Let me preface this by saying that while I am an extreme newbie, I have been lurking for a while. I have read and enjoyed many of Scylla’s posts. He is an extrodinary writer and a intelligent man. I have nothing but respect for him.
Scylla, you said something in this thread http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?threadid=67171 which really bothered me, and it comes up in my head when I see your posts. Obviously I’m overreacting, but I was in a similar situation once (on the other side) and it pissed me off to no end. And since everyone else gave you support and encouragment, I wanted to register a dissenting opinion.
Okay, your sister-in-law seems like a jerk, here and elsewhere in the thread.
But you just told her that you expect her to sacrifice her life for someone else’s child. In fact, you ordered her to. How does the fact that YOU decided to have children give YOU the right to make ANY decisions for other poeple, especially life-and-death decisions? As a parent, I understand that you may be willing to die in the place of your daughter, but if you told me to do so, I would be both shocked and angry.
I have no responsiblity to your child. I may choose to help you protect your offspring. I think it is morally correct for adults to help children whenever they can. I do not think it is correct for parents to assume that their child is more precious than anyone else, or that anyone else would think so. I’m tired of the attitude that all adults should be willing to give up life/freedomof speech/sex/etc… because some parent somewhere decided that their child could be hurt by these activities.
I think that what your sister-in-law should have said is “I am angry with you for trying to order me around. I do not allow you to make moral or life-threatening decisions for me. I do not feel that your offspring (while they may be important to you) are more important to the universe than I am, and I resent you deciding that I should be willing to die rather than risk the mere possiblity of harm to someone you happen to like more than me. I realize this is your car, and you have the right to make the rules here, but if you feel this way perhaps you might drop me off at the next bus station.”
However, I have to say that if I had been faced with what you said to her, I probably wouldn’t have time to come up with that reply. Angry and hurt, it might come out as “Let the baby burn!”.
Moderators: You may decide this belongs in the pit, because it is highly critical. I put it in MPSIMS because, um, well, I LIKE Scylla. I don’t want this to be an attack on him, I just think he was overbearing in this one case.
P.S. I do think it would be entirely appropriate to tell someone before a road trip that you have certain safety expectations, and they can decide whether they choose to assume that risk.