that will add five cameras a year until 2021.

The locations were well chosen based on collision data and are designed to get motorists to think twice before gunning it when the light goes yellow.

Intersections are dangerous places and any reasonable steps the city can take to make everyone safer is in the community’s best interest. While they are far from perfect solutions, on balance, the case for red light cameras greatly outweighs the case against them.

It’s hard to argue against safety, but the desire for safety has to be carefully weighed against what society is giving up in pursuit of that noble goal.

The notion that forcing people to wear seat-belts is an infringement on personal freedom seems laughable 41 years after it was made mandatory in Ontario, but at the time it was a live argument. The province estimates that the law has saved close to 10,000 lives, which seems like a fair trade.

But safety has been used as a pretext for all sorts of infringements on personal freedoms, that have only been checked by society’s appetite to agree to them.

Airline passengers put up with invasive searches of their luggage and person because the thought of being hijacked or blown out of the sky is so horrible to them. Bus riders would never agree to that, even though globally more terrorist activities have been committed on buses than airplanes.

In many parts of urban Britain, the streets are thick with forests of CCTV cameras, which are monitored around the clock by agents of the state on the look out for trouble. The monitoring is tolerated, and even welcomed, because it allows people to feel safe in their homes and on the streets. However, it also means that their innocent comings and goings are being tracked by the state as well.

But as the justification goes: if you have nothing to hide, then you have nothing to fear.

Finding the right balance between constructive ways to prevent unnecessary deaths, injuries and crimes and an Orwellian dystopia is tricky. The legitimate concerns expressed by safety advocates must be weighed against the cost to society that preventing them would entail.

However, agreeing on where the sweet spot resides is a thorny question that goes to the core values a society holds and what it is willing to give up to feel safe.