Our society is eroding under general losses of freedom
| Posted: Saturday, Jul 07, 2012 06:00 am
This is a response to the Our View: ĎStronger enforcement focus needed along with new lawí [June 30 Gazette].
We must remember that the goal of driving laws is to punish drivers who cause accidents and harm others. For some people, simply pulling out of their driveway is unsafe and they should not drive at all. Others cannot drive over a certain blood alcohol level and a third group cannot divide their attention between handheld devices and the road.
The limits of safe driving are uniquely different for every individual and ideally the only law would say: ďBe safe, bad drivers will be punished.Ē
Unfortunately, such a law is too arbitrary for the age of bureaucracy and may be subject to abuse. Therefore, our society has extracted a variety of quantitative measurements often associated with bad driving and has written laws directly against those measurements.
In my opinion, these laws should neither be advertised nor enforced as strict laws. They should be known as things that you generally ought to avoid doing unless you know you can do them safely and responsibly, and things you may be held doubly accountable for if you are considered to have breached that basic contract.
It should be stressed that individual drivers have different skills and that safe driving for everyone is the common goal. Drivers who cause accidents while sober are no better than intoxicated ones. And if we cannot afford this level of trust in our current populace, people should be able to obtain a higher level of licensing which excuses them from such limits and allows them to be accountable for their own actions.
I believe the police have generally been smart and judicial in their enforcement of driving laws, more so than they would likely admit to publicly, and I hope in the future they continue on this path rather than becoming more stringent.
Iíd like to think of the police as the friendly neighborhood presence they were decades ago. They should exist to make society a better place, not to punish innocent people on technical details. Naturally the police are becoming as bogged down in bureaucracy as everyone else, and perhaps their leniency is simply because of under-staffing, but I hope not and the few officers Iíve met have instilled some faith in me yet.
To everyone who supports or votes on such laws: No matter how noble your aims appear to be, please try to rationally consider the broad consequences before forcing them on others. Alcohol is no more to blame for a tragedy than the brand of vehicle involved or the weather.
Airing your dirty laundry in public may seem like a great way to mourn but please have some decency and recognize that over-representation of minority views is not a positive thing. And if you donít drink yourself (as I donít) you might think you have nothing to lose by lobbying for tight laws in this area, but thatís an incredibly selfish and narrow-minded way to think.
The truth is we all stand to lose from general losses of freedom, whether directly or indirectly. All lowest common denominator laws, whether aimed at driving, work safety, or anything else in our city, province, and country, only serve to drag society down to the lowest level.
Nobody wants to live in a world where they are punished or restrained because of the limitations of others. The only direction society can evolve under such a mentality is downwards. Letís become smarter and stop it while we still have a hope.
Jon Silver, St. Albert