One of my favorite places in western NY happens to be right by my home – Mendon Ponds Park. I especially love to cross-country ski, snowshoe, and ice-skate there in the winter.
In any case, it is becoming increasingly difficult to find places to sled in Monroe County anymore. This is rather startling since the county is brimming with terrific public parks and its geology is perfect for the kinds of sledding that folks love to do. Almost every country park here has wide and vast slopes that just scream out for kids to spend entire days there sledding and tubing and messing around.
Until now of course. We were hiking at Mendon last week, and at Ellison park a few weeks ago and also walking around some of the local high schools that also have great sledding hills on them, and posted on hills in every location for all to see is, “Warning: Absolutely No Sledding is Permitted Here.” And the notice is from Monroe County Parks. I don’t have pictures but I’ll take my camera the next time I go out there and post the images for your enjoyment.
That’s simply incredible, it really is. Of all of the things Monroe County is spending its time on, telling us not to sled on spectacularly great hills is, needless to say, totally absurd. It’s at this point that I’d normally launch into a tirade on the ridiculous nanny-state paternalists all around us and perhaps bring up points like this. Not today. Today, I want to go on a tirade on you. That’s right. You. Not the government.
You are the reason for this suckage. Now, I imagine I can find a way to tie this all into government somehow, but that is not the point. Why are you the reason for this suckage? Because too many people can’t handle individual responsibility. Too many people cannot handle their own freedom. And you suck because of that.
Here we are, after two feet of fresh snow has blanketed the pastoral landscape of western, NY. Snow boots on, hats and gloves on snug, a clean hill of pure joy laid out before us for hundreds of yards in all directions, sled underfoot – and the Monroe County sheriff comes by to relocate us. And it’s all because you suck. I am sure someone in the past few years bumped their head while sledding. I am sure that some people crashed into one another while sledding at some point in the past few years. After all, on the best snow days dozens and dozens of families get the same excited feeling we do and head for the same hills. Indeed, part of the ritual of sledding that is important is learning how to respect the actions of others – not wallowing on the ground at the bottom, dragging your sled up along the side of the path, not aiming for people with your sled, and having a good laugh when you wipe out. And I am sure someone had the brilliant idea of suing the county or suing another sledder for some accident that may have occurred in the past.
So Monroe County (in my charitable interpretation) is not necessarily telling me what’s good for me, and telling me that I cannot make decisions about risk, thrill and safety for myself and my children – what they are telling me is that few of my neighbors are capable of making those decisions without imposing massive costs on the county and indeed me. This is perhaps a liability issue.
And you know what? That sucks. If I were running Monroe County, I could see why I too might want to make the same rules (they do allow sledding now only in a few designated areas), but where is real leadership when we need it? Where are citizens of influence and policymakers leading the charge to remind people that individual responsibility is important, is to be cherished, and is a valued part of living in a decent society? Where are the policymakers to put an end to the litigousness that perhaps has led to this outcome? Why can’t Monroe County make it clear (pass a law?) that “buyer beware” when people are out on a sledding hill on public property? Are people really too stupid to handle that?
So sure, we have this asinine park paternalism to deal with, but I offer up the very likely possibility that the park planners are not the asinine ones – we all are, and that sucks. And it sucks living among folks who are like that.
OK, rant over, back to our regularly scheduled programming.