I read the paper day by day and watch the nightly news with in-depth reporting on DUI, Teen Smoking, seat belts, helmets, etc., etc. I canít help but wonder is this push to make laws for every unsafe action the direction we really want to take? As I drive the streets and see road blocks shaking down American citizens, I cringe at the direction we seem to be heading. Children have been handcuffed and pushed to the ground starting June 1st for not wearing a bicycle helmet. The fine, only 17 dollars, after court costs, $55.00. In Broward County, law enforcement is rounding up teens and handcuffing them for smoking cigarettes. The push is currently on for the law to pull you over if they suspect you are not wearing a seat belt. In Chicago there have been over 45,000 arrests for the crime of Ďhanging outí (loitering). One beer within five minutes of a breathalyser will cost your license, several thousand dollars, and possibly your job. In the paper recently, opinion column writers have called for the heads of first time offenders of DUI and while I believe everyone wants the drunken driver who has little, sloppy, or no control of their vehicle off the road, I also believe that the dangerous direction of guilty until proven innocent that the squeaky wheels of society are embarking upon, is dangerous and detrimental. I know of a person who within a couple of minutes of inhaling the medication from an asthma inhaler was detained at a roadblock and forced to take a breathalyser test, having nothing to fear he blew a positive 1.8 on the scale, he was pulled from his car handcuffed, imprisoned and humiliated for all to see. No one would believe him except the folks who knew he did not drink, at all, ever. After paying several thousand dollars in lawyer fees, losing his job having to supeona friends and clergymen for character witnesses, He was acquitted, not with an apology but with a look of scorn and doubt. A look and tone of voice that said, "If it wasnít for a sharp lawyer..." His life has been changed forever with no recourse. Now what about the people that canít afford a lawyer, what about your son, daughter or grandchild who does something dumb, once, and gets caught, Iím sure teens and young adults would never do anything dumb but it could happen. Do you want them in jail? Do you want their lives ruined forever for an act of stupidity?
I believe that any driver who is obviously having trouble driving should be checked out and helped. Enforcement should pull over a person who has a child running around in their car, driving with a dog in their lap, talking on a cell phone, eating fast food, driving under the influence of a substance, or maybe just old and afraid while driving in our high paced traffic flow, but too proud to relinquish their license, and why should they.
Teens smoking? Educate them. If you make it a crime, they will rebel. Kids donít want to wear safety helmets? Educate them donít alienate them. For this is not (contrary to popular belief) a system of equal justice but rather a system where money, power and prestige are above the law as in the case of O.J. Simpson. While he got away with murder and is now playing the links a less fortunate soul can find themselves ruined for first offence whether guilty or not.
We are currently in a state of mind where we make reactionary laws based on the high pitched squealing of the few. It is a dangerous form of vigilantism. Should we make a law condemning all pedestrians to wear helmets? 78% of pedestrians involved in accidents with cars die of head injuries so why not a law. How about automobile occupants? 63% of all deaths in auto accidents are attributed to head injury. Cell phones are currently involved in auto crashes to the tune of 43% and up in the states that keep statistics on cause. Faulty electrical circuits or electrical products are involved in a very high percentage of all dwelling fires that result in death. Maybe we could have a law to cover that. How about fining people caught outdoors in a lightning storm? Are these the answers?
We need to back off and calm down. There should not be a law to cover every little ill.
99.9% of our children do not blow up their schools. 99.9% of people who fall off bikes do not land on their heads. They skin their hands and knees. As the few continue to try and protect us from ourselves, we find our lives run by pollsters and we donít even get to vote for what we actually want anymore. Democracy is fading. America is coming ever closer to being a police state. It is not that far away, where is there to go from here? People are already being bottle-necked into check points and hearing the words..."Your papers please. Where are you going. Where are you coming from."
When we have turned over all our rights and freedoms in the name of safety, will we then be happy?
Published in a local newspaper guest column by a ...
Virtually Pissed Falcon