22 February, 2007

more excercises in poor legislation

i may have posted about this elsewhere, before. or i just thought about writing this post. in anycase, i'm writing it now. forgive the lack of links; i don't feel like looking this stuff up again.

seems that some rep. in brooklyn wants to propose a bill making it illegal to cross the street while listening to an iPod. stop laughing, he was serious. why? it seems the reasoning behind this madness is that 3 people in brooklyn were killed crossing the street while listening to iPods, between september 2006 and january 2007. one even, apparently, did not heed the warning cries of onlookers, as the volume was apparently too loud.

this is a horrible, stupid idea. why, one might ask? it could save lives! the problem is, well, there are many problems with this sort of law. the first is, it is not the government's business to save people from their own stupidity. certainly not in a free country. freedom means you are free to make your own errors in judgement, even if they get you killed. but that opinion aside, 3 pedestrian deaths in approximately 4 months is, well, insignificant. i know, i know, every fucking life is precious, yadda, yadda. thing is, there are about 8 million people living in new york. the number of pedestrian deaths last year was, if i remember correctly, 252. and that was low. still, it works out to almost 5 people being run over every week. yet on the basis of 3 of those deaths, new legislation is called for, to fine a specific action that rarely increases the odds of someone getting killed? if you believe the hype, everysingleperson on the planet has an iPod by now. that only 3 of the teeming mass have gotten hit by cars in the pedestrian friendly streets of brooklyn is a minor miracle.

let's say this does get passed into law. how is it enforcable? do the earphones have to be out, or just the music off? how does one tell, if the later? if the problem is people not being able to hear oncoming traffic, should we also fine the deaf for crossing the street? why did we never have this problem with walkmans? and so on.

this sort of bill faces the same problems as those that ban cell phone use while driving. that is, they rely on anecdotal evidence and miss the point anyway. the root problem is that when a human performs a potentially dangerous activity (such as driving, or crossing a city street) whilst distracted by some other activity (such as talking on a phone, listening to music, talking to another person, eating, searching pockets for loose change, etc.) the chances of getting killed increase. what is causing the distraction is not relevant. the point is they are distracted. focusing on specific distractions might look, politically, like one is actually doing something "for the people". but really all one is doing is furthering one's career and furthering the gap twixt law and reason.

EDIT: hehe...keif, this is exactly what i'm talking about (well, in my comments, at least).


Keifus said...

What's more, what if it's not an iPod? What if it's some competitor, or even someone using an ancient Walkman or something. But...but if it one child somewhere feels just a little bit safer...we need to think of the children.

A local yokel up here just introduced a bill to make helmets mandatory when sledding. Been a little icy lately, and a couple of tykes bumped their noggins.

K (gotta go!)

twiffer said...

christ. one of my brothers once went through a fence on a sled. chain link, too. i remember going over a jump on a tube when it was very icy and landing flat on my back. that hurt.

soon to be outlawed: skipping stones, throwing rocks at hornets' nests, jumping off swings, sword battles with sticks, playing in the woods in general (don't worry, we'll cut the woods down too, just to be on the safe side. and for development), diving boards, jumping off of bikes, jumping off of anything for that matter, and playing with dogs (they can bite you know).

honestly, it's just ridiculous. fuck the children (well, not literally, mind you). it's like people think about all the stuff they did as kids and are determined they were too dangerous and their children must never be exposed to such things. forgetting that, well, it didn't kill them.