Nanny State

R U Driving Rite Now?


A couple years ago, I got hit with a jaywalking ticket. I was crossing at the corner in downtown Washington, but against the light. There were no cars coming. When I got "pulled over" by cops in a squad car, it didn't even occur to me that I was about to get in trouble. When I figured out what was going on, I—a sweet, law abiding, goody-two-shoes—sassed the cops. And for a good while afterward, I felt vaguely grumpy whenever I saw an idle squad car taking in the street scene.

So now California and other states are talking about banning text messaging in cars—Suffolk, NY, has already done it—and I can't help but think that such a thing will recruit many more into the ranks of the grumpy cops-sassers. The drug war and speeding laws have already sent us pretty far down this path, but when you add talking on the cell or texting to the list of verboten behaviors, just about everyone in America under the age of 50 (and quite a few who are older) is going to start feeling nervous around cops. We're talking about people who are basically good, law-abiding, common-sensical guys and gals, who just want to double check an address, or make sure everything is ok with their kids.

Sure, texting a mangum opus while dodging through tricky traffic is silly, but people who check a text message at a stop light shouldn't be subject to flashing lights and aviator glasses.