Never Safety First

Never Safety First

Here’s a headline, drawn from what you will recognize is a large fund: “Safety first when viewing the partial solar eclipse in April“.

Here is another: “Safety first: Kern County Public Health hosting car seat check Friday“.

Another? Why not: “University Police: Think Safety First During Homecoming.

These were all recent news articles (I searched “safety first” with the quotes). Now “safety first” is a known popular slogan, one which drives the behavior of many Experts and bureaucrats.

Let’s think this slogan through. People, especially female people, are fond of saying it. Let’s apply it to the headlines above, as if we really meant it. That we were putting safety as a primary consideration. Not our only consideration, but the first and key one. What follows?


I mean that if you put safety first, nothing can happen. And not only nothing, but less than nothing. Safety First! is a death cult. It is a willing embrace of entropy and stagnation. As I shall now prove to you.

Let’s walk through the headlines.

“Safety first when viewing the partial solar eclipse in April.”

If you truly believe “safety first” then you will not look anywhere near the sun during the eclipse. Whatever device you look through might malfunction, or it might be based on a faulty design. The device could “leak” dangerous ultraviolet radiation, and cause eye damage, to include blindness.

People might be tempted to peek before even a fully functional device is put on, or they might slip it off before they have looked away from the sun. You know how people are and how this is not unlikely.

If you believed in safety first you must acknowledge Murphy’s Law. Safety first dictates that the safest thing to do is not to look at the eclipse in any way.

“Safety first: Kern County Public Health hosting car seat check Friday”

During the covid panic, I pointed out (again and again and again) the true statistic that many times more kids died in car crashes than they did of the coronadoom. This is still true, and will always be true.

It’s true that wearing a seat belt makes it on average less likely you will die or be injured in a car crash, but there are exceptions. You might be one of them. And “less likely” is not “unlikely” or “impossible.” Every time you get behind the wheel, you risk death. Not just your death, but those of your passengers and those people along the route you take.

If you believed in safety first you must not drive or be driven. You must not let anybody in any vehicle. The safest thing you can do is never drive or be where cars are.

“University Police: Think Safety First During Homecoming”

Would you dare venture into a seething mass of young scholars? Especially given student constituencies these days? Anything can happen. And you know it. Rape, molestation, drunken fights, the overwhelming temptation of illicit drug use, even shootings. All that and much more.

If you believed in safety first you must not attend any Homecoming. And if you’re in charge, you must not allow such events to be held. The safest thing you can do is to stay away.

You have the point. These sort of analyses and breakdowns can be done for any activity. Every activity. Therefore, it follows that if safety first is your philosophy then you must not engage in any activity.

But even that’s not quite right. Because opting out of everything means at least opting in to something like sitting absolutely still in what you think is the safest place you can reach. And at the point a rock from space might hit you on the head. Or a driver might stray off course and find you. Or you might die from misadventure trying to reach your safe haven.

Or the water you brought with you may be tainted. Or the food. Or the ground upon which you sit could be toxic, or contain fireants, or some new heretofore undiscovered deadly bacteria.

Or anything.

The Cult of Safety First! is based on a logically impossible philosophy. Safety first is always and in every way strictly impossible. It is not possible. Safety first as practice cannot exist, no matter how much awareness is raised or how earnest the faces of the effeminates and women in charge.

Yet the Cult always says “Here is what we mean by safety first.”

The dicta of the Cult thus always mask a risk preference, and risk preferences are not science. They are not universal. They may or may not apply to you, and those from Experts likely will not apply to you. The example again is the covid panic and vaccinating the young. There was no reason for this for almost all kids (exceptions being the congenitally ill). But the Cult chanted Safety First! and parents fell in line.

Never safety first.

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  1. Gwyneth

    “Courage is mankind’s finest possession because it enables us to do the right thing, to face danger, and to enjoy life. People who live in fear are miserable.”

    Spartan poet Tyrtaeus

  2. Joseph Moore

    Along these lines, I thought of getting t-shirts made with:

    Safety is at best 4th


    Safety only when prudent

    But I’m not much of a t-shirt guy and failed to execute. I did have a mask which read “make Orwell fiction again “.

  3. The True Nolan

    RE car seats: “Every time you get behind the wheel, you risk death. Not just your death, but those of your passengers and those people along the route you take.”

    It’s even worse than that! Suppose you kill someone along the route, maybe someone who is (or may become!) a world class brain surgeon. You have then killed not only the potential surgeon, but also killed all the patients he (or she, or they, or ze) would have saved. Maybe one of those lost patients is the man who would have stopped a nuclear holocaust! My God, man!! You are not really thinking of ever driving again, are you?!

  4. p

    Yep – and by coincidence I stumbled across this rather apropro video via a comment by someone on instapundit…

    (Nolan: do what i do; I have a MAGA cap in the car – if I hit someone I plan to pop the hat on the body and get off scott free. )

  5. James Daniel

    School buses frequently have text on the rear saying something like, “Safety is our top priority!”

    My immediate thought is, “No it isn’t! If it were, you would have NO CHILDREN in that bus, ever. Your top priority is driving kids to school, not preventing all possible danger to those children.”

  6. Cary D Cotterman

    I’ll be spending the eclipse in my basement, thick cardboard taped over the window, a black wool hood over my head, and wearing a helmet. When I don’t hear the screams of the dying outside anymore, I’ll know it’s safe to come out.

  7. Cary D Cotterman

    “Homecoming” is an offensive term to those whose home is a blue plastic tarp on the sidewalk (stolen from Home Depot). I insist all colleges and high schools begin using a non-offensive euphemism. Revenance Day?

  8. Chloe

    Helen Keller perhaps had more reason to opt for safety than most. This is what she said about it:

    “Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing”

  9. Kevin A

    Anthony Esolen makes this point in several of his books about raising children. He sums it up as “Safety Kills”.

  10. Tars Tarkas

    I have absolutely no desire to go outside and observe something that occurs every single day…that is, the dark.

    This safety first thing applies everywhere. So much of what used to be regular activity is now highly frowned upon or outright illegal. When I was in school in the 70s, after about 4th grade I didn’t want to take the bus anymore. So I started walking to school. I had to cross a 12 lane highway that is one of the most dangerous in the United States (just google Roosevelt Blvd). This was routine. We had a crossing guard. My whole 6 years of elementary school, not one kid was run over crossing this crazy road. Today I hear of parents being arrested and charged for allowing their children to walk home from school at even older ages than I was. My walking was completely unremarkable. During the summer I rode my bike all over Philadelphia. And I did it without a helmet.

  11. McChuck

    The Cult of Safety has led to many a tragic outcome in the Army. It’s safer to stay on base than to patrol. It’s safer to wear a hundred twenty pounds of gear than to go light and actually catch a fleeing enemy. It’s safer to do nothing than to take action you might get blamed for later. It’s safer to fill out paperwork than to actually train for combat.

  12. C-Marie

    Hi Matt, Just to say that I really, really, really miss your old format!! It was like reading an old newspaper yet with fresh and exciting ideas and ways of looking and seeing and understanding. This new format is slippery and sliding and does not come across as sturdy and strong and demanding. Anyway, maybe I will get used to it.
    God bless, C-Marie

  13. Chloe

    With you on that. Not overenamoured with new format.

  14. gareth

    a) @Tars Tarkas – do go “be under” the eclipse if you can. A total eclipse is an amazing experience.

    b) There is a popular parting greeting that I was unthinkingly accustomed to use: “Take Care!” Now I stop myself and say “Have Fun!” instead.

    c) ‘fraid I too am not keen on the new format, although I do admire its technical technicaliness.

  15. John W. Garrett

    But…, but…, but… the Precautionary Principle !!

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