Monday, December 21, 2009

Locators and Suicide

In Oregon, there is a controversy raging about mountain climbing. The state park service wants climbers to carry locating devices, so that if they get lost, injured, or otherwise imperiled, the service can find them directly instead of having to mount a search. The service undergoes search and rescue efforts for all the climbers who disappear. Almost always the climber is found, often alive.
Of course, a coalition of mountain climbers finds the proposal completely unacceptable. Risk, they claim, is part of the fun. It's unreasonable to force people to be completely safe.
Very well then. I'm with those who say "No rescue for the beaconless." In fact, if a beacon-less mountain climber gets lost, I say we declare it a suicide. This has social and financial implications. Socially, suicide is prohibited by all religions and most other philosophies. Suicide is "bad." People reason that it's not sane to want to die. Financially, life insurance does not pay out to victims of suicide, on the grounds that it's the victim's own fault. While we don't go as far as the ancient cultures and bury victims of suicide in an insulting manner, society is very much against that kind of thing. And lost hikers require additional effort and risk for the rangers. Risking your own life could be tolerated, but risking somebody else's is asinine.
I say we declare it a suicide for the same reason that playing Russian roulette is suicide -- sure you might not die, it's risky, easily abolished (The article does not describe the weight of the beacon, but I'm assuming it would compare with a walkman), and provides a questionable benefit to the enactor. The extra weight may slightly inconvenience the climber, but not that much), the reasons to forbid it are many and the reasons to allow it are few. I argue that one should have the right to commit suicide, certainly, but not in ways that imperil other people.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...