Pants Zipper vs. Car Jacker

Thanks to The ieitfanhth
Arkansas Project
, we can all now ask the question posed in this headline:

Should You Be More Afraid of Carjackers — or the Zippers on Your Pants?

Recall that the Arkansas Senate passed the Free-Range Kids Bill of Rights, which says, essentially, “Our kids have the right to some unsupervised time, and we have the right to give it to them without getting arrested.”

But it was voted down in the House of Representatives after the Speaker, Jeremy Gillam, said that at least one provision — the one that would allow parents to let their kids wait in the car for under 15 minutes on temperate days — was too dangerous, because kids could get  carjacked in 37 seconds.

The Arkansas Project’s Marc Kilmer  went to look this up:

There were….no statistics that I found that measure the length of the average carjacking as taking 37 seconds, as Speaker Gillam claimed.

Kilmer did find stats about kidnapping and determined: “There is a .00000142% chance your child will be kidnapped by strangers.”

Then he found a menace that is far more common: “zipper related genital injuries.”

There were over 17,000 of those between 2002 and 2010 (occurring exclusively to men). And yet there is no move to ban zippers. There are no hearings where legislators decry zippers as a public health menace.

That’s because we recognize that while these injuries are a big deal to those who experience them, there are also benefits from using zippers. The risk of an injury is slight compared to the benefits of zipper usage, so millions of men operate these potentially dangerous products every day.

If you think about it, there is a slight chance of something bad happening in almost every activity we do.

And that is the key. We think we can create a risk-free world by eliminating activities that are very safe, but not perfectly so. But in fact, not only is there no such thing as zero risk, there are trade offs when we try to create that world.

Taking the kids out of the car means exposing them to the danger of crossing a busy parking lot, or entering a store where there could be a hold-up, or tripping on the curb — you name it.

We cannot create a zero risk world, if only because we want to be able to zip up our pants. — L

Please don’t outlaw me!



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29 Responses to Pants Zipper vs. Car Jacker

  1. BL June 24, 2017 at 10:59 pm #

    The Amish don’t use zippers.

  2. AmyP June 24, 2017 at 11:25 pm #

    I did have my car stolen once (amazingly the police actually found it and returned it, the person not caught since the car was abandoned). Carjacking usually refers to when you’re in the car and forced out which wasn’t the case with mine, but actual carjackings were common enough in the high crime city I lived in. Funny thing though, I actually felt LESS afraid of carjackings when my kids were with me vs being alone. Same thing with kidnappings. People have a lot of fear when it comes to kids being taken, but in actually as a petite woman I’m way more likely to be robbed or kidnapped when walking alone than my kids are (not that I live in fear of that either). Why is it people spend more time worrying about the unlikely? Statistics are a better indicator of what we should fear (like zippers I guess!)

  3. Archimedes June 24, 2017 at 11:25 pm #

    All it took was once. All buttons, all the time.

  4. Emily June 24, 2017 at 11:27 pm #

    I waited in the car all the time as a child, unless there was a compelling reason not to (longer errand, or if it was really cold out–I’m Canadian), and I lived to tell the tale, as did……well, everyone else I know, bar two people, except neither of them died at the hands of carjackers. One died of a drug overdose in 2009, and the other died of brain cancer in 2013…….but I have never heard of any child ever *actually* being murdered by a carjacker. As for the pants zipper thing, that’s a bit harder for me to understand, because I don’t have male equipment. Wouldn’t the solution to that problem be to simply wear underwear, and make sure everything’s tucked in?

  5. Archimedes June 24, 2017 at 11:35 pm #

    We had a near miss two weeks ago.

    Armed burglar laid in wait with the spare keys til my wife got home, ran around the back and hopped in, and took off.

    We’re working through the full implications to how we manage things.

    At the least, spare keys are no longer left in the kitchen on a hook.

    High on meth, armed…low cost, practical adjustments are warranted.

  6. M June 25, 2017 at 12:26 am #


    Don’t give people ideas! Or next month there will be a viral FB post about zippers, and there will be campaigns to ban zippers on children’s clothing. Even boots with or jackets with zippers will be considered “dangerous” because “You can never be too safe” and if you can just “Save one child!”

    We will see mom shaming because “I can’t believe she lets her child near a ZIPPER!” Even parents will be discouraged from wearing clothes with zippers, “Just in case!”

    And there will be big debates about “how old” a child can be to use a zipper. 10? 12? Maybe 18?

    If you say “I’ve been wearing clothes with zippers my entire life!” People will shake their heads and say “You don’t care about children!” and others will suggest CPS should visit your house, because you are obviously unfit to be a parent.

  7. Judas Peckerwood June 25, 2017 at 2:04 am #

    @Archimedes: “All it took was once. All buttons, all the time.”


  8. Coasterfreak June 25, 2017 at 10:08 am #

    17,000 zipper related genital injuries in 8 years? Seems like there’s a lot of guys out there not wearing underwear when they should be!

  9. Andrew June 25, 2017 at 11:42 am #

    When I hear men (or occasionally women) sounding squeamish about vasectomies. I often comment “If you’ve ever been caught in your zipper, you’ve probably felt far worse than the procedure.” Almost always, at least one guy will say “well, I know what that is like.”

  10. Skip June 25, 2017 at 12:34 pm #

    I’m firmly in the camp of “we have too many laws trying to keep us 100% safe”, but for the person who had never heard of a child killed in a carjacking, there was one such case just last month in which a six-year-old was shot in the head:

    If you’re someone who considers a 16-year-old a child, here’s one from a couple years ago:

    Here’s an 11-year-old, definitely a child, who was shot during a carjacking but survived:

    Violent people have no boundaries or limits to what they will do. There are already laws against stealing cars, kidnapping, and murdering innocent babies.

    I’ve known people who got horribly injured stepping off of a curb wrong. Should we ban curbs?

  11. SanityAnyone? June 25, 2017 at 12:49 pm #

    If this gets out, zippers will soon go the way of drawstrings in hoodies and coats which were removed because they are apparently too dangerous for all kids and most adults.

  12. Richard June 25, 2017 at 1:20 pm #

    @Skip sure, but with 70 million kids in this country those represent far fewer people than, say, kids dying of measles because they weren’t vaccinated. The fact that they can make national news shows how amazingly uncommon they are.

  13. Sochii June 25, 2017 at 1:30 pm #

    No one is dying of the measles in the US.

  14. James Pollock June 25, 2017 at 1:43 pm #

    “No one is dying of the measles in the US.”

    Sure, unless you count the people who have died, as a result of measles, in the US.

    Measles doesn’t kill you directly. It ravages your immune system and allows opportunistic follow-on infections to finish the job.

  15. Theresa Hall June 25, 2017 at 2:19 pm #

    James even in the last outbreak only one person died and that was iffy because she had gotten the shot and had other problems that could kill. It the gardsil shot I heard is a lot of bull especially for African Americans. Instead protecting those folks it makes them sick but never question the vaccine

  16. Miriam Drukker June 25, 2017 at 3:43 pm #


    Reply to:
    …”Don’t give people ideas! Or next month there will be a viral FB post about zippers, and…”

    Well – this happened before – you can’t find children’s clothes with buttons, nor with laces. Not babies’, nor even young children’s clothes. I think buttons appear on tween clothes. I don’t know how many kids were strangled by laces or choked by buttons, but it’s a standard now. My father, a pediatrician, did see kids choking from nuts, so he warned me (as a mom) against that, and to wait until the age of 5. But he didn’t tell me about buttons. I never received a direct warning from my family doctor against nuts. And I had quite a few friends who didn’t wait until the kids were 5 with nuts and seeds. Saying “the kids can chew”. It has nothing to do with chewing – it has to do with the structure of the epiglottis. But most of them had very strong opinions about how dairy products can be dangerous, or sugar or honey or whatever.

    We’ll Velcro everything!

    And kids don’t know how to tie their shoes until they are 12-14 years old – my friend’s son can’t do it (he’s 12). He eventually learned it in a few days when one of his friends found out and he was embarrassed.

    And then we’ll find out that Velcro is dangerous too! 🙂

    (I actually don’t care if they decide that zippers are out, I hate zipper too, even thought I’m not a male. So they can recall products and make new products. But don’t call CPS on people who have older clothes with zippers. They will gradually, eventually, naturally phase out. Only if needed – of course…).

  17. Dienne June 25, 2017 at 6:33 pm #

    Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. I remember when my elementary school girlfriends and I discovered the section on “zipper injuries” in the first aid book. We giggled about it for weeks (considering that we lacked the parts involve in said injuries and, as such, knowledge of the pain involved).

    But, yes, it does seem that underwear would prevent most of those injuries. What exactly is the attraction to going commando?

  18. Donald June 25, 2017 at 6:34 pm #

    I’ve studied stupidity for decades.
    What causes it?
    Why is it an epidemic?
    How does common sense become uncommon?
    Why are we so powerless to stop this plague?

    One of the things I’ve come up with is that a horrific thought can have similar effects to electricity. If you get electrocuted, the current can force your muscles to grip the wire even tighter! Note the electric shock is what’s causing the damage but it also forces you to continue to get electrocuted!

    The image of a toddler being carjacked can fill a person’s head with so much dread that they’re unable to think of anything else! The risk of dragging a half asleep child through a busy parking lot should also be considered. The likeliness of the event occurring, and these were compared with each other possible dangers should also be part of the decision-making.

    HOWEVER, this is more intelligent thinking. It comes from a different section of the brain. THIS SECTION OF THE BRAIN BECOMES TEMPORARILY PARALYZED during the time we’re being ‘electrocuted’ by the horrific thoughts!

    Even if it’s working and others dangers and likeliness are being considered, these can be ‘vetoed’ because this horrid thought declares marshal law.

  19. Dienne June 25, 2017 at 6:40 pm #

    Between 2000 (the year measles was supposedly eradicated in the US) and 2015 (the date of the linked article), there were 10 deaths due to measles, most in the first five years of that time span:

    So, yes, I suppose “people” are dying of measles, but very, very few (in fact, one *person* in ten years). Probably more deaths due to zipper injuries.

  20. Donald June 25, 2017 at 6:58 pm #

    I’ve had a couple of zipper injuries because I ‘went commando’ temporarily. For example, I go swimming. However, while I’m changing, I remembered something that I forgot. I went commando because it will only be for a minute. (or so I thought) I didn’t consider that the injury taking so long to fix.

    BTW that’s also in my study of stupidity. Dealing with the unexpected, cutting corners, or disrupting your normal routine can result in a ‘brain fart’!

  21. Dave June 25, 2017 at 7:25 pm #

    This really has nothing to do with child safety – it’s all about grandstanding politicians who want something to point to come election time. The same ones who want to lock up every criminal for life, and have us foot the bill.

  22. Kenny Felder June 25, 2017 at 9:37 pm #

    Perfectly said as always.

  23. Crazy Cat Lady June 26, 2017 at 12:40 am #

    “The attraction of going commando” with my youngest, I suspect related back to when he was potty trained. He got it right away….as long as he wasn’t wearing underwear. Now it is habit, I doubt he could articulate why he wants to do that despite me offering styles other than tighty whities. He has had several times with his shorts (that generally were worn by his brother and maybe someone else before him) giving out at bad times…like birthday parties. But…it doesn’t stop him. He just WILL NOT wear underwear. At some point, when he is a bit older, I may show him that scene from “Something About Mary.” I don’t think I want to watch that whole movie with any of my kids, due to other scenes, but that one with the zipper…!

  24. Crazy Cat Lady June 26, 2017 at 12:42 am #

    Oh too, clarify, I suspect that underwear being tight, felt like a diaper, being tight. So less accidents if there are no underwear and things hang free. At least with my own son. No idea with other people, including my husband and some brothers.

  25. David N. Brown June 26, 2017 at 1:38 am #

    The most ridiculous aspect of the carjacking anxiety is that it’s commonly accepted wisdom that common criminals don’t hurt kids on purpose and HATE people who do. Even if it’s not strictly true, playing the “honorable thief” card is safer than helping a prosecutor make you look like a monster.

    As for zippers, I never had any anxieties about injuries growing up, but, as I mentioned in another thread here, I couldn’t work out urinals. The big hurdle was keeping my pants up while dealing with everything else, which in hindsight probably had a lot to do with generally lousy eye-hand coordination. The end result was that I stayed in the stalls and still do.

  26. Dienne June 26, 2017 at 10:00 am #

    As far as going “commando”, I should mention that my younger daughter does that. But then, she (a) rarely wears jeans or any pants with zippers and (b) in any case, lacks the part that would get stuck in said zipper. I have no idea why she likes commando either.

  27. Eric S June 26, 2017 at 10:27 am #

    Ignorance and stupidity in government. Welcome to the new normal. Thanks America.

  28. Rachael June 26, 2017 at 1:08 pm #

    Velcro and elastic for everyone! Unless of course one were to get a rash from the Velcro, or have the elastic snap and hit them in the eye. Oh no, what will we ever do?

  29. Mark June 28, 2017 at 8:35 pm #

    The usual outcome of a carjacker finding themselves in a car with a kid is that the car gets quietly dropped off in front of the police station.