David Rodeback's Blog

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Life Among the Mormons, and Other Stuff

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Friday, August 17, 2007

Did Governor Huntsman mean it? Has he thought this through? Or did exhaustion and emotion just get ahead of his reason for a minute? Admittedly, the duress was considerable.

There are a dozen or a hundred or a thousand ways to honor the coal miners killed and injured last evening while attemping to rescue their six missing comrades, who may still be alive in the mine. There are probably just as many ways to comfort, support, and sustain grieving families and communities, and the ones who aren't officially grieving yet but are terribly worried, as they have been for almost two weeks now.

One somewhat undesirable way is to let emotion carry us to irrational declarations. It's common enough and understandable, I suppose. But one hopes for better from our leader, Utah Governor Jon M. Huntsman, Jr.

Maybe he was just having a bad day (or two). It happens. In any case, numerous news sources have reported last evening and today that the Governor insists that underground rescue operations not be resumed until and unless the safety of the rescuers can be guaranteed. Set aside for our discussion some reasonable doubt as to whether the Governor has the authority to insist such a thing, and let's look at his declaration's substance.

I'm all for taking every reasonable precaution and minimizing unnecessary risk in all sorts of activities, including inherently dangerous rescue missions. And I'm reasonably certain that the Governor is smarter than his inflamed rhetoric in this case. At least I hope he is. And I hope he will provide a clarification, if his words have been misreported or misunderstood.

Meanwhile, "guaranteed"? Guaranteed safety sounds good in the heat of the moment, but it is not a rational standard. Consider what would happen if Governor Huntsman insisted on applying the same standard of guaranteed safety to air travel, automobile travel, bicycling, law enforcement, firefighting, house construction, farming, eating, exercise, manufacturing, and surgery. These are just a few activities he would have to bring to a screeching halt, in order to guarantee that they would pose no danger to anyone.

No one's safety is guaranteed. Ever. Anyone who says otherwise either hasn't thought about it or is selling something.

Heidi Rodeback comments (8/27/07):

"Life IS pain, Highness. Anybody who says otherwise is selling something." -- The Dread Pirate Roberts

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