Letter: Danger in all aspects of life

Jumping from bridges into rivers is dangerous (Gazette, July 11). But so too is charity swimming, either in Windermere, or across the channel, rock-climbing, walking along Striding Edge or venturing on to the sands of Morecambe Bay. So too is smoking, more than moderate drinking, playing rugby, driving a car.

It may well be appropriate to erect warning signs alerting people of the dangers they are about to face and there’s an argument to be made for charging people for the costs incurred when they get themselves into difficulties, and need rescue. Perhaps we should make some forms of risk-taking nominally illegal.

But the call of Kirkby Lonsdale’s councillor Paul Stephenson to haul tombstoniers before the courts to be ‘made an example of’ is way too extreme. It’s hard to reconcile such attitudes with the idea that we live in a liberal society where it is a generally accepted tenet that, foolish or not, people are free to make decisions about how to live their lives.

And it’s hard not to think that were the people involved not predominantly young men, and so an easy target, then the response might be different.

There are two points that might be made in reply. First, some activities are more dangerous than others, and there’s a limit beyond which prosecution becomes appropriate. But how dangerous is tombstoning? I don’t have the figures. How does it compare with climbing Everest?

Second, it’s not only the dead boy, but his family too who are victims here. They deserve sympathy rather than the suggestion that their son was a criminal.

Unfortunately, when people make decisions about their own lives there are often bad consequences for others. This isn’t something we should legislate away.

Chris Belshaw, Blawith

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