Amber Alerts and the Speed Bumps of Death

Cracked.com—always contrarian, often verging on the libertarian—goes whole hog today, ripping into popular, well-intentioned safety laws that don't work.

They take on speed limits, three-strikes laws ("Gosh, it's almost like we shouldn't rely on sports analogies to build a criminal justice system"), Amber Alerts ("Few things are more dangerously retarded than people in large groups"), sex offender registries ("As it turns out, someone who is willing to abduct, rape and murder a child often isn't stopped by the fact that he'll get put on a 'registry' if he's caught."), and zero tolerance policies at schools.

The asides are often the best bits. Well, that and the stock photos of perfectly innocent yet skeezy looking men captioned as sex offenders:

By the way, even worse than speed limits are speed bumps, the irritating, jarring humps they put in parking lots and such, intended to physically force drivers to slow down and make their CD players skip. Not only do those things not prevent accidents, but they keep ambulances from getting to emergencies, which is exactly the sort of thing you don't want happening when years of bacon sundaes and cookie-dough sandwiches finally catch up with you. The above link references a study in Boulder, Colorado that found speed bumps kill as many as 85 people for every one life they save. Holy shit! We think landmines have a better ratio.

Via Jacob Grier

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  • Menstrual Retardation||

    skeezy?

  • ev||

    Yeah I loved that article. It was indeed libertarian as shit.

    THe best part is the picture of a catcher, with caption saying:

    Above: Precedent.

  • Xeones||

    I linked this in a comment yesterday. PAY ATTENTION TO ME GODDAMMIT

  • phalkor||

    yo, fuck Xeones!

    *sorry but cries for attention tend to get my attention

  • Xeones||

    Shit, phalkor. Shit.

  • Count Floyd||

    Tonight's movie is really, really scary boys and girls it's called "Speed Bumps of Death".

    Oowwwwwoooooooooooo!

  • Menstrual Retardation||

    I'm gonna move to Diva Village!

  • DADIODADDY||

    So, we should use lind mines instead of speed bumps because they have a better kill ration? It's so crazy it just might work...

  • ||

    Hey, don't give my homeowners association any ideas, man.

    Actually my homeowners association is disbanded and never had the usual "homeowners association" kind of power, but they sure got the county to do some dumb shit while they were playing little bonapartes.

  • ||

    Xeones,

    I will commiserate. They do that shit to me a lot.

  • ||

    Has the NY Times or the WSJ ever summed up an argument this well?

    So you take a guy who's committed a crime. Now you put him on a registry that may keep him from getting a job, or making friends, generally just totally isolating him for the rest of his life and giving him lots of free time. Do you think that makes him less likely to commit another crime?

  • Fred||

    For anyone who bothers to think about it, the sex offender registries are for the protection of other people, not the deterrence of the criminal.

    If you want to put your libertarian cred on opposing those registries, I've got a presidential candidate named Mary Ruwart who will knock your socks off.

    It would be really helpful for some "libertarians" to get past the bumper sticker slogans and THINK every now and then.

  • ||

    So, Fred, care to explain how the old sex offender registry protecting thingy works.

    Something like a tiger repelling rock, I'm thinking.

  • Xeones||

    But, SugarFree, i didn't screw up the link.

    (snap!)

  • ||

    Sex offender registries are stupid for the reasons given, Fred. Sex offenders who are truly harmful to people, aka rapists and child molestors, not 18+1 day having consensual sex with 18-1 day, should be in prison for the rest of their lives experiencing what it's like to be sexually assaulted.

  • Paul||

    speed bumps, the irritating, jarring humps they put in parking lots and such, intended to physically force drivers to slow down and make their CD players skip. Not only do those things not prevent accidents, but they keep ambulances from getting to emergencies



    I knew it.

  • ||

    Fred's Ruwart's comments show that he has no idea WTF he's talking about. That was debunked last year.

    That faulty character attack aside, if Cracked is worried about speed bumps making their CDs skip, then they need to upgrade to this century and worry more about the wear and tear on their shocks and struts.

    But they're also right--there are a lot of stupid laws--roughly 80-99% of them by my estimation from here in the Police and Regulatory State of Utopifornia.

  • ||

    if Cracked is worried about speed bumps making their CDs skip, then they need to upgrade to this century and worry more about the wear and tear on their shocks and struts.

    Yes. My beef with speed bumps is generally that they don't prevent you from speeding; they *also prevent you from going even the speed limit* without serious discomfort or damage to the car. That is just wrong.

  • ||

    Is there any more pernicious phrase in the English language than "if it saves just one life..."

  • ||

    tim maguire: Yes, yes there is. In fact there are several: "It's for your own good", for instance. But the tops is "It's for the children!

    Regards,
    Ric

  • ||

    Speed bumps are intended to make people slow down - especially in neighborhoods that otherwise get people cutting through as a shortcut at rush hour, as well as to prevent
    hot-rodding teens/idiots from making too much noise and/or running over kids.

    Amber alerts, especially when there is a vehicle license plate/description published, are very helpful, insofar as there can be many more eyes looking for said vehicle.

    As to registering sex offenders, it allows local law enforcement and residents to know where the pervs are, plain and simple. VERY good thing.

  • Paul A\'Barge||

    "sex offender registries ("As it turns out, someone who is willing to abduct, rape and murder a child often isn't stopped by the fact that he'll get put on a 'registry' if he's caught.")"

    No one says that the putting of a sex offender on a registry is a preventive action. The purpose is to track these criminals and to know where they are as closely as possible so they can be investigated quickly when yet another child is molested.

    "Amber Alerts ("Few things are more dangerously retarded than people in large groups")"

    This is a totally content-free statement. None of the people who respond to an Amber Alert are in a group. Rather, they are public safety officials and concerned citizens who are usually by themselves, doing their jobs and have now been given an advantage in trying to find a pervert and his victim before the pervert gets so far away that he's pretty much free to engage in his favorite activity.

    "three-strikes laws ("Gosh, it's almost like we shouldn't rely on sports analogies to build a criminal justice system")"

    Good grief. What would you like to call them? Please feel free to wallow in political correctness and give us a name that makes you feel better. Be aware though that the end result has to be the same. Repeat offenders go away for practically for ever. Want to call it a "hat trick". Fine.

    By the way, do you folks realize that when you spout this kind of puerile nonsense you're just confirming for the rest of us that Libertarians are morons?

    You do realize that, right?

  • ||

    Hey Paul. About your last line or 2 - I consider myself a libertarian, and was thinking pretty much the same thing.

  • Jon||

    Terrible article! Does the author have an ounce of common sense? The sex offender registry allows me to take additional steps to protect my family.

  • Paul A\'Barge||

    Thank you Trey.

    Every time I prod myself to embrace my libertarian sensibilities and "let my freak flag fly" so to speak, I read something like this, and unfortunately it's usually on Reason.

    And then the door and the mind closes and I have to walk away shaking my head at the utter moronitude of it all.

    I read these things and I see Libertarians stabbing themselves in their eyes with forks, over and over and over again.

  • ||

    Is it just me, or does "Speed Bumps of Death" sound like a bad porno title?

  • ||

    My daughter got in a car accident near home (her friend was driving) and got a ride home from the fire-rescue people in a fire truck.

    The whole way she got to hear about how the speed bumps were a problem for firetrucks; Not *just* that they had to slow way down (and hey, can you imagine going over them in an ambulance?) but that combined with ice on the hills made it nearly impassible.

    I hadn't thought of it before.

    They removed two speed bumps (after a couple of years) that were on the hills and replaced them with one speed bump on the flatter area between them.

  • ||

    People get put on sex offender registries for anything remotely sex related, automatically. For viewing pornography. For having consensual sex with your 16 year old girlfriend. For anything.

    Trying to pretend that they are reserved for people who reasonably pose a menace to the community is being deliberately naive. Pretending that it's okay to punish minor offenders for a lifetime in order to protect people against the child molesters and rapists is contrary to all notions of justice. If someone poses a continual threat to neighbors, then they should be in jail.

    I actually lived a block from one of the bad ones. Despite being on the registry, he killed a couple of people, abducted their children, killed the boy, and was caught three states away where the girl was recovered.

    The registry didn't stop that from happening.

    Knowing where he lived stopped nothing at all.

    What protects your family is teaching children no to go into houses or be alone with adults, and to have the assurance that their uneasy feelings will be taken seriously and that they have the right to say no to any adult, no matter what.

    The sex offender registry contains people who either should have been kept in prisons or mental institutions, or else it contains people who have served their time and have the right to try to rebuild their lives free of witch hunts.

  • ||

    I take it that the supposedly libertarian website cracked.com requires you to register or log in in order to post a comment. So much for libertarianism.

    I object somewhat to their glib dismissal of three strikes laws. California should not be compared to the country as a whole, it should be compared to places with the same qualities, like Detroit. If someone could show that crime went down in Detroit faster than it did in California, then I would be prepared to listen.

    There is besides a common sense aspect to any law. The people who enact laws aren't criminals, by their own definition. It follows that they can be excused for not knowing the impact that their laws may actually have. If you were one of the legislators, it would be natural for you to assume that anyone convicted of three crimes was a career criminal, particularly if they were convicted of minor crimes. So, three puffs and you're out.

  • ||

    If anyone is interested in the real impact of sex offender registries, skim through the Human Rights Watch report "No Easy Answers". In particular, section VIII is a real eye-opener regarding the unintended damage these laws do because they are so over-broad.

    People who are a continuing danger to the community should be in jail or in a mental institution. Putting them on a list (which itself is basically an honor system until you get caught) just provides false sense of security.

  • ||

    The problem with sex offender registries is it doesn't separate the child molester from the guy who took a whiz on a golf course.

  • ||

    My objection to the sex-offender registry is this.

    There is no such thing as a "murder registry" for guys who have, for example, killed three people while robbing a 7-11. If sex offenders are so likely to reoffend, they ought not to be out at all, but still in prison or executed.

  • ||

    Sex offender registries, at least in Texas, state what the person actually did and when it happened. So, if someone got drunk and mooned passing cars, including a school bus that happened by, has the actual offense as well as the date.

    I live in a college town with more than it's share of pervs. I think most people get left alone. One guy, who had sex with a minor when he was a (supposedly) grown up PROFESSOR, actually still teaches in the education department and lives in the most expensive neighborhood in town. I'm sure he doesn't supervise classrooms. The registry does show people that "those" kinds of people don't just live in trailor parks or "those" kinds of neighborhoods. Unfortunately, educated bigots are some of the most stubborn about believing "their people" don't do "those things".

    As a libertarian I might say, "too bad", but the educated bigots' children are safer if they know the truth. Also, while I understand the list itself is not designed to be a deterent, it could give some woman who has a new boyfriend a place to at least check to see if there are any sexual priors. You cannot tell preditors by look or smell.

    Again, I think listing what they actually did is vital to a functioning registry. There is a group that are functional enough to try to live, but secrecy is the enemy of persons with this problem.

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