What I'd like to do first- is to link this story. http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/abc-blogs/texting-while-walking-banned-jersey-town-152720795--abc-news-topstories.html
Most people will read this article and think one of three things. The first reaction will be "good." People need to pay attention while they are walking. The second reaction will be those folks who would never try walking and texting. They view walking and texting as some reckless activity that they would never engage in- therefore they are apathetic or indifferent about it. The cop and government haters will see the law as a conspiracy and revenue source- some secret means to steal money from people.
I see it as all of those things and none of those things. So what I thought I would do is describe the process wherein these crappy ideas gain traction and become law. I have witnessed this stuff first hand for many years. I will say this.
People are terrified to publicly speak out against something when an insurmountable army of opposition has already stormed the hill and taken it. Ultimately- they let it slide rather than risk some public embarrassment. This is how statists keep chipping away at our freedom. They would have a law for everything and never give a second thought to losing freedom. They want to run your life. They think most folks, aside from them of course, are too stupid to conduct themselves properly and they need to give you directions on how to live your life. They use all kinds of rationales and justifications. So here's how a law like the walking and texting law gets legs.
There is always a catalyst. There is always one village idiot who will text and fall down a manhole. Then there are the crusaders. These are people, informal leaders within their communities, that have credibility. They march some data set forward while garnering additional support. Sometimes they show up enmasse. Sometimes they enlist the help of City Attorneys and Police Chiefs. They find and flex whatever "muscle" they can muster. Sometimes they are the Mayor or Councilmembers- always looking for good things to do particularly in election years. Politicians, if they are nothing else, are incredibly aware of how they appear to the public. They might think you have the dumbest idea on the planet- but they will never let you know that. If your idea has any kind of useful merit, or they can personally benefit by supporting it, they will. If you have the greatest idea on the planet- but the public doesn't like it- forget it. Politicians are professional cowards. Trust me, they will not march a cure for cancer forward if they think it will make them look bad.
So once our crappy law has garnered overwhelming support they have three readings and codify the thing. The three things that are almost always ignored when passing knee jerk laws are these. Was the catalyst an isolated incident? (Yes, almost always.) Can we achieve compliance without passing a law (education) and was anyone encouraged to point out the flaws of this new law? (Usually and almost always the answer to part a is yes via education... devils advocates are almost never encouraged to participate, that embarrasses the crusaders) How much is this going to cost to enforce and do we have a mechanism to review it for effectiveness (does it do what it was designed to do) or can we get rid of it at a future date? (Never)
Nobody ever stops to consider the freedom we lose when we pass garbage like this. There is an emotional groundswell, the tail waggers all wag, and voila! New law.
If any of you want to have some fun- pick up a copy of your local city ordinances and read them. You will find laws from the dark ages that nobody has reviewed, laws that have gone unenforced for decades, laws that remain on the books. Up until a few years ago in Moonbat Valley, it was illegal for women to go into bars or for pedestrians to spit on the sidewalk. Trust me when I tell you that the same processes were at work when those laws were passed one hundred years ago- that are still used today.
I absolutely hate the idea of losing my freedom every time some moron steps into a bus while texting. If I want to walk and text- I will. We used to call that freedom. I have actually done it without dying. Let me judge whether it's safe or dangerous. I don't need, nor do I want, a bunch of liberal statists stealing my freedoms and delivering them to the nanny state every time something goes wrong. My opinions and rights are not any less valuable than those of the statists.
Next time you see one of these shitty laws, stop and give it more than a cursory glance. Laws like outlawing happy meals or outlawing volleyball on beaches (California) or making everyone wear a life preserver who gets in the water or helmet laws on bicycles. (Washington St., Seattle) You cannot pump your own gas in Oregon because of one isolated incident. These laws never go away and they cost us money and freedom. Thankfully, the statists can't get a foothold in Idaho so I am insulated from their opinions on how the world should be run. At least for now.