Ever so often, I come across an article about traffic violations, some more interesting than others. As long that article has been up for more than a couple of hours, two types of responses almost invariably seem to appear: 1) those from people who see many, if not most (or even all) traffic law enforcement mechanisms as nuisances at best, but most likely fee grabbers and 2) the ones from people who believe that if drivers follow the law, there’s no need to worry about cameras, radar and the like.
While I have to admit my sympathies do lie with the first group, my personal bias is not the main reason that I find the arguments of the latter group bothersome. Rather, it is their implied belief that everyone should unquestioningly accept the actions of the police (and by extension, the government).
Unlike most other breaches of the law, the burden of innocence in the case of traffic violations falls on the accused. Since the people of that second group take the view that anyone who complains about getting a ticket should have just “obeyed the law”, then, using that logic, not only are they taking the law at face value, they are also assuming that the lawmakers, police and their means of enforcement are correct and fair simply because of their collective assumed authority.
It is extraordinarily likely, however, the people who fall under that second category don’t truly believe in government infallibility themselves.
Remember all the commotion and controversy after the 2000 Presidential elections and how they dragged out for weeks afterward? Once Bush was declared the victor, many liberals claimed the election was stolen and Bush was “not their President.” And, of course, this was all before the events nearly a year later. When Bush was re-elected in 2004, many liberals wrote or signed on to asinine letters apologizing for the fact. Throughout his presidency, Democrats questioned his handling of the “War on Terrorism” (that is, once they gathered the fortitude to do so), the “tax cuts for the rich”, and finally the bailout of his corporate cronies… until Obama was elected. Now, we all should accept his plans for health care and to “give him time” to “fix” the economy.
On the other hand, the right-wingers wanted everyone to accept the ruling of the Supreme Court in 2000. When the USA PATRIOT Act was thrust upon us, Republicans claimed anyone who questioned it was threatening national security and “giving aid and comfort to the enemy.” Similar arguments would be made to justify Guantanamo Bay, torturing terrorism suspects and the country’s move toward a national identification card. While many conservatives were lukewarm to the bailouts even when Bush was President, they didn’t become truly vocal in their protest until Obama took office, resorting to pathetic comparisons to Hitler, Mussolini and Marx, despite the fact it was Bush who set precedent for exploding the national budget.
Rare is the person that actually questions both Bush and Obama or, if he happens to be a fan of or voted for either, points out the flaws of his chosen candidate.
Virtually nonexistent, however, is the person who accepts the two equally as authority figures, and, as such, believes the prior administration’s actions in the name of national security and the current administration’s social and economic programs are equally vital and unassailable by the (mere?) common citizen. Yet this is equivalent to what the “follow the law, you won’t get a ticket” crowd wants drivers to do.
Fighting terrorism, the economy and health care are all more important than traffic laws if for no other reason than they all have a greater effect on more people. But if it is acceptable to question the President (at least when he belongs to the other party) on matters supposedly crucial to the country as a whole, why should everyone have to meekly bow to the rules state and local traffic jurisdictions, especially since supposed violators aren’t even given the courtesy of presumed innocence?
There are legitimate reasons to have rules of the road. However, many of the laws are quite arbitrary and selectively enforced. My objection is not to speed limits, but artificially low ones. I am not flat against tickets for violations but rather to governments relying on them as sources of revenue. There is a difference between promoting safety and claiming that laws and enforcement tools are absolutely vital to preventing accidents when most drivers clearly know better.Opinion individual rights, transportation