Thursday, June 20, 2013

Protective talismans

I was reading an article about some private group "illegally" painting crosswalks on streets because the local thugs who claim ownership of the streets wouldn't.  They said the lack of painted crosswalks was too dangerous, and that several members of their group had been hit by cars due to the lack of clearly marked crosswalks.

They took the initiative and did something, with their own time and money, that they believed needed to be done.  And didn't violate anyone's property rights in doing so.

I don't have a problem with that (even though the local thugs had a big enough problem that they spent as much money scraping away the crosswalks as it would have cost to paint them in the first place), but it does raise some other questions in my mind.

Whatever happened to pedestrians (as people) being responsible for watching out for themselves?

Whether I am walking, biking, or driving I know my safety is MY responsibility. I never assume the other guy sees me or cares whether or not he runs over me.  Sure, it is nice if others are watching out for me, but I don't trust my life on that gamble.  I don't assume that a stop sign means oncoming cars will stop.  Or that a "law" that says they must will make it so.

The ultimate responsibility for my safety is mine- not that I can always avoid accidents. That doesn't absolve anyone else from their responsibility if their carelessness causes an accident.  So, sure, I might seek restitution for harm if someone else is at fault. That has nothing to do with what I'm talking about.

But seriously, does anyone really believe that paint on the asphalt will prevent accidents?  Stripes painted on a road accomplish nothing real- it's magical thinking to believe they do.

My question to those who trust signs, paint, and "laws":  What other magical talismans do you believe in?  Do you blindly trust stop signs to physically stop oncoming cars, too?  Do you never look for yourself, trusting that the signs and paint will reach out and protect you from harm?  It seems some people do.



  1. I'm reminded of the apocryphal story of the person calling city hall to complain about the deer crossing sign: "Why would you put the deer crossing in such a high traffic area?"

    When a voodoo curse or a sugar pill works, it's because the recipient believes it.

  2. A (in)famous AZ politician did much the same thing in a small town N of Phx.
    Was both cheered and vilified - how dare he?

    Kudos to the late Sam Steiger!


  3. A very good point. It comically freaks out the people behind you when you ignore red lights when no one else is at the intersection. why? because as you say the talisman keeps them safe and passing safely without it is "dangerous," keep up the good work.