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Ted Stevens, in Life and Death, an Individualist

Former senator Ted Stevens died today in a plane crash in Alaska at the age of 86. And although he was always “very protective” of Alaska’s minimally regulated “aviation culture,” Felix Samon makes the case that the sad irony surrounding his death wouldn’t inspire any regrets in the famous Alaskan himself:

The site of the crash — the small town of Aleknagik — is unreachable by road from Anchorage or from anywhere else, really, unless you’re driving from Dillingham. Alaska has precious few roads, and most of the state can be reached only by small planes, which are by their nature pretty dangerous things. But if you’re going to do the whole Alaska thing — and Stevens has been called the “Alaskan of the Century” — then you’re going to have to come to terms with the danger and make peace with the fact that you might end up in a crash.

In other words, this crash is not a sign that there was any irony in Stevens’s opposition to flight-safety rules in Alaska, and nor is it a sign that such rules need to be introduced or tightened up. It’s just symptomatic of what the NYT calls “a fate that is not unknown to many in Alaska”. [...]

It’s tragic that a plane crash has killed Senator Stevens. But it’s also something he was well aware could happen any day, and in a weird way it’s a fitting way for this individualist to go. He certainly wouldn’t have wanted any government meddling to constrain his ability to die this way.

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