Monday, January 01, 2007

Three Missing Hikers Spark Portland Debates

In the recent weeks, the intense media coverage of the missing hikers on Mt. Hood has caused quite a commotion. But many of the discussions seem to be centered around whether or not people should be "allowed" to take the extreme adventures that they love so very dearly. I think some people all too quickly forget what it is like to do something that they truly love to do. I was compelled to participate in a discussion about the story on Portland's Independent Media Center in response to the great outpouring of conflicting opinions from readers hoping for regulations on mountain climbing:

Dsmith, you mention over and over that you don't think that the families
accepted the risk or that the climbers really understand the risks, or we
wouldn't see them on TV crying...They know the risks - the rescue teams know the risks - and they love the feeling of saving lives, and some of them even enjoy
the challenge of getting to the people in need. That's why they do it, too.

Does anyone remember the eight year old girl who died piloting a plane? Her mother received a lot of flack for allowing her daughter to fly a plane, but stated
(while crying on TV) that her daughter died doing what she loved, and thanked
her mom before she left for letting her do what she loved. Can you take the
thing a person loves the most - just because you selfishly can't fathom the
thought of living without them in your life? We should allow the people we love
to do the thing they love as long as it makes them happy.

In order to understand why we see the families on TV, you must understand mainstream media, and the reasons why the general public tunes in - which has also been generously covered here as well, as many of the comments here mention some of the reasons why these stories are covered with such ferocity...ratings and money. The families probably support their loved ones in what they love to do, and they end up on TV because that's what the reality-loving couch potatoes would love to see on their screens, as well as a profitable story for the mainstream media to portray. It's simple economics, supply and demand, in the form of television news.

While it is true that the climbers made some choices that may have led to their demise, is this really cause to request the undoing of many years of fighting for freedom of choice? Freedom from living in a police state where our every move is dictated by strict laws and regulations that cause us to conform to the ways of others? If this is what people are asking for, why not take away our freedom of speech? Since the world has experienced the first ever "internet rage" crime, with a person being attacked in his doorway by a man who looked up his address after being angered by some chatroom words, should we limit our freedom of speech too? Requesting tighter laws on our freedoms is treading on dangerous territory, and the sooner we realize it, the better we as people will be.

Our country was founded on freedoms, and it sounds to me like there are quite a few people willing to give up freedom in exchange for more control, laws and regulations from the government - is that what you are really asking for? Maybe I'm mistaken, but it seems pretty clear to me that you are asking for intervention from some sort of authority figures to prevent people from natural desire to explore the land - which is why and how we (Americans) got from the east coast to the west coast. It is what some people live for, and it's true that it became an "extreme sport", but it's in our nature as people to push ourselves to the limits. They know the risks - the rescue teams know the risks. Should we put regulations on the rescuers, since some of them die - stating that they can only carry out a rescue if it is within limits? Where would we draw the line? There's an old saying that I believe applies here, "Be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it."

To read the full story that prompted my above response, visit:
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Blogging the local Mt Hood area of Oregon. With skiing, snowboarding, hiking, shopping, wind surfing, live bands, resorts, movies, and much more to do, you'll never be bored in the Mount Hood area.