Legislating common sense

Legislating common sense

Twenty years ago, I was a freshman at Boston University, which if you aren’t familiar with Boston, is an urban campus strung out along one of the city’s major streets, Commonwealth Avenue. Everyday tens of thousands of students wandered, walked, strolled, and ran along and across the road on their way to and from classes and social engagements. Combining thousands of busy and distracted students on foot with thousands of busy and distracted commuters in cars is a recipe for tragedy. Every year it seems there’s at least a couple of car accidents involving students and traffic. Back in 1986, I saw one of these myself. I was walking down the sidewalk, approaching a crosswalk, when another student stepped out into traffic right in front of a car. I can still remember his limp body flying through the air like a rag doll. I have no idea of the outcome for that poor fellow because a big crowd immediately gathered and someone ran to call an ambulance (remember, this is pre-cellphone) and my presence would be superfluous.

I’m recalling this incident because a New York state legislator wants to pass a law to make it illegal to listen to a music player or use an electronic device while crossing the street.

He cited the death of a 21-year-old man who was listening to music when he stepped off a curb and was hit by a bus in Brooklyn in September, and the death of a 23-year-old iPod listener last month.

“If you’re so involved in your electronic device that you can’t see or hear a car coming, this is indicative of a larger problem that requires some sort of enforcement beyond the application of common sense,” Kruger said.

No “fluting” while driving

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  • I vaguely remember a science fiction story from the ‘80’s (I want to say that it was written by Saberhaggen, but I can’t be sure) where the politicians were trying to pass laws like this one so often that a special “Sabotage Corps” was started just to keep the politicians from passing any laws.

    How soon before we need the same in reality?

  • Your post has upset me greatly.

    You wrote, “20 years ago, I was a freshman at Boston University.”

    I was in school with you at FUS, and I can’t possibly be that old already.

    OK, I did the math. It’s only been 17 years since I was a freshman. I didn’t realize you were older. Thank heavens!

  • On a favorite forum where I hang out, we started discussing this bureaucratic overreach. One of the more sheeplike members said that “Laws are there to keep us safe, and to a certain extent, protect us from ourselves.”

    To which I responded:

    Some laws are to keep us safe. However, I don’t need someone to protect me from myself. I need a government to ensure my God given rights, as the Declaration of Independence prescribes- life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Government’s role is to protect my liberty, not restrict it in the interest of “safety.”

    Benjamin Franklin said “Those people who would surrender some of their freedoms to obtain safety deserve neither freedom nor safety.”

    Got to hand it to our founding fathers, they understood the proper role of government.

    Another member, one of the moderators, has this quote from President Ford as his motto: Government big enough to give you everything you want is a government big enough to take from you everything you have.