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April 20, 2009


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I've never understood the double standard of "What about illegal don't you understand?" when it comes to immigration vs. traffic law?

One of the most discouraging things about our media culture is the way our discourse and debates keep getting tugged to the right. As Bob says above, there are double standards that are weaponized in our culture war. Hence, advocating sedition, violence, and secession are somehow patriotic when right-wingers do it. But if anyone on the left criticized Bush, however, and it was aiding and comforting the enemy.

The angry old coot who shot up a Knoxville church last year wanted to rid the world of liberals. Apparently, if something is bothering you, it's the fault of liberals. It doesn't have to be factual, needless to say. The crazy who shot three Pittsburgh cops was certain his arsenal was about to be confiscated by Obama (helpfully suggested to him by talk-radio demogogues).

I sometimes try to explain to people that modernity isn't a conspiracy against the Good 'Ol Days. Political values change partly because people change and partly because the socioeconomic environment itself changes. Civilization is an effort to balance security and freedom. We struggle with it because we tend to value one polarity more than the other. It's a legitimate debate with multiple variables, but once the "other side" is deemed the enemy, anything is permitted, including murder.

I'm not sure how many leftists have killed innocents from ideological conviction over the past several decades. Maybe you could make an argument that Ted Kacynski was a lefty - the kind, sad to say, who mocked leftists. Still, the body count disproportionately favors right-wing killers.

Why isn't that an issue?

Arizona law enforcement agencies have actually delayed the placement of new speed cameras because the Republican dominated state legislature has threatened to shut the program down.

What's amazing about it is that speed camera tickets in metropolitan Phoenix are: (a) substantially LESS expensive than equivalent citations given by officers; (b) don't result in points on your driving record, unlike citations given by officers; (c) can sometimes simply be ignored without being served, unlike officer issued tickets which establish a hearing date from the start and which issue a default judgment against you if you ignore them.

Then there is the whole "speed cameras cause rear-end accidents" argument, but the fact is that ANY law enforcement presence on the freeways will cause speeders to brake suddenly when they notice it, whether a flash from a speed camera, a motorcycle cop on the median or embankment with a radar gun in his hand, or a DPS car travelling down the highway. So, unless the argument is to eliminate all law enforcement presence on roadways, I don't see why speed cameras should be singled out.

Or rather, I do, but not on the basis of specious arguments. The bottom line is that speed cameras are more effective because they operate 24/7 and can (at least potentially) cover more ground than patrol officers (who, incidentally, are thereby freed up to handle more important crime fighting tasks than babysitting freeways looking for speeders). That's the real reason why speed cameras are hated by speeders: they work.

There is NO constitutional right to speed. What we're dealing with, where the right-wing is concerned, is a bunch of whiny scofflaws. If you think you're a good enough driver to exceed the posted limit safely, then at least have the balls to pay your fine if and when you're caught instead of trying to wrap yourself up in pseudo-patriotic arguments.

A whole cottage industry has grown up in the media, attacking these cameras. Quite frequently, they quote unqualified amateurs with an ax to grind (Greg Mauz is a name that turns up again and again), citing erroneous (or simply fabricated) statistics from unidentified government reports. Those who take the trouble to contact reporters and track down the reports alluded to, soon find that the data has been misrepresented in such a wholesale fashion that anyone who had actually read the primary source documents would immediately realize the errors. I can only conclude that local journalists (including those at the Arizona Republic) are lazier than sin, unless they share the bias of "libertarian" ramrods like Mauz (possibly, but unlikely).

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