John Kerry failed at tanning

I follow events on the political scene with a very broad lens. I particularly keep a close watch on our local scene because I feel it has the most immediate and larger impact on me, my family, my finances and job situation and our community. I’m not an activist nor do I believe that I will ever consider throwing my hat into the political arena because frankly, I just don’t have the stomach for it and I am much too skeptical of the process.

I confess that there are some political hot topics that I vacillate on depending on the climate, my digestive system and what is on my dinner table at night when I’m watching another debate or pontificating on a subject that I have a particular interest in and can’t contain myself. I love talking about the issues and getting a different perspective, particularly if it is contradictory to my own. I enjoy hearing and processing the views of various people whom I respect and whose opinions matter to me.

Sometimes I am indifferent and other times I’m deeply affected, but no matter what the issue, I find more and more that I am genuinely interested in the outcome. I wish I had always been this way but like most things that matter I feel it is better late than never and later in life has given me a more cultured and patient approach to the process.

Today I read about an issue that to me really isn’t an issue at all. I’m going to avoid the words ‘abuse’ and ‘power’ as much as I can, but this is one of those topics where I sense a lack of discretion and a deficiency in judgment. I read of these too often in our local headlines and it makes me wonder how politicians decide that this is going to be their cause – the “Alamo” where they make their stand against an injustice or a cause that deserves their attention.

Would you agree that there are some proposed (and some that have passed) bills or laws that just make you shake your head with bewilderment?

Well, this time I literally shook my head while reading a proposed bill by Senator Pat Jones will essentially ban minors from using tanning beds in Utah even with a signed consent from a parent. Laws like this one always raise a red flag and questions about its validity for me for a number of reasons:

1) What happened to my right to exercise my freedom of choice?

2) How does John’s and Jane’s tanning addiction affect me?

3) Why are we talking about the tanning habits of the individual when there are more pressing social issues to discuss?

My attitude towards sociology on most political issues is fairly unsophisticated and to a very large extent selfish. My personal code of ethics state that, “If people and the laws that govern them do not in any way inflict harm or impinge on my rights and/or the lives of those whom I love let all people choose for themselves and be subject to the consequences of their own actions.”

I know it seems a bit narrow minded. Though it’s not a hard and fast rule but it’s a basic premise for me that seems to work and allows me the flexibility to view any issue through the broad lens I mentioned earlier.

So why should banning minors from tanning be a conflict for me? Because it’s a health issue that requires a person to utilize his own decision-making skills, to make do the research in order to make an informed decision for himself and for the benefit of his family. If some guy wants his kids to look orange in the middle of a cold winter than that’s his choice. If there is a consequence to that decision and action then let them live with it but don’t take away their ability to make that decision on their own.

If your argument for banning minors from tanning beds is to protect them from harmful UV rays then shouldn’t your bill also include an amendment to ban everyone from the streets during the summer months or any time the sun is out? Or you also going to demand the recall of any light bulb that emits UV rays? Will you also insist that everyone have a bottle of sunblock in their possession at all times?

I know that people in political spheres want to save us from ourselves sometimes but in the grand scheme of things, laws (in my mind) are meant to protect us from criminals and criminal activity, not to regulate our decision-making power.

What do you think?

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