Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Rant: Fallout From Gabrielle Giffords Shooting

I enjoy reading law blogs. Most of what I see in the news details abuse of authority by police, prosecutors or both, so I think it's a little refreshing to read about the same or similar events from the other side of the blue wall. Plus it satisfies my sense of fair play. Why must the police sit by quietly while an outspoken few talking heads hog the soapbox? One blog I enjoy is MotorCop If You Got Stopped... You Deserved It who posed an interesting question a few days ago (read about it here) citing a story (click here) about a New Hampshire couple who were rushing to the hospital to have a baby. The baby decided to show up at 3:30 AM, and with the wife about to give birth the husband drove on a highway at speeds of 100 mph. Suffice to say, they made it to the hospital with a police escort and later received a ticket for speeding which the husband is fighting - the ticket will likely cost him his driver's license. I don't bring this up because of the story per se, but because of the comments left on the blog, many of which I believe were left by women. People were horrified that the husband would dare to drive at 100 mph, no matter what the reason. Clearly the man deserves to be crucified and the family sedan run through the car crusher. One silly bitch wrote that she didn't even know a car could go that fast.

For my part, I don't see anything wrong with driving at 100 mph on an empty highway in the wee hours of the morning. It just isn't that big a deal, nor is it a big deal to any of my close friends - all of whom are gun owning, whiskey drinking males who believe in a live and let live society.

Cut to that inimitable misanthropic curmudgeon, Fred Reed, who relates in Conversations With Bob: Free Fall that

“They’re not the same Americans now. They crave authority,” he [Bob - mj] said. “They lust after regulation. They love being frisked, x-rayed, and felt-up at airports because it gives them a false sense of significance.”
Indeed. The belief that if law is good then more law is better permeates the general public and remains as unnoticed as the delicate odor of a badly used athletic supporter in a men's locker room. The thinking (and I use the term very loosely) is that if we are regulated enough and have copious numbers of official security personnel to keep us compliant, Representative Gabrielle Giffords would never have been shot, six people would still be alive and 14 people would not be wounded. That isn't true, but that's the belief.

Consider the example above. I think that it's likely that none of the people complaining bitterly about John Coughlin's driving have ever driven their cars over 70 mph. Furthermore, I think it's almost certain that none of them were sharing the road with John and his wife that morning, yet all of them are howling for the poor man's blood, and the reason is because John brazenly flaunted authority; the very same authority they crave and which they mistakenly believe keeps them safe every day. Not one of these people has considered the autobahn, sections of which have no speed limit. Speeds of 150 mph are not uncommon. Why isn't the autobahn a death trap with multiple fatalities every hour? No one knows, and since these facts do not conform to the theory, they must be disposed of.

As soon as regulation is brought up the knee jerk response is gun control, which is kind of frightening in and of itself. This time the anti-freedom people are beginning to expand into freedom of speech, stating that the inflammatory rhetoric of Rush Limbaugh combined with Sarah Palin's cross hair map pushed this young man over the edge, so clearly we need to dial back political rhetoric and construct some more regulation, just to be on the safe side. This is likely where their new idea will stop. Commercial media has big bucks and a concerned interest in retaining freedom of speech, and the executives are barely bright enough to realize that even if they - large commercial media - were exempted from any legislation restricting certain forms of harmful speech, it still isn't a good idea. It's the beginning of the end, and they know this. So I don't think that it's very likely speech will be restricted this time. Next time might be different.

As for the people involved in all this, I think the author of furthermore, flask summed it up quite nicely in a comment she left on a related post:
...the real problem is not where you stand on the political spectrum, but how far your head is up your ass while you stand there.
So if you Congress critters would be so kind as to get your head out of your ass just long enough to look around and see where you're standing, maybe, just maybe a few of the more blatantly unconstitutional laws can be removed and we can think about being a free country again.

The men who signed the United States Constitution were not warm, kind and caring souls who believed in political correctness for its own sake. They were legitimately tough customers (click here for a list of the signers) who had just come through a war as victors and had to deal with an apathetic populace; contrary to popular belief, most people didn't take an active position in our war for independence. There is no question that these men were exemplary. They were well read, intelligent and willing to work hard for the new nation, but I don't believe any of them fully understood the level of apathy that was prevalent during their time, nor do I think they could guess at the level of apathy we have today. Certainly they would never believe the craving for authority and regulation.


flask said...

aww, it's sweet of you to quote me.

without touching the hot-button topics of gunrights/violence (depending on your political lean) or free speech, i'm going to draw a parallel in how i feel about what i feel is the lamentable state of our drug culture:

i think that drug abuse by adults and drug use by children (i draw this distinction because of the damage that drug use does developmentally even to late adolescents)is bad and dangerous and costly.

i think that a culture that glorifies drug use and makes pop icons out of drug users is only asking for trouble and expense.

i think that the drug trade is what fuels the prison industry and the crime rate and a good deal of the domestic terrorism and violence.

AND i think that with very few exceptions the purchase, possession and use of drugs by adults ought to be LEGAL.

you want to work on the CAUSES of drug culture? i'm with you. you want to pass more laws about it? get bent.

it's kind of like that with gun violence and hate speech and irresponsible politicians saying dumbass stuff with whack-a-loons who take it seriously.

Anonymous said...

Side notes:
The autobahn in 2005 had 662 deaths. A lot if you ask me.

Gun rights: I'm a gun guy, a cop, and my friends all have Ar's, AK's and the like. I however know of no reason, other than just liking them or wanting a cache of guns, a person "needs" to have these powerful pieces of fire power.

Ticketing dad:
I've driven at a top speed of 143 mph. I'm been to many driving schools and consider myself a professional driver. The light on top of my car don't make it easier as people stop in front of me instead of pulling to the side. I can't say I wouldn't have driven fast like dad with baby coming too but as a cop he is getting a ticket no matter what.

Had it been a pursuit, and true bad guy had killed your family, we'd be having the conversation on how the cop is liable for all of this.

This is a piece of junk if you ask me. I think our society are getting to a point where we don't like cops because they limit our freedoms. When if you think of it, if you were allowed to do anything you wanted we have issues like that have in Haiti, Mexico and North Korea.

Don't like cops? Next time you're in troubl, call a crack head then.

Mad Jack said...

Highway Deaths 2005: 33,070. A whole lot more than 662. Just sayin'.

As to gun rights, I'm an extremest. Need has nothing to do with owning a heavy machine gun or Vulcan cannon. I'd own one just to exercise my right to do so, and to cause a little envy at the range once every ten years (ammo cost, you know). Now if you really want to talk about the need to own a battle rifle, look no further than the fallout from hurricane Katrina. Cops confiscated guns from people willing to give them up, not from anyone who threatened to put some lead in the air. The police confiscated those guns illegally, too. Note that I'm not painting every single police force with the New Orleans brush, but I'm damn sure painting the New Orleans PD.

People were handled the same way. Those that could not resist were gathered up and herded into the dome, which was hell on earth in four hours. What wasn't said, and what the people in Florida know for a fact is that when a hurricane comes through if you stay you'll be able to protect your property from the looters that follow the storm. If you leave, you will not be allowed to return to your own home until the local government decides that it's safe. That may be a while. Them as stays is generally armed and standing right next to a sign: You loot, we shoot.

I don't fault the State Trooper for writing the ticket. In my opinion the State Trooper did a great job and you'll never find better. I'm just saying that I, personally, would have written a warning. I also note that the man is fighting the ticket because he could lose his license over it, otherwise I agree that he should just pay up and shut up. What got to me was the nanny state attitude of most comments.

Also this business of holding the police liable in a chase - any chase - is generally so much basic aggravation and political bullshit. The vast majority of these cases should never see press, let alone get into a court room. We, society, want the police to chase and catch the bad guys. I can't find the link right now, but Beat and Release wrote about an extended chase where the criminal tried to wreck him and everyone else on the road. When the chase finally ended, B&R found he had caught a violent criminal wanted for murder. If he hadn't chased and caught, the criminal would continue to rob and kill. The idea that because the police chase the criminals run is stupid. What do you expect the criminals to do? They're criminals! They don't want to get caught! Now, if the police don't chase, or chase and the criminal gets away, that's different. You'll see fleeing criminals all over because, since Pookey and Shaniqua (bad MadJack! Bad! That's profiling!) ahem, got away maybe they can too. Chasing and not catching is a huge mistake.

I like cops just fine. What I object to is not being allowed to defend myself. Like the laws prevent me from doing in Haiti, Mexico and North Korea. And Massachusetts, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York.