"Tar and feathers used to be the method of dealing with these types of abuses. So what are we to do now instead?"
-- Benj Hall, online (boiseweekly.com, Citydesk, "Idaho Legislature To Consider New Statehouse Access Rules on Monday," Jan. 13, 2013)
I witnessed and captured on film that terrible accident that happened at Simplot Hill Jan. 12. On Jan. 13, a friend and I went back to the hill with banners and caution ribbon, and an edited version of the terrible video. We were, and still are, intent on changing the safety standards (or lack thereof) at Simplot Hill. We were amazed at how many people read the banners and turned around, but at some point, we were overrun and people began re-creating the conditions that led to the young boy being run over.
The news crew from KTVB showed up and recorded me talking about what had happened the day before and what we were trying to accomplish with the banners. I gave them a copy of the edited video and they included that in their 10 p.m. broadcast. However, they completely edited out the main points I was trying to get across: First, that I'm not trying get the hill shut down forever. Next, that there are simple and affordable solutions to make that hill so much safer, and finally that some parents don't realize that kids freeze up when they are going too fast and need to be taught the "bail-out rule."
They posted the video and the story on their website and Facebook page and it blew up with primarily negative comments about the whole thing. Everyone thought I'm an asshole or ego-maniac, or I want big-brother government to step in and control the situation. People made ignorant comments like: next he'll be wanting to shut down the Boise River or wrap everyone and everything in bubble wrap.
The ironic thing is I love sledding, I love adventure and danger, and I like to stand up for people's rights to do what they want to. But witnessing that firsthand and knowing that this has been going on year after year after year with authorities, media and the general public alike all saying, "yep, this happens all the time, these damn parents need to take more responsibility for themselves."
How about spreading that responsibility both ways? While the sign does say "Enter and sled at your own risk," it also says "we maintain the authority to revoke the use of this property." Why can't they invoke that right and shut it down long enough for some simple safety measures to be implemented? I feel by saying "enter and sled," they are by all rights inviting these people into a very dangerous situation under the pretense that this is good family fun. Ski resorts also have "enter and ski at your own risk" disclosures, however, they have personnel and safety fences and medics and people patrolling skiers' speeds, and above all else, a safe, gradual landing zone where you can come to a stop.
Simplot Hill has none of this, and yet they invite people onto this property anyways, fully knowing year after year there are life-threatening accidents happening there.
This accident--and I'm sure so many others in years past--could have been prevented if there was a no parking zone at the base of the main slope. This way, there would be a clear line of sight. There is also the option of putting up hay bails in the winter to stop people who have gotten out of control.
Second Amendment Brouhaha
Whenever Bill Cope talks gun rights, it draws a lot of comments. Here's a selection of what some online commenters had to say about his Jan. 9, 2013 column, "Repeal the Second!"
It's too late to close the barn door. There are almost as many guns as people in America. Unless you intend to institute house to house searches and confiscation, any of the incremental control proposals will be like bailing with a thimble to control a flood.
You, like many left liberal wingnuts that plague this country, fail to realize the obvious negative effects of what you are suggesting.