Like a Drunk in a Midnight Choir

The big news here is that Nik Wallenda became the first person to walk across Niagara Falls on a tightrope this morning, but there’s an asterisk:

He carried a 38-pound balancing pole on a harness that hung over his neck. Against his wishes, Wallenda reluctantly dragged a tether behind him that would have caught him had he slipped from the wire.

“I just feel like a jackass wearing it,” Wallenda complained to his father at one point during walk.

Officials at ABC, which carried the event live but with a seven-second delay, had insisted that he use the tether.

This whole event must be puzzling to the libertarians among us. On the one hand, Wallenda’s freedom to fall to his death with thousands of people watching was impeded by the nanny-staters who insisted on the tether. On the other hand, ABC is a corporation competing in the free market, which makes the tether a visible consequence of the action of the invisible hand.

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55 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    “I just feel like a jackass wearing it,” Wallenda complained to his father at one point during walk.

    Officials at ABC, which carried the event live but with a seven-second delay, had insisted that he use the tether.

    Hmmm. So the guy sold out his principles for free publicity and is now complaining about it after the fact. Is that about right?

  2. 2
    grass says:

    Libertarian response: something something TORT REFORM, etc.

  3. 3
    JGabriel says:

    __
    __
    mistermix @ Top:

    This whole event must be puzzling to the libertarians among us.

    There is no conflict — Libertarianism means the one with the most money always wins. Hence, ABC calls the shots with respect to the tether.

    OT Reminder: Don’t forget it’s Bloomsday today, folks.

    .

  4. 4
    Amir Khalid says:

    He’s a Wallenda, and various of his relatives have fallen to their deaths performing on the tightwire. ABC didn’t want to be in the sticky PR position of broadcasting his death on live TV, which happened with his great-grandfather back in 1978. Surely a libertarian would understand that a corporation is entitled to do everything in its power to avoid public embarrassment. And, because they have more money and power than any one person, the rights of corporations outweigh those of any individual, no matter how great his desire for achievement.

  5. 5
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @JGabriel:

    There is no conflict — Libertarianism means the one with the most money always wins. Hence, ABC calls the shots with respect to the tether.

    Just this.

    Illustrates the true nature of libertarians. They aren’t about liberty at all. They’re about property, and power.

    They are, in essence, longing for feudalism.

  6. 6
    asdfasdf says:

    As far as i know, libertarians have never had a problem with individual rights getting abridged by corporate entities. It’s only unacceptable when it’s due to a government or some sort of social compact.

    Though for all practical purposes, most libertarians would happily submit to mandatory state-sponsored butt rape just as long as they’re assured that they don’t have to pay the taxes to fund the program.

  7. 7
    Violet says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    Exactly. Most money wins. It’s pretty easy to understand.

    Since ABC is a corporation, and corporations are people, why didn’t ABC The Corporation walk across the tightrope? I’d pay to see that, especially if they did it without a tether.

  8. 8
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Hadn’t Blondin crossed the Falls back in the 19th c?

  9. 9
    RSA says:

    I’m surprised he got permission to do this. Various online sources say that the fines are up to $25K on the American side and $10K on the Canadian side, and jail time is a possibility. I guess if you’re ABC, you have connections.

  10. 10
    Raya says:

    It’s illegal to encourage or assist a person to commit suicide in NY State. If he fell to his death, performing a stunt that ABC was broadcasting and had presumably paid him for the rights to do so, they might be in rather a sticky position.

    (To say nothing of the fact that I, for one, certainly have no interest in seeing a dude plummet to his death doing something so freaking stupid. I exercised my own freedoms by turning off NPR every time they started talking about it.)

  11. 11
    maya says:

    The tether wasn’t the only thing that ABC insisted on. Nik also had to drop any reference to the Flying Wallendas for obvious reasons.

  12. 12
    JGabriel says:

    Raya:

    … I, for one, certainly have no interest in seeing a dude plummet to his death doing something so freaking stupid.

    __
    Not this dude, anyway. On the other hand, Jim Demint, Sam Alito, Fat Tony Scalia, Mitch McConnell … I’m not saying I would cheer if I saw these guys plummet to their deaths, but I’m sure I’d lose the struggle to keep from grinning.

    .

  13. 13
    JGabriel says:

    Raya:

    … I, for one, certainly have no interest in seeing a dude plummet to his death doing something so freaking stupid.

    __
    Not this dude, anyway. On the other hand, Jim Demint, Sam Alito, Fat Tony Scalia, Mitch McConnell … I’m not saying I would cheer if I saw these guys plummet to their deaths, but I’m sure I’d lose the struggle to keep from grinning.

    .

  14. 14
    Schlemizel says:

    ABC was stupid – like NASCAR the reason 80% watch is to see someone get hurt or die.

    Walanda whining is hilarious. If it was such an artistic violation don’t perform QED.

    The reason this was planned in the first place was for publicity for Buffalo NY. They think the area will gain somehow from the exposure (UGH!) Like pole sitting, marathon dancing and goldfish swallowing this is just a sign we are actually in a new great depression we are just polite enough not to notice

  15. 15
    jonas says:

    There’s no conflict here: the only entity that can constrain freedom is the federal government. If a corporation limits your freedom, well that’s just freedom at work, see?

  16. 16
    HRA says:

    @maya:

    I must need more coffee. I don’t get the need to drop any reference to the Flying Wallendas. It’s not like no one knows he’s a Wallenda.

    I could not get excited about this stunt and I could have been there to see it in about 30 minutes.

  17. 17
    YellowJournalism says:

    @RSA: The economies in both areas around the falls are hurting. This was simply a good PR move.

  18. 18
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Raya:

    doing something so freaking stupid.

    I will agree that it was rather pointless, but so are a lot of things.

    “Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?” This question was asked of George Leigh Mallory, who was with both expeditions toward the summit of the world’s highest mountain, in 1921 and 1922, and who is now in New York. He plans to go again in 1924, and he gave as the reason for persisting in these repeated attempts to reach the top, “Because it’s there …. Everest is the highest mountain in the world, and no man has reached its summit. Its existence is a challenge. The answer is instinctive, a part, I suppose, of man’s desire to conquer the universe.”

    Link.

  19. 19
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    I might add that libertarians think that THEY will be the new feudal masters, which is why it’s so attractive to them.

    The fact of the matter is, the liberty they crave requires most people to be their slaves. The idea that everyone needs equal amounts of liberty does not occur to them, because, well, in the true Randian sense, they’re special! They’re an elite! They deserve liberty, unlike the teeming masses who actually do the work that makes their dreams come true.

    The prototypical libertarian is a three year old screaming “MINE!”.

  20. 20
    Dave Ruddell says:

    “I just feel like a jackass wearing it,” Wallenda complained

    He actually said “jack off”, but then ‘corrected’ himself to jackass immediately after. I think it was intentional. ABC left it in despite the delay.

  21. 21
    Odie Hugh Manatee says:

    @JGabriel:

    But only if they have a tether and it’s around their necks. Oh, and I get to jounce the wire randomly.

  22. 22
    Marcellus Shale, Public Dick says:

    the ramones

  23. 23
    RobNYNY1957 says:

    He’s far from the first:

    http://www.niagaraparks.com/me.....story.html

  24. 24
    Roger Moore says:

    @Violet:

    Since ABC is a corporation, and corporations are people, why didn’t ABC The Corporation walk across the tightrope? I’d pay to see that, especially if they did it without a tether.

    And there were somebody standing by with a set of bolt cutters for when they were at the most dangerous part of the stunt. And BTW, ABC is part of a corporation (Walt Disney), not the full corporation themselves.

  25. 25
    Metrosexual Black AbeJ says:

    This whole event must be puzzling to the libertarians among us. On the one hand, Wallenda’s freedom to fall to his death with thousands of people watching was impeded by the nanny-staters who insisted on the tether. On the other hand, ABC is a corporation competing in the free market, which makes the tether a visible consequence of the action of the invisible hand.

    Ha ha. Also too: very good post title.

  26. 26
    Skipjack says:

    The whole thing is to drum up publicity for Niagara Falls, but now that I know they cheated with a tether I’m totally canceling my dream destination wedding to my dream girl I have yet to meet.

  27. 27
    Violet says:

    @Roger Moore:
    Even better, Disney The Corporation can slip off the rope.

  28. 28
    newshutz says:

    Where do you all live? You must have taken all the straw from your houses to make this many libertarian scarecrows.

  29. 29
    Roger Moore says:

    @Violet:
    I’d be sad to see ESPN go, especially since that would leave Fox as the biggest player remaining in sports TV.

  30. 30
    j says:

    Canada should have demanded a passport from him, and when he couldn’t produce it, sent him back to the USA; where DHS would detain him for having no passport.

    He would be stuck on that wire in the middle of the falls for eternity.

    Now THAT I’d watch.

  31. 31
    Violet says:

    @Roger Moore:
    Fine, we’ll sever ESPN from Disney before they get on the rope. It’ll be like cutting off its balls.

  32. 32
    Valdivia says:

    This is OT but a good english summary of how the leading spanish media figures reacted to the immigration announcement yesterday.

    I link to it because apparently on Red State they were quoting one of the Diaz Balart brothers who pretends to be a journalist on Telemundo saying it didn’t help latinos at all.

  33. 33
    Jack the Second says:

    @Davis X. Machina:
    Nik Wallenda was the first person to cross the Falls. Blondin (and countless others) crossed the Gorge, further down stream.

  34. 34
    Mnemosyne says:

    So, why, exactly, did they have to eliminate any reference to the Flying Wallendas? I did not watch, but most of the advertising seemed to be this weird “this random guy chose to do this stunt!” that was trying to pretend that he’s not one of those Wallendas.

    Did they think that fewer people would watch if they knew the guy had been doing high wire and trapeze work his entire life? WTF?

  35. 35
    CarolDuhart2 says:

    A Balancing Act in the Story of Aerialists ‘The Show Must Go On’ Looks at The Flying Wallendas Apparently there’s a family dispute over the name itself, with different factions fighting it.

    And what’ noteworthy is that he’s crossing at the falls part, rather than at the lower Gorge part.

  36. 36
    cmorenc says:

    @Raya:

    It’s illegal to encourage or assist a person to commit suicide in NY State. If he fell to his death, performing a stunt that ABC was broadcasting and had presumably paid him for the rights to do so, they might be in rather a sticky position.

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    “Why did you want to climb Mount Everest?” This question was asked of George Leigh Mallory, who was with both expeditions toward the summit of the world’s highest mountain, in 1921 and 1922, and who is now in New York. He plans to go again in 1924

    Every broadcast “documentary” about climbing Mount Everest now includes some obligatory shots of dead climbers freeze-dried in their death repose lying literally where live climbers must walk past within a couple steps distance. These shots of tattered frozen bodies are included in the interest of demonstrating just how risky and dangerous the undertaking still is, despite the fact that climbing it is hardly a rare accomplishment any more, undertaken by commercial outfitters taking folks with the money, time, and taste for extreme exotic quests to the top rather than being any sort of pioneering expedition anymore. Oh, and BTW did you know people DIE in the DEATH ZONE up here (see the bodies?) Did we mention that sometimes people fall three or four thousand feet off sheer drops to places too inaccessible to retrieve (or show on-camera) the bodies?

    About the only thing they won’t show is video of someone actually in their freezing-to-death oxygen-starved death throes, but they will gladly recount the leader of a doomed expedition’s final radio transmission to his wife at a moment he knew he was fucked.

    Sensitive, schmensitive. It’a all about what the networks think they can get away with in the interest of hooking viewer interest, without going a notch too far over the top and turning people off.

  37. 37
    SectarianSofa says:

    @mistermix — Oddly, this is my favorite post of yours ever.

  38. 38
    Dave Ruddell says:

    @j:

    He had a passport. They made a big show of having him show it to some CBSA agents.

  39. 39
    Viperbuck says:

    I still get a little queasy watching the Wallendas. I watched Nik’s uncle Richard Guzman touch a live wire with his balance pole on a wire walk in Wheeling, WV when I was nine years old in 1972.

    A bright flash of light was followed by a shower of sparks at which point the stadium lights went out. The show was over. We exited by safety light. And I don’t know if it was a libertarian thing, but there were no refunds.

  40. 40

    Ah the Wallendas. I knew the Wallendas back when I worked in the carnie world. There are two branches of the family, one considered fakes and one considered “real” Wallendas. Th billed themselves as the “Flying Wallendas” but the other branch of the family used that term as a pejorative, a reference to when Karl Wallenda fell to his death.

    Lots of Wallendas have fallen and died. To not perform this stunt with a safety harness would have been utter stupidity.

  41. 41
    RaflW says:

    Not only all that, but you can bet that NBC’s risk manager I’m sure said the tether was necessary to placate their private, for-profit insurer.

    So really, free markets what?

  42. 42
    KPres says:

    LOL!

    You people are dumb as fuck. There’s no conflict for libertarians. Wallendas was free to cross with or without a harness, as he saw fit. ABC (a group of people who happen fill out a particular tax form that leftards don’t like even though it results in higher tax revenues) was free to air his crossing or not air it as they saw fit. Neither put any coercive demand on the other, and nobody’s liberty was infringed. It’s telling, though, that you people think liberty means Wallendas should have been able to use violent force to make another group of people air his crossing even if they didn’t want to.

  43. 43
    brantl says:

    I bet the libertarians shit in their own mouths when the heard that he had to wear a harness.

  44. 44
    pseudonymous in nc says:

    @Southern Beale:

    There are two branches of the family, one considered fakes and one considered “real” Wallendas.

    Yeah, that’s the reason why they weren’t using the Flying Wallendas thing: when any family business gets to its seventh generation, you usually end up with those kinds of splits and disputes over naming rights.

    @j:

    Canada should have demanded a passport from him

    He carried his passport with him and got it stamped when he finished his walk.

  45. 45
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @JGabriel:

    OT Reminder: Don’t forget it’s Bloomsday today, folks.

    I didn’t forget. In fact, I put up a big “HAPPY BLOOMSDAY!” message on my FB page early this morning, and have received a rather surprising number of “likes” from a number of rather surprising friends.

  46. 46
    Yutsano says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Just out of curiosity, are you on wifey’s friend list?

  47. 47
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Yutsano:

    Alas, I am not. I would like to be :-)

  48. 48
    Yutsano says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: She’s easy to find. Not a lot of Minna Hongs in Minneapolis!

  49. 49
    wenchacha says:

    I thought the Jesus-praising portion of the walk felt pre-planned. He did more Jesusified talk than you hear in most high-church-style Protestant churches, and Catholic as well. Okay by me if he wants to exercise his freedom of religion, but it was more intense and lengthy than we generally witness on network tv.

    Seven Mountains dominionists probably loved it.

  50. 50
    j says:

    @pseudonymous in nc: @ Dave Ruddell

    Rats! I didn’t watch it last night. I saw about 10 seconds on the morning “news” today.

    I stand corrected. (And I’m sorry IF anyone blah blah blah…)

  51. 51
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Yutsano:

    Thanks! Am not sure I knew her IRL name.

    Now how do I let her know mine so she’ll let me in?

  52. 52
    Yutsano says:

    @SiubhanDuinne: Message her with your nym at the same time. That should cover it.

  53. 53
    SiubhanDuinne says:

    @Yutsano:

    Thx

  54. 54
    Jason says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Illustrates the true nature of libertarians. They aren’t about liberty at all. They’re about property, and power.

    This! Exactly.

    A libertarian’s idea of an ideal community is a private housing development, where all the land is owned by a corporation. These are run by resident’s associations who often enforce arbitrary rules — witness the fight over housing developments that ban clotheslines.

    One can hardly imagine a less free idea than not being at liberty to dry your own clothes on your own clothes line, because a resident’s council, backed up by a corporation, says you can’t! Libertarians view this as OK because the rule is established by private power. They don’t seem to understand that in this system, a resident’s council simply replicates the function of a local government, with less accountability!

    Libertarians simply want corporations to adopt the function of the government. A corporate run society will be more authoritarian than a government run society, but libertarians are in denial about this.

  55. 55
    Kant feel Pietzsche says:

    @Amir Khalid: Why do you go out of your way to get it wrong? ABC gets final say because it’s THEIR cameras, their network, their (gasp) private property.

    Freedom of speech doesn’t mean I have to provide you with a platform. Wallenda can commission his own telecast next time if he wants full editorial control.

Comments are closed.