Dead Kids Make Bad Laws

New Jersey may soon repeal one of the most onerous driving restrictions in the country. That doesn’t mean legislators have learned their lesson.

In New Jersey, “probationary” drivers younger than 21 must display red, reflective decals on the front and rear license plates of any vehicle they operate. Are these motorists on probation for driving drunk, recklessly, or otherwise in contravention of the law? No: They’re on probation simply for being under 21.

The Garden State’s Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program, established in 2001, affects all new drivers below drinking age in their first full year behind the wheel. Probationary license holders have a midnight driving curfew, are prohibited from driving with more than one nonrelated passenger, and are issued specially marked licenses that advertise their ineligibility to purchase alcohol.

But these restrictions, already among the most stringent in the country, did not go far enough for state legislators. So in April 2009 they approved Kyleigh’s Law—the first bill of its kind in the United States—by sweeping bipartisan majorities, including a unanimous vote of 78 to 0 in the New Jersey Assembly. The law was named for 16-year-old Kyleigh D’Alessio, who was killed in a 2006 car accident that seems to have been the result of a friend’s distracted driving. In her name, New Jersey teenagers now must broadcast their ages while on the road. They are also forbidden to use wireless headsets, which are legal for everyone else, and their driving curfew has been moved up to 11 p.m.

D’Alessio’s mother, Donna Weeks, was heavily involved in lobbying for the legislation. Weeks attended hearings in the statehouse, met with then-Gov. Jon Corzine, and cast a symbolic vote for the bill on behalf of its chief sponsor, Assemblyman Peter Barnes (D-Middlesex). Asked whether Weeks’ presence might have encouraged otherwise skeptical lawmakers to withhold their dissent, for fear of offending Kyleigh’s memory, Barnes replies: “I think it’s a fair comment. Sometimes a legislator just wants to help.”

Then something unusual happened: New Jersey residents began fighting back against the underage driving sticker. Kyleigh’s Law has proven unpopular not just with young drivers but with many of their parents. But the adults’ opposition does not stem from an objection to intrusive for-the-children legislative hysteria. It reflects a semi-hysterical for-the-children fear of their own: that teen drivers, once identified as such, would become targets of predators.

A counternarrative developed almost immediately after the restrictions were passed. Some young people did raise well-founded questions about the law, such as whether the highest-risk drivers were likely to forego using the decals, undermining the policy’s public safety goals. But hypothetical horror stories were more common. Go to Facebook and you’ll find plenty of groups with names like “Kyleigh’s Law lets creepers know I’m young and alone.”

Assemblyman Robert Schroeder (R–Bergen), who wasn’t in the state legislature when Kyleigh’s Law was passed, is now among its most visible critics. “It only takes one incident,” he says, “and that incident could turn into a tragedy.” Schroeder introduced a bill to repeal the decal provision less than two weeks after it came into effect in May 2010, and at least 13 assemblymen who initially voted for that provision have become co-sponsors. “At the time, both sides thought it was a pretty good idea,” says Assemblywoman Joan Voss (D-Bergen), one of the 13. “And after a while, I was getting calls to my office from parents who were absolutely irate. They were worried about pedophiles going after their children.”

Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris), who says he was originally wary of Kyleigh’s Law but eventually supported it out of deference to a trusted colleague, calls it one of the few votes in his career that he came to regret. “I should have listened to my kids,” Carroll admitted. “Sometimes, we legislate in a hustle and repent at leisure.”

The Decal Rebellion

Gregg Trautmann, a Morris County attorney, has challenged Kyleigh’s Law in New Jersey Superior Court as a violation of the federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, which forbids any Department of Motor Vehicles from disclosing the personal information of license holders. Trautmann’s real impetus for taking on the law, however, was a visceral aversion to what he said it represents: a capricious wielding of state power that could lead to real harm. Using his son and nephew as plaintiffs—both were 17 at the time—he started drafting a brief in early 2009. “The day after it passed, we filed,” he says. “Just to say, ‘Screw you, government.’ ” The suit was dismissed last March and again on appeal in October 2010 and in February 2011.

Assemblyman Schroeder, by contrast, does not think the legislature fundamentally overreached with the decal requirement, or that regulations governing teenage driving are overly burdensome. Quite the opposite. When he introduced a supplemental bill in September, it didn’t just repeal the decal requirement; it actually went further than Kyleigh’s Law by making parents financially culpable for their children’s noncompliance with GDL restrictions. “No driver shall receive a probationary license,” the bill reads, unless a parent or guardian “pledges, via handwritten signature, to accept responsibility for enforcing these laws and conditions as they pertain to the applicant.” In other words, if a probationary driver breaks the 11 p.m. curfew, his or her parents face an additional fine of their own—even if the driver in question is 20. Schroeder tells me this provision is meant to “shift the responsibility” for educating new drivers about GDL restrictions to parents and away from the state. His proposal is still awaiting a hearing in the transportation committee.

Schroeder couldn’t produce any documented reports of the decals leading to harassment, though he did offer some anecdotes. For example, he tells me, last summer a teenage girl was followed off the Garden State Parkway, though no direct connection between the decals and the incident was established. Throughout our conversation, Schroeder suggested that his office has received a slew of substantiated complaints from constituents, but a staffer later tells me their only information came from the same press reports everyone else has been reading. “We haven’t spoken to anybody that’s actually made a complaint,” the aide says.

Violet Marrero, a spokesperson for the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety and a supporter of Kyleigh’s Law, calls the oft-repeated predator objection a “false argument,” noting that no police reports of such incidents have been filed. Nevertheless, many parents are so unnerved that they’ve discovered a newfound penchant for civil disobedience. Linda Gianni, a mother of two young drivers who spoke at one of Assemblyman Schroeder’s anti–Kyleigh’s Law press conferences last June, says she drives with the decals on her car just to confuse people who might be on the lookout for them. She adds that she’d rather pay a $100 fine for noncompliance than instruct her daughters to put a “target” on their vehicles. “You’re risking their lives,” she tells me. At the press conference, Gianni claimed her daughter was trailed one morning while driving home from a sleepover. She traveled down a few county roads before managing to lose the alleged stalker. “I will never forget the fear and panic on her face,” Gianni told reporters. But once again, no link between the decals and the incident was ever established. Gianni later tells me, “I won’t deny that it could have been a coincidence.”

For another tale of decal-related trouble, Schroeder puts me in touch with Woodcliff Lakes Police Chief Anthony Jannicelli, who wrote the assemblyman to report an incident he experienced firsthand. Jannicelli, whose teenage son occasionally uses his Chevy Tahoe, said the decals usually stay on the car regardless of who is driving. One day, the chief was on his way to work, and somebody in front of him was speeding like a maniac. Jannicelli signaled his disapproval with a stern beep, and at the next traffic light, the speeder leapt out of his car in the middle of the road and began to approach the chief’s vehicle. Based on the decals, Jannicelli reckoned, the guy must have assumed he was about to chew out a lowly teenager; the Tahoe’s windshield is high and usually obscured by glare, so from street level it’s hard to tell who is behind the wheel. Needless to say, Mr. Road Rage quickly backed off after discovering that he was about to confront a uniformed police officer, but the episode left Jannicelli convinced that the decals are a safety hazard. “If it was my son in the car and not me,” he says, “my feeling is this guy probably would have come back and had a fist fight.”

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  • Again||

    There should be a law for commenting at H&R. But who to name it after? Does he have to be dead? Or just a crackpot?

  • H&R Legislator||

    I've proposed the lonewacko law.

  • Wind Rider||

    Yeah, 'The Epi Bill' just doesn't quite "sing", does it?

  • Random Reader||

    Dondero's Law?

  • Some Guy||

    In fact, if a teenager is likely to be followed by anyone, it’s a police officer, not some crazed miscreant—and legislators don’t seem to have a problem with that.

    Who says that those are mutually exclusive?

  • Jeff||

    No one. And I'm sure the fact that gun possession is essentially illegal in the state doesn't make this type of situation any more likely. Pull that shit on me and you'll be looking down the barrel of a 1911.

  • Jeff||

    No one. And I'm sure the fact that gun possession is essentially illegal in the state doesn't make this type of situation any more likely. Pull that shit on me and you'll be looking down the barrel of a 1911.

  • ||

    Up next, mandatory "baby on board" signs for soccer moms.

  • Realist||

    I thought that was already law.

  • Seer||

    Law of nature, but what good is a law if it's not codified.

  • ||

    All these laws and others like them (seat belt, car seat laws and such) are is just an excuse for cops to pull over young people, black people (young black people double bonus) and other undesirables at will. The cop pulls over a black person in the wrong neighborhood and can just say "he looked under 21 and didn't have a probationary plate".

  • ||

    And thus it is no coincidence that this law was passed in New Jersey, the state most notorious for racial profiling.

  • MNG||

    No fan of Jersey, but I think it is the most "notorious" for profiling because it actually looked into it.

  • ||

    Whatever gets you through the night here MNG.

  • MNG||

    Jersey had extensive investigations and data collection on the issue because, well, they were concerned about it. If you have some kind of evidence that racial profiling is more a of problem in Jersey (or NY which also addressed it) than in Alabama or Georgia, which have not really looked into it, produce it or STFU.

  • ||

    Nearly every state in the union has laws on the subject.

    http://www.racialprofilinganal.....istory.php

  • MNG||

    That's nice John, but I didn't mention that. NJ made news for collecting data, investigating the issue, holding hearings and such. That's why they are famous for it.

  • ||

    Every other state seems to be doing the same. Yet, there doesn't seem to be another state that has been so scandalized as New Jersey.

  • MNG||

    See John, when an agency investigates a problem publicly they are going to get more noticed for that problem. Of course they are doing the correct thing by looking into it, but there are people out there who will make this simple, pre-undergraduate mistake anyway.

    And has every state looked into it like NJ? C'mon, surely newsbusters.breitbart has something to support your hasty assertion?

  • ||

    Read the link I gave you. It is a list of all the states that have laws requiring such study and reporting. I don't know what else to tell you. When you pass a law that requires reporting on the racial make up and stops and arrest, you are most definitely looking into the matter.

  • MNG||

    Why don't you just admit you don't know much about this. NJ had a crusading attorney general and ACLU chapter along with a Democratic legislature that went all out looking into this, they got Reno's justice department involved, everything. The data collection was a model.

  • MNG||

    Did you even look at your own link? It indicates that Georgia and Alabama have "no activity" in this area! It also shows that each state has different provisions regarding this.

    Nice try Brietbart, careful analysis there!

  • ||

    Do you honestly buy into the weirdo idea that cops in say Boston or Chicago are somehow less racist and less generally assholes than cops in Birmingham or Charlotte? Is it ever not going to be 1963 in MNG world?

  • MNG||

    Nice try John, I didn't say they were less or more racist, YOU said NJ has some unique problem and I said there is no proof of that.

  • ||

    Considering their scandals and the fact that most other states are reporting on such issues but don't have scandals is a pretty good indication that yes they did at least at one time have a unique problem.

  • MNG||

    Bad logic, but worse, once again, where is your proof other states are as extensively looking into the issue?

    brietbart.newsbusters.pajamas!

  • MNG||

    By your logic if a new Sheriff comes in and investigates police brutality in an attempt to curb it, finds some and deals with it, that agency had a unique problem with police brutality.

    Fail, John. Just admit it and walk away, there are other things for you to be wrong about today.

  • ||

    where is your proof other states are as extensively looking into the issue?

    The link I provided listing the large number of states that have passed laws requiring local police to track the racial makeup of their arrests and stops.

  • sarcasmic||

    "YOU said NJ has some unique problem"

    No he didn't.

    He said NJ was most notorious.

    no·to·ri·ous/nəˈtôrēəs/
    Adjective: Famous or well known, typically for some bad quality or deed.

    I fail to see what is wrong with John's statement.

  • MNG||

    Yeah because there was no implication that the notoriety was deserved (see his post above the one where he used the word).

  • sarcasmic||

    "Yeah because there was no implication that the notoriety was deserved"

    So what? Pointing out that the notoriety exists (which is does) does not require proving that it is deserved.

  • John busy googling||

    c'mon, c'mon, there has to be something to confirm my hasty judgment! c'mon pajamas.newsbusters.townhall.com, don't fail me now!

  • -||

    John and MNG argue like an old married couple who hate each other but can't live without each other. It usually ends in murder or murder/suicide. I'm rooting for the latter.

  • ||

    Could be worse. We could be Episiarch and Rather. They really are an old married couple.

  • MNG||

    Yeah, sorry for my bellicosity. I think there is no support for the idea that NJ is more notorious for racial profiling for any reason other than they looked into it, but I should have left the disagreement there.

  • ||

    "But the South!" is not an argument.

  • MNG||

    It's a good thing that wasn't my argument then, it was that the reason NJ is notorious for profiling is that it was the most thoroughly investigated there. It's just logic 101 that this doesn't mean it's got a worse problem.

    It's like people saying that areas with high arrest rates must have high crime rates. The two ain't the same thing.

  • ||

    Georgia and Alabama were merely a gratuitous misdirection then?

  • sarcasmic||

    Seriously MNG, do you know what notorious means?

    I pasted the definition above.

    Having notoriety does not require that the notoriety be deserved.

    Are you arguing against NJ being notorious for profiling, or that NJ does not deserve to be notorious for profiling?

    Whether or not NJ is deserving of being notorious for profiling does not affect the fact that it is notorious for profiling.

    Holy shit you're thick.

  • MNG||

    MNG|5.24.11 @ 8:10AM|#
    No fan of Jersey, but I think it is the most "notorious" for profiling because it actually looked into it.

    I answered this here. John's first post on this was "this kind of thing is an excuse for cops to pull over and harrass blacks." Then he added "no wonder this was done in NJ which is notorious for racial profiling."

    Then I posted the above. So yes, from the beginning I've said it is an unfair notoriety.

  • sarcasmic||

    I can't think of anything in life that is fair, so boo fucking hoo.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Speaking as someone whose brother has been a NJ State Trooper for 23 years, I can say that NJ's notoriety for racial profiling is NOT undeserved.

  • Yawn||

    God, that exchange was boring.

  • -||

    Could be worse. We could be Episiarch and Rather

    Excellent point.
    [shudder]

  • ||

    Hate speech!

  • ||

    murder/suicide...but which will be which?

  • ||

    There was a famous incident where 4 hispanic youths were pulled over and shot by troopers for, ostensibly, being hispanic, since there was nothing else they were doing wrong. In his panic, the driver took his foot off the brake and the car was in reverse, not park, and the van started to back up over a trooper. OK, so I can see why the troopers would see that as aggression in a snap-decision situation, but it started a wave of investigation, protest, and litigation that led to NJ being a groundbreaker in researching its racial profiling policies.

    That is not to say that all racial profiling is wrong. If you are looking for a black man and you pull over a black man, you are profiling, based on info about a potential perp. Pulling over random blacks/hispanics just because is wrong, but sometimes you have to use the evidence before your eyes, including skin color (abhorrent as that might be to some), to help you get your man.

  • ||

    ""If you are looking for a black man and you pull over a black man, you are profiling, ""

    Looking for a suspect to a crime - not profiling.

    Looking for a crime based on how someone looks - profiling.

  • sarcasmic||

    Q: Why are people in NYC always so pissed off?

    A: You would be too if the light at the end of the tunnel was New Jersey.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    John and MNG in happier times.

  • sarcasmic||

    IT'S FOR TEH CHILDRENZ!!!11!!!1!!!1!

  • ||

    The talk about the safety hazard of these things just made me realize something. The next time I see someone with one of those annoying "baby on board" signs (of which there are still a few) I am going to tell them "you shouldn't have that on your car it just lets pedophiles know there are children in your house or where your children live after they follow you home". And then watch their face as the two conflicting paranoias war it out in the psychy.

    Why didn't I think of this before now?

  • ||

    awesome

  • sarcasmic||

    My wife said something similar as we were behind an SUV that had those familiar stickers on the rear window of stick figures representing parents, kids and pets. It's like, "Hey pedophiles! We've got two boys and three daughters! Come join the party!"

  • ||

    This was a plot point in an episode of Dexter.

  • Rev. Blue Moon||

    We can call the repealing legislation "Trinity's Law".

  • puppyphile||

    Did someone say pets?

  • Cop||

    We call them "targets."

  • T||

    We've been making that point for years. The best are the activity stickers. Not only do you know the kid's name, you know where they're gonna be in the afternoon.

  • Robert||

    What are those?

  • ||

    Beautiful!

  • Robert||

    I never got the point of those signs anyway. Are they just bragging, or do they think other drivers won't hit your vehicle so hard if they know you have a baby on board?

  • Sleeping Dog||

    My psychology professor theorized that "parents" suffer from a chemical form of brain damage and it's hard for me to disagree when I keep seeing things like "it's for the children" bullshit laws!

  • ||

    That is a good theory except that rich western parents seem to be the only ones who suffer from it.

  • Ted S.||

    I oppose all proposed legislation named "[Jane's] Law" (insert appropriate name in the brackets) on principle. In addition to being bad legislation in many cases, such naming is deliberate in its attempt to bully anybody who might oppose the legislation.

    The people who propose such legislation claim to care about the children, but in fact they're teaching children a terrible lesson: that the way to get what you want is to bully people and get them not to think, but to emote. (It's unsurprising, but once again the biggest bullies are the government bullies.)

  • ||

    But if my child dies in a tragic accident doesn't that give me the right to bully and oppress everyone else over my pet issue?

  • MNG||

    Jesus I think we can disagree with the laws without demonizing parents who have tragically lost their children.

  • sarcasmic||

    But if you disagree with the law then you are disrespecting the parents who lost their children.

    Any disagreement with a reactionary law means you hate children.

    Why do you hate the children?

  • MNG||

    I agree naming the bill after a kid is a cheap way to get support for it, but I don't blame parents. It's natural for those who tragically lose a child to want to make sure something similar never happens to another family. Of course it is also natural for people suffering such a tragedy to not be thinking straight and we should all keep that in mind when these bills are offered. But it's uncool to attack the parent.

  • Rev. Blue Moon||

    Christina's Green dad managed to hold it together and keep perspective, remember?

    "This shouldn't happen in this country or anywhere else, but in a free society, we're going to be subject to people like this," Green said. "So I prefer this to the alternative."

    I know, MNG, that this guy is probably "stupid" according to your stunted utilitarian ethics, but some people can act like adults in the face of tragedy.

  • Highway||

    Then they should not try to bully everyone. And they should not try to use their sudden victim status as, alternately, a fulcrum and a bludgeon to get terrible laws passed. Or, alternatively, they shouldn't let grandstanding politicians exploit their loss into creating ham-handed legislation that does nothing but infringe on everyone else. In nearly every case, legislation named after someone wouldn't have actually stopped what harmed them anyway.

    Don't want to be attacked? Then don't go on a crusade.

  • T||

    Bullshit. You're not special just because a tragedy happened to you. Don't want me to attack your asinine opinion and idiot attempt to pass a law? Stay home and grieve in private. Don't try to implement tyranny because of your tragedy.

  • Quiet_Desperation||

    Why do you hate the children?

    Because they are loud, stupid and sticky?

    Honestly, pedophiles, what's the attraction??

  • Reformed Republican||

    It is not demonizing parents who lost children. It is demonizing parents who lost children and use that as an excuse to bully and oppress everyone else, or who allow politicians to use them for the same.
    There are parents whose children die tragically who do not try to get laws passed as a result.

  • Highway||

    Doh, you said almost exactly what I did before I did. Sorry about that.

  • Edwin||

    Jesus Christ do you guys have some fierce aspberger's; demonizing parents who have lost children just for trying to help prevent same in the future.

    You do realize most people would hate you for such talk, right? You do realize most people would consider you assholes?

  • puppyphile||

    Someone did! Someone did say pet!

  • ||

    A shocking amount of legislation is enacted that arises from something personally affecting a legislator or some one-off incident. Look at federal privacy law, for instance. Judge Bork's video-viewing habits become an issue in his hearings, and Congress enacts a law making those types of records private. I don't think they did that to protect the judge, either.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    L.A. Mayor Villarigosa was riding his bike and someone drove too close to him so he passed the "three foot law" which is not practical on most streets.

  • ||

    Everyone who disagrees with you suffers from a brain disorder.

  • ||

    It's not chemical brain damage, it's sleep deprivation psychosis. If Gitmo detainees were subjected to the same treatment that the parents of a nine-month-old baby endure even John Yoo would call it torture.

  • Razor Ray||

    As an ex-lifelong resident of the Garden State I will state, unequivocally, that the legislator will do ANYTHING to NOT have to govern in that state. A few years ago they were considering making it illegal to smoke a cigarette while driving! WTF? You wanna laugh, the state is loathsome of those who speak on their phones while they drive and they force police officers to write tickets to everyone BUT themselves for the infraction. The blind in this nation are crying for the blow hard governor of the state to run for president, but if you look at his record to date, he's just that, a BLOWHARD! Hell, you can't even get a gun legally in the state unless your mother birthed a silver spoon or blew an assemblyman.

  • ||

    I am starting to think Christie only looks good because the state he is in is so bad. I mean if your main competition is Dave Corzine, being able to feed yourself will make you look like a super star.

  • Dave Corzine||

    I'll take on Christie any day in a game of one-on-one. How can a chubby governor take on an ex-NBA player!

  • ||

    Getting a gun here isn't that hard, but it is certainly more difficult than in many other places. But it is getting more difficult to find someone with an FFL to do cross-state transfers and purchases. And the transportation laws are fuzzy. I just changed addresses and was told that getting my new FID card could take up to 6 months - really? So they could type my new address on a different card? So technically, I have illegal guns in my house, since where the guns are doesn't match the address on my card. Perfect excuse for them to move in and take them, I guess. *gotta stop with this paranoid line of thought*

  • Razor Ray||

    Depends where in the state one resides. The closer you are to the "inner" city (NJ code for "Black people live here") the longer the wait and the scrutiny and the "made up" restrictions.

  • George V||

    "inner" city (NJ code for "Black people live here")
    ______________________

    I believe that is true no matter where one lives.

  • Nipplemancer||

    Too true. I live in Sussex Co. and my nearest FFL is also the closest business to my house out here in the sticks. I have to drive further to get booze & smokes than I do to get guns & ammo.

  • sarcasmic||

    "A few years ago they were considering making it illegal to smoke a cigarette while driving! WTF? "

    In Maine they recently passed a law making it a crime to smoke in a vehicle if there is a minor present.

    It's for the children.

    If you disagree with the law then you hate the children.

    Why do you hate the children?

  • ||

    ""If you are looking for a black man and you pull over a black man, you are profiling, ""

    Mike Huckabee got a that law passed in Arkansas

  • ||

    Didn't they do this in Keyport? Don't know if it got passed or not.

  • How About||

    John's Law: Restricts commentators to 500 opinions per day.

  • ||

    It wouldn't be any fun if it wasn't for you ananopussy.

  • J[o]h[nn]y L[o][n]gt[o]rs[o]||

    Do Golden Girls links count against my 500 post limit?

  • How About||

    No. Links are not technically opinions. It's a loophole.

    And John, by my count you have 452 opinions remaining. Use them wisely.*

    *A joke.

  • ||

    When I was teaching last year, the kids in school were up in arms about this. Not so much about the pedo issue, which is trotted out by parents more than anyone else, but as a civil liberties issue. They would say "if we aren't really trusted to drive, then don't let us drive." Not that any of them wanted to give up their privileges, but they could see that the stickers, etc. was just another excuse to get them under the watchful eye and pressing thumb of government.

    I call these laws "Dead White Girl Laws" because most/all of them are only named after DWGs. Parents who want to force the rest of us to publicly grieve with them over private and yes, tragic issues - no parent wants to bury her child - are not doing the memory of their children any service. The sympathy erodes as the liberties become restricted.

  • ||

    Sadly some people don't deal well with the random nature of tragedy. They always think something horrible could have been prevented if only we had done "X". And of course making sure the rest of us are forced to do "x" becomes their way of grieving.

  • ||

    Which is exactly why sympathy for them erodes. The further removed you are from a situation, the less you are affected by it. While I can sympathize with Alessio's feelings over losing her kid, I can't let it affect my daily life forever and ever, they way it will affect her. I understand wanting a lasting memorial to someone who was precious (to her), but humans have to be able to move on from tragedy or we would never accomplish anything, period. Making these laws really just keeps the tragedy in front of (some of) us forever, and cripples the ability to grieve and move on. There is never any closure if you're always reminded of the tragedy.

  • sarcasmic||

    Someone put fresh flowers on one of those crosses on the side of the road that I assume represents where an accident occurred that killed a child.

    Such things annoy me.

    I guess that means I hate the children.

    Why do I hate the children?

  • ||

    I find those wildly creepy. A childhood friend of mine was killed in a car wreck when I was in college. For years I avoided the place where it happened. I can't imagine going there and putting up flowers every month.

  • ||

    Kentucky is covered in them. Covered.

  • ||

    So are a lot of other places. Thirty years ago Bob Dylan called it.

    Disillusioned words like bullets bark
    As human gods aim for their mark
    Make everything from toy guns that spark
    To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
    It’s easy to see without looking too far
    That not much is really sacred.

    We have a seriously warped sense of the sacred in this society.

  • ||

    Kentucky is also full of shit drivers with delusions of NASCAR stardom. Coincidence? Ever try to buy car insurance in KY?

  • ||

    I deal with property and casualty insurance in 40 states. KY has the dumbest insurance laws in America.

  • Jess Asken||

    Has anyone ever been hit by a car while in the act of maintaining a roadside shrine?

  • ||

    I have seen a double shrine, but it was unclear what lead to it.

    But it stands to reason that the odds would say yes. The place of an accident is proven to be a stretch of road that someone had a problem negotiating.

  • ||

    I would think the bigger danger is someone swerving to avoid a hazard and hitting a roadside shrine. In the past, some of those things have been behemoths, well capable of killing or seriously injuring the unfortunate driver who hits one. Though in recent years DOTs have gotten serious about destroying them on sight.

  • ||

    When I was in Cabo, I saw a lot of those. I wonder if it started in Mexico?

  • ||

    Having lived more thn one place, I can say these shrines are everywhere. Whereas in Ohio, Virginia and Georgia, they tend to be small wooden crosses with the name of the deceased written on it, in California, they are frequently larger and made of concrete or stone. Out here, you can tell the ones from Mexicans because they are usually adorned with pictures, candles, flowers and stuffed animals, often stretching for 10 yards or so. I honestly believe it's a cultural thing.

    Seriously, these things need to come down as they are distractions to drivers on the road.

    That said, I am much less offended by the roadside shrines than I am the (Taxpayer-paid-for) DOT signs declaring the "Patrolman Joe Bagadonuts Highway" or the "Officer Slappy McDicktits Memorial Freeway."

    I think every person who is wrongfully killed by a cop should get a stretch of freeway currently named for a cop renamed in their honor. Anyone else on here want to see the "Oscar Grant Memorial Highway" going into Frisco?

  • SFC B||

    When I lived in AZ there was a young woman killed in a car accident along my route home. Every month for 4 years someone would refresh the altar erected where this woman died. I do not exaggerate either. It was an altar, complete with candles, a painting for a saint, flowers, the whole nine yards. This had to be a sizable portion of the persons budget to go out and refresh the consumables at this site.

    It was creepy.

  • sarcasmic||

    I recall Peoples Republic of Boulder Colorado banning roadside crosses on the grounds that crosses being put onto public land violated the separation of church and state.

  • ||

    It's not that but one could argue it is littering.

  • ||

    road side crosses: fools names like fools faces, always seen in public places...
    doughnuts to dollars, bet these cross erectors and shrine placers are the first ones in line for the Enquirer...
    why do cemeteries exist? please keep your grief private like your cell phone calls...

  • ||

    Sadly some people don't deal well with the random nature of tragedy. They always think something horrible could have been prevented if only we had done "X". And of course making sure the rest of us are forced to do "x" becomes their way of grieving.

    Apply this logic to the 9/11 families and nearby mayors and you'll gain my respect.

  • Geoff||

    You can extend the offer to the US legislative and executive branch on behalf of the PATRIOT act.

  • jacob||

    +100

  • ||

    It was always drinking laws that were the camel's nose in this deal. Once you no longer had all the rights of a citizens at 18, but all the responsibilities, an imbalance was created that gave busybodies a crack in the door.

    This illustrates the problem of majority rule without minority protections. Because 18 to 21-year-olds can vote, they have a "say" in the matter, so who gives a fuck what happens to them, amirite?

  • Razor Ray||

    Agreed! I've a 15 year old and if they wanted to drive around alone at 18 or 19 or 20 I don't see an issue with it. I mean, they can be shipped off to die for the oil which helps make the auto run b ut they can't drive the auto???

    Run Christie, Run!!! Show the rest of America how a gestapo like legislature in your home state of NJ can be good on a national stage.

  • Rude Girl||

    It started with the camel's nose, and now we're getting the cameltoe.

  • J[o]h[nn]y L[o][n]gt[o]rs[o]||

    "Dead White Girl Laws" would be a great album name.

  • ||

    "Dead White Girls" would be a great name for a riot grrl band. Their stage names could all be Kaylie.

  • ||

    Kyleigh, Megan, Jessica, and Nik

  • ||

    Tiffany.

  • J[o]h[nn]y L[o][n]gt[o]rs[o]||

    Then she'll just wind up doing bad movies on the SyFy channel.

  • ||

    Only after she gets kicked out of the band for doing heroin and going to rehab first.

  • Really? ||

    Madison.

  • ||

    I'm filing the copyright.

  • Post-Coital Rat||

  • Rich||

    "I've heard some pretty stupid shit in my time, but that has to take the cake," said Dr. Anderson Hunt, the attending physician.

    The Onionhu akbar.

  • EcoDude||

    Win!

  • Rich||

    questions about the law, such as whether the highest-risk drivers were likely to forego using the decals

    With all due respect, the "highest-risk" are likely to [puts editorial hat on] forgo obeying *any* law.

  • J[o]h[nn]y L[o][n]gt[o]rs[o]||

    Why do Dead White Girls always result in more govt power and never in restricting govt power? Does govt never kill white girls?

  • ||

    Lack of adequate government action and protection kills Dead White Girls. We need more government intervention to protect our Dead White Girls.

  • ||

    Isn't it impossible kill a dead white girl?

  • T||

    Zombie White Girl disagrees with your assertion and would like your brain.

  • ||

    The White Girls that government kills have it coming.

  • J[o]h[nn]y L[o][n]gt[o]rs[o]||

    Didn't Ted Kennedy kill a white girl?

  • ||

    She had it coming. How dare she get in a car with a man destined to be in government.

  • ||

    Now there is a title for the Dead White Girls debut EP. We need to start having auditions. This could be bigger than the Monkeys.

  • ||

    As a piece of satirical performance art, this could have real value.

    Of course, the cries of "tasteless scorn for grieving parents" yada yada would shut the operation down immediately. YouTube would never allow the vids.

  • ||

    Nancy Grace is still on the air.

  • ||

    There's something massively significant about that fact. Like on a global level.

  • ||

    No publicity is ever bad publicity. And nothing sells records like parents telling their kids they can't have it. There are entire music careers based on the desire of teenagers to shock their parents. If it worked for Marilyn Manson, it can work for us.

  • Really? ||

    Does govt never kill white girls?

    I heard all of the White Girls called off of work on 9/11.

  • Dead White Girl||

    Avenge me!! AVENGE ME!!!!!!

  • J[o]h[nn]y L[o][n]gt[o]rs[o]||

    I find any thread can be improved by "Red Dawn" refs.

  • ||

    That was from Spiderman.

  • ||

    they're all Dead Dave, Dave they're all Dead...

  • Cop||

    Not only were you four girls not wearing safety restraints, you were driving a British car.

  • ||

    And I'm pretty sure the one behind the wheel is missing a chromosome... possibly two.

  • Cop||

    I'm Down with that.

  • ||

    I noticed that to. The other three are perfect cute white girls and the one behind the wheel doesn't seem right. Why are the hot popular girls hanging out with her letalone letting her drive the car?

  • Rev. Blue Moon||

    She's the one who owns the car, John. Duh.

  • ||

    Maybe it's a postal truck.

  • Rev. Blue Moon||

    It's the short bus. In socialist England, each special child gets issued three friends by the National Friend Service.

  • Colonel_Angus||

    I searched for "National Friend Service" and found a website supporting national service.

  • ||

    You can pretty much take it for granted that any law named after someone is a bad law and knee jerk in nature.

  • Silver Fang||

    I think grief legislation is bad because it's based on transient emotions rather than concrete logic. Politicians, hungry for votes, pander to grief stricken parents to make it look like they care about children and youth. Meanwhile, the children and youth, who can't vote, are used as political footballs.

  • -||

    I believe they call it "pandering." It's the second-oldest profession.

  • Wind Rider||

    why do you hate teh Children™?

    None of you slackers seems to be touching this (well, maybe Warty, but not the way I mean)

    - They take too long to housebreak

    - They will throw up on you

    - They provide one more annoying excuse for petty officials (school prinicipals) to call your house when they burn shit down.

    - Generally loud and obnoxious at the worst times

    - Incite peer and family pressure for you to actually buy things for them with your money

    I'm sure there are plenty of other reasons folks regret the 'practice to have them, but give them back to their parents' approach.

  • Hobie Hanson||

    Banning children: yet another stupid libertarian idea. Pot doesn't do anything for the future of our species and country, but you guys want to legalize that. Start thinking for a change.

  • SFC B||

    That buzzing sound in your ears is the concept flying right by you.

  • sarcasmic||

    My only problem with children is that they turn into adults.

  • Mrs. Conclusion||

    You will need to ban alcohol as well.

  • Neal||

    Is it illegal to put a non-DOT/DMV issued red sticker on your license plate in NJ? In protest, every car owner in the state should do this.

  • ||

    It would be nice to see that kind of no-cost solidarity against bad laws.

    In the absence of that, every teenager should put the stickers on 10 random cars a week until the law is repealed.

  • Average Soccer Mom||

    I likes me some pandering.

  • Christ on a Cracker||

    So, what happens with the 18~20 yo adult who has parents like me who won't sign a thing for my adult offspring? Gifts, maybe, legal commitments, no. She's SOL, I guess.

  • ||

    Or even better, what happens if your parents die when you're 18? You can't be adopted at that point, so there's no one to sign the permission slip.

  • Christopher Reeve||

    Everyone should wear a helmet while on horseback too.

  • ||

    I couldn't read it; do these people do anything but conjure up dire worst-case scenarios? People who grew up reading fairy tales about being boiled by witches and eaten by monsters never suffered from this much baseless paranoia.

    HINT- the monster is YOU!

  • JD||

    I'm trying to decide who is more deserving of mockery in this story--the legislators who make adults mark their car so they are singled out by law enforcement because they are under an arbitrary age, or the bedwetters who worry about TEH PERVERTS!!!1! who will follow their precious snowflakes because they have a red sticker on their license plate (but apparently are incapable of looking in the window to see if it is actually a kid driving).

  • ||

    One day, the chief was on his way to work, and somebody in front of him was speeding like a maniac. Jannicelli signaled his disapproval with a stern beep

    If someone in front of you is "speeding like a maniac", how in the world will you be close enough to them that they can hear your horn? Unless you're speeding like a maniac too, that is.

  • ||

    Apparently you are unfamiliar with NJ residents' propensity to casually exaggerate everything. Like, literally, EVERYTHING!

  • ||

    An NRA sticker next to the provisional driver sticker should clamp down on the road rage.

  • ||

    Those guys seem to know exactly what the deal is. Wow.

    www.privacy-online.us.tc

  • ||

    signaled his disapproval with a stern beep

    I'll see your beep, and raise you one obscene gesture.

  • Ted S.||

  • cynical||

    Of course it's fucking middle class protestant white women's kids that prompt this shit. Poor people, minorities, catholics, etc. all have the fucking sense to make spares. Fucking lazy ass white women. They should sell their uterus to someone that will actually use it.

  • ||

    They almost always give 'em some smarmy name, Jon Benet somesuch, and dress 'em up to look like 6 yr old hookers. Then strangle 'em when the b.j. is substandard. Outlaw middle class protestant white women I say.

  • Robert||

    How easy is it to affix & remove these decals? Didn't someone realize that was going to be a problem where various people drive one vehicle? Or where one person drives various vehicles?

  • Slippery Slope||

    Just wait until they pass the "Dead White Transgender Gay Teenager Protection Bill".

  • RyanXXX||

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05......html?_r=1

    ^The disgusting David Brooks wishes for an elite club to run American politics, like in Britain. He's tired of the riff-raff. (Greenwald has a great takedown of this bullshit at Salon)

  • JD||

    Do the Jews count?

  • Auntie Semitic||

    Don't they already run American politics?

    *ducks*

  • ||

    Where I live, the voters approved "safety" cameras because a woman's son was assaulted in a parking garage. But the ordinance specifically prohibits the city from placing cameras in parking garages.

    [The ordinance defines any surveillance camera as a safety camera.]

  • ||

    Now if you have a law requiring "safety cameras", named after a dead white girl...that's a twofer

  • ||

    So why are the girls in the picture driving a car with the steering wheel on the passenger side of the car? This may be another problem for New Jersey motorists.

  • Pedophile Rapist||

    They should make it against the law for women under the age of 18 to suck on lollipops while driving... because that's usually the reason I stalk them. Never seen a decal, nor would I understand what it was if I did. Now, a hot 16 year old cheerleader driving in a car by herself at 10:59pm has always been enough for me to put my cruise-control to ultra-creepy.

  • Christ on a cracker||

    What a colossal waste of everyone's time.

  • ||

    "think of the children!!!" thats been the rallying cry for wannabe dictators since the beginning. hitler, stalin, mao, cesar, franco all used the children and 'good intentions' to gain power. if i told you to give me control of your life because i want power, you would tell me to piss of. but if i tell you its for 'the protection of the children' how many people would and are giving up their most basic freedoms because of it.

  • Some Person||

    To think, all this time I thought pedophiles were attracted to prepubescent children, but apparently now there into people in their late teens and early 20's. What will those sneaky pedophiles do next, decide to want 30 year-olds, if so we need laws to protect 30 year-olds from pedophiles.

  • CS||

    Why don't they just raise the age of majority for everything to 21? You know legislators want to. Won't someone think of the 18, 19 and 20 year old "children"?

  • Robert||

    No more laws named after dead little girls.

  • nike shox||

    is good

  • قبلة الوداع||

    thank u

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