Across the East Coast as the storm hit this weekend there were stories of forced evacuations for different reasons. One member of my family living in NY was forced out of his apartment because the area he lives in was expected to flood.
In my relatives case the police knocked on his door and demanded he leave immediately under threat of arrest if he didn't. They didn't even give him time to grab any valuables or electronics to attempt to protect them. He was left with no choice, either he left on his own free will or he left in cuffs in the back of a police car. He has since gotten back to his apartment but further down his road some buildings did get flooded out.
In another story I heard on the news this weekend a surfer wanting to ride the waves was arrested for refusing to leave the beach. In at least one other case a surfer was killed by the extreme weather.
It is stories like these which spur the debate asking the question of whether or not we are free?
Are we free to make our own choices in life even if those chocies sometimes put us in harms way and if not then were do we draw the line?
This same question is asked time and time again in the debates on laws from seat-belts and helmets to transfat to smoking and more.
From reading the writings of our founding fathers I've found that I believe in the philosophy they put forth in our Constitutions (state and federal) that come from the basic idea that your rights end where mine begin and vice versa. As long as you pay the penalty for your own actions and do not expect the rest of us to cover rescue costs if you find yourself in danger or attempt to sue when you find yourself hurt then by all means you should be free to do as you wish.
The 4th Amendment states:
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
Part of having the right to be secure in your own home and of your own effects is not being forced to leave it even if there is pending natural danger from weather.
I'm sure this same debate will continue on as long as I'm alive and years after but in my opinion it should always end with the side of freedom as long as the responsibility of that freedom goes along with it.
Removing the responsibility and forcing others to pay for your mistakes are just as bad as taking away your freedoms in the first place.