Not enough laws to protect us from idiots


POSTED: Sunday, December 07, 2008

The ever-increasing number of stupid people in the world is making it hard for me to stick to my basic libertarian principles.

The more I drive on the roads, for instance, I learn that I'm not really against government intrusion into people's lives, I'm just against government intrusion into MY life. Evidence is mounting that government intrusion into the lives of stupid people is not only advisable, but should be mandatory. So I was not surprised to find myself agreeing with City Councilman Charles Djou's proposed legislation to ban text messaging and the playing of video games while driving.

The old me would have said that we don't need to impose new laws to keep the roads safe. Each new law slowly erodes our constitutional freedom to be simply left alone. And you would think that just about everyone knows when you are driving a couple of thousand pounds of moving vehicle that your attention should be on piloting the craft and not playing with your Palm Pilot. Then we learn that a city bus driver was actually caught playing a video game while driving, and we realize that stupidity has reached epidemic proportions.

So now, not only am I in favor of a law that bans text messaging and playing video games while driving, I think other drivers should get a bounty for reporting such activities.

One shortcoming of Djou's proposed law is that it would prohibit only two types of stupid behavior. There are so many dumb things stupid people do behind the wheel that you simply can't ban them all individually.

So, going against my libertarian credo, I suggest the creation of a new law: DWS (driving while stupid).

It would be like the DUI law that targets drunken drivers, except DWS will target drivers who are doing anything stupid. That would include text messaging, playing video games, talking on a cell phone, eating a plate lunch, putting on makeup, writing a novel, balancing a checkbook ... any act of stupidity that endangers other drivers.

NOW, SOME people, like me for instance, are capable of making the occasional cell phone call while continuing to drive in a safe manner. But many other drivers are just too stupid to drive and talk at the same time. These are the idiots who always seem to be taking up half your lane as they drive toward you, chatting to their friend about a zit that materialized on their face that morning or other inane subjects. Under my law those people would be charged with driving while stupid.

When I first proposed a DWS law years ago, I suggested that cops would have to perform field stupidity tests, in the same way they do field sobriety tests on drunken drivers. You know, they'd ask them to, say, stand on their head in the middle of the road or poke themselves in the eye with a stick, and if they did it, they'd be found criminally stupid.

Now I don't think field stupidity tests are necessary. If a driver is caught text messaging while playing video poker and eating a bowl of chili, he should get a ticket for DWS. If he's a city bus driver, he should be shot.