Law Abiding, More Or Less

Despite my outwardly-conservative mien, I am in fact a rebel, and have been one pretty much all my life.

Most of my Longtime Readers are familiar with my 1972 arrest and brief imprisonment (at age 17) back in the old Racist Republic, for the heinous crime of daring to publicly express my opposition to apartheid and especially to the education policy foisted upon Black South Africans by the Afrikaner Nationalist government. Because this protest had taken place in public (even though on the university campus), I and many others were charged under the Riotous Assemblies Act (there was no First Amendment in S. Africa, you see) because we hadn’t applied for a protest permit — did I already mention that the protest took place on private property? — but I and the others were later acquitted on a technicality.

That was only the first of my encounters with the State, by the way. Another involved hiring a wonderful Black maid to clean my apartment and do my laundry, but refusing to “register” her with the proper local authorities because I thought that was a load of old bollocks. Then when this was discovered, the local gauleiter bureaucrat charged me with being in contravention of the Group Areas Act (the one that said that Blacks couldn’t be in “White” areas without a permit), and issued me a fine. Which I refused to pay. So I was dragged into court yet again.

Judge: You have to pay the fine.
Kim: I’m not going to pay the fine.
Judge: Can you not afford it?
Kim: No, I can afford it. I’m just refusing to pay it.
Judge: Why?
Kim: Because it may be the law, but it’s ridiculous.
Judge: If you don’t pay the fine, you could face a jail sentence.
Kim: I don’t care. You might as well fine me for not having a permit to work my job here in Johannesburg.
Judge: You don’t need a permit to work here; you’re White.
Kim: And that’s why I’m not going to pay the fine.
Judge: [mumble mumble]

At that point, my lawyer told me to sit down and STFU, went up and spoke to the judge, who then told me I was free to go and slammed his gavel down with what I think was relief.

Turns out that unbeknownst to me, one of my buddies had come to the courthouse in case I needed bailing out — he knew me far too well, I think — and he’d secretly paid the fine already. (His father was a member of the U.S. Embassy staff, and apparently he’d ordered his son to do what he did because while he sympathized with my actions, he also saw the realities of the situation, and me having a criminal record was not a Good Thing. Bah.) For the record, I was then 26 years old.

Since I’ve been living here as a citizen in the United States, though, I’ve lived a simon-pure life, from a legal standpoint anyway. The reason is that most U.S. law makes kinda sense, certainly when compared with the apartheid bullshit, although I regret to say that I did carry a handgun a lot when I lived in Chicago because that prohibition was not only stupid, but un-Constitutional (as the McDonald case would prove many years later). It was crappy. Every time I saw the potential for some villainy to be perpetrated on me or someone close to me, my thought was always, “Oh please please please pick on someone else because otherwise I’m going to get into such shit when I shoot you in the face.”

I’ve also started to misbehave a bit since, oh, 2009 (the start of The Obama Years) because socialism, no details necessary. But really, it’s been so far, so good.

And I told you all that so I could tell you this (and it was all triggered by this article).

What may come as a surprise to most is that the laws I obey almost obsessively are the traffic laws. Why? Because alone among the laws, they all make sense: slow down here for the sharp corner, don’t park there, stay in your lane, don’t run a red light, don’t speed through a construction zone, etc. etc. — all are very sound and logical, and I obey them almost obsessively. Since coming here over thirty years ago, I have had the grand total of one traffic ticket, and that was because I was lost, looking for landmarks and didn’t see the speed notice. Even the judge sympathized, and let me off. That’s a fine I would have paid, let me tell you, because I really shouldn’t have been speeding.

I also like the fact that when people break the law egregiously — e.g. running a red light while drunk — that the Law beats them over the head with the Book. I also think that if an illegal alien breaks a traffic law — any traffic law except maybe illegal parking — he should be deported. I remember talking to an Egyptian guy — a legal resident — boasting about how he’d amassed an astonishing number of traffic tickets for reckless driving because “We don’t have traffic lanes in Egypt, man. You drive where you want.” Having been to the Third World (in my case, India), I’ve seen how this approach to driving works and let me tell you folks, it ain’t pretty. I told him he needed to straighten out and clean up his act, because if he ever got nailed for driving that way and caused someone’s injury or death, he wouldn’t have to worry about the damn police because I’d come to his house and pull his eyes out of his sockets. (“If you’re going to drive around without looking, you don’t need your eyes, asshole,” were my exact words.) He was not happy, but then again, nor was I.

And I’m sick of people thinking that driving is in the Bill of Rights and therefore can’t be taken away from them. It isn’t, it can, and in a lot of cases, it should. Yeah, I know that if you can’t drive, you’ll lose your job because you can’t get to work blah blah blah. That’s the reason to drive carefully and not break the law, shit-for-brains.

I need to quit now before I get really angry.

23 comments

  1. The problem with traffic law in the US is that it’s selectively enforced, and in many cases, stupidly designed. Some bluehair in a SUV can happily weave around traffic, cut across gore points, yack on the phone, and generally suck at driving in all respects, and typically won’t be pulled or ticketed unless they happen to do something really stupid in front of a cop who doesn’t have anything better to do. Until they kill someone, anyway.

    However, if I’m doing 120 mph on a sport bike on an open road with no traffic in the middle of nowhere, I’m going to jail if I get caught, even though I pose no danger to anyone save myself. And because that is a high revenue offense, such things are aggressively targeted.

    The revenue model is the problem. The fact that you don’t actually need to display any significant driving proficiency to get a license in this country is another. The latter can be taken too far, of course, as is the case in Europe– but generally speaking we’d be much better off with more stringent licensing requirements and some kind of incentive to get cops going after people who drive carelessly. There is absolutely no excuse for weaving out of your lane, crossing a centerline, etc– and doing so should be punishable with a license suspension.

    1. “The revenue model is the problem”
      ^^^ this

      There’s a stretch of the Garden State Parkway in NJ where the speed limit drops from 65 to 55 for no other reason than to give cops an excuse to pull you over for speeding. Cities in NJ (and likely other places) rely on traffic ticket revenue to make their budgets.

      1. Yes – It is a pure revenue scam in New Jersey.

        I got a ticket on Route 80 last week. While cruising down a big hill on the Interstate, an unmarked car flies up from behind and starts tailgating me. I’m annoyed – so I speed up to get past the people on the right (who were going exactly the same speed). Lights come on in the unmarked state police car – and he writes me a ticket.

        I refuse to pay it so I’ll be in court next month.

        On other occasions I’ve had local cops flat-out lie about why they pulled me over, then write tickets for an infraction that doesn’t involve insurance points. They know I’ll pay if there are no points and the revenue is their job.

  2. Traffic laws make sense? 😉 Ex-zippit A: HOV/Car-pool lanes. Here in CA, it used to be “2 or more in the car and you can use the HOV lane”. OK, that makes sense: reduce congestion. Then it was “Well, if you have the environmentally correct car you can use the HOV lane”. Now it’s “Well, OK, if you pay a toll, you can use the HOV lane”. And it’s completely unenforced. On any given day, (you see a lot, splitting lanes on a motorcycle) easily 1 out of 3 HOV lane occupants are cheats.

    Last year, to great fanfare, texting-while-driving became an offense. Again …. completely unenforced.

    And yes, at 120MPH on a motorcycle I’m a safer, more aware, more attune-to-my-surroundings driver than some silly chick on her cellphone weaving around at 65MPH in the fast lane.

  3. Since I’ve had a President and presidential candidate decide which laws they’re going to enforce (immigration, classified materials handling) I’ve decided which laws I’m going to obey (how, where and when I carry a firearm).

    1. And do it with absolutely zero repercussions whatsoever; in the case of Her Nastiness, even being scolded in a public address by the FBI head for having committed those crimes, laying each one out there and what laws it broke, and then taaaaaking it back like Bossman Barry told him to by saying, “In spite of these multiple felonies which I would send one of you assholes to prison for, I am going to recommend no charges.”

  4. The comments about selective enforcement and revenue stream for municipalities are correct. Since you live in Texas, the DPS is responsible for enforcing highway violations. Be honest, with the exception of impaired driving, the only thing the Highway Patrol really does is collect revenue for the State and serve as enforcers for the insurance industry. As a driver on Texas highways, I do 5 MPH over the speed limit. Everybody else does 10. Talk about selective enforcement. The DPS actually gives you about 10% leeway for exceeding the speed limit. And since there are two lanes on each side on the interstates, how is speeding actually a threat? Especially since you paid for the roads. Admittedly, the faster you go, the more damage you will do if you wreck. However, I have rarely seen examples of speeding itself causing a wreck. Look at the Autobahn in Germany.

  5. Kim, like you I fled Illinois for the great state of Texas. And like you, I carried for personal protection in Chicago illegally, since there was no legal way.
    A while back I got into a discussion with a fellow member on the Smith and Wesson forum after I posted that I refuse to get a permission slip from some bureaucrat (LTC) to exercise a constitutionally recognized and protected right. His point was that it is easy enough to comply, so why not. My point was that a license is a right the government sells to you after first taking it away.
    Your thoughts?

  6. It’s funny — I have a hard time trusting a man who has never been arrested. (Ditto for a man who is a life-long teetotaler without a medical excuse.) You don’t appreciate “more government” until “more government” has slapped cuffs on you.

    I’m with you on traffic control laws, but I’m a scofflaw on the rest of it. Both of my arrests are due to tax evasion, also known as “failure to maintain auto registration.” We need to draw a distinction between traffic laws that matter, and traffic laws that are designed solely to bring in revenue. One of the things I like the most about Dallas is that DPD doesn’t have a significant “traffic” section, and only posts speed traps in locations where multiple residents have complained of excessive speed.

    That means that Dallas’ traffic courts aren’t clogged with revenue generation tickets, and the judge (and jury) know that if you are in there, it really is because you were driving like an asshole.

  7. I had my experience with the law when I was 25 years old, out of four years in the Army and three overseas and, the first month I was back I was not about to let a small town cop mess with me. He was with a couple of other cops who were giving some young guys who lived in a apartment close to me a hard time at 11:00 at night. I stepped out of my apartment, walked up to one, said hi, and asked what’s going on? The goober head asked me who I was and I asked him why he wanted to know and it went down hill from there with him telling me I was under arrest and, go get in the police car and then my reply was to ask him if he was nuts and what law I had broken.

    Two hours late after being maced, hit over the head with a flash light, handcuffed and thrown in jail I was released and received an apology from the chief of police the next morning. When I asked a local lawyer if I could sue them I was told that of course I could and I might even win and those idiot cops didn’t have anything worth going after. The lawyer also told me that the type of guys these were if I went after them they would probably pull me over and find some weed in my car they planted there. Then I would have to spend some money proving it wasn’t mine so I moved on and let it go since I learned the best thing to do was be careful around cops, especially small town cops and don’t try to educate them out what might or might not be my rights. That was over 45 years ago and I doubt if much has changed in small town law enforcement.

    As for obeying traffic laws I concur except for speed limits, I go with the flow and our highways seem to be flexible in my part of Texas. Driving West on I-10 from our town the speed limit is 75 and all the traffic is moving at 80 (5 mph over) until Kerrville 30 miles away where the speed limit is 80 and traffic flows between 85 and right under 90 and then an hour further at Junction the speed limit is 85 and it is best to stay below 95 with the traffic and then when you turn off of the road and go through most any of the small towns they are waiting to nail you in poorly marked speed traps.

    In Menard Texas they nailed me for going ten miles per hour over the speed limit because I didn’t break fast enough from 40 to 30 when I saw the sign and the city police in their new fully decked out SUV radioed ahead to the two officers in their full decked out SUV in the middle of town to stop me and give me a ticket. I was on my way to Colorado and coming back ten days later I was careful to slow down and watched a couple of other cars get stopped. Over $200 is a bit steep for a ticket in my opinion but it does help pay the expenses of the small town police force of Menard, population less than 1,500.

    As for motorcycles going over one hundred miles per hour and zipping past, they scare the crap out of me because their closing speed is so fast I often don’t have any idea they existed util they are well past me. If someone is going that fast and I pull out in their lane it is because I did not see them coming since the last thing I want is to have the back of my pickup cut a motorcycle driver in half with his head ending up in the tool box in the bed of my truck and his nether parts hanging from my trailer hitch when he comes apart. That would really ruin the day for both of us. But, that’s just me and remember, I am old.

  8. The average American, as a rule, tend to be a pretty terrible driver. Not just in the lack of SA, or in the various distractions they indulge in while driving. But there’s the lack of technical knowledge- knowing how to conserve momentum, how to downshift*, how to approach a curve, ect.

    In regards to traffic enforcement, the cops aren’t aggressive enough. Granny bluehair going 45 on the interstate needs a ticket too.

    *of course, the average American has no clue how to drive a stick anyway.

  9. I venture that the majority of traffic laws are sensible. But why sit through a red light when there are no cross-traffic cars in sight? Why be required to use a turn signal when changing lanes if there is no car anywhere near you in the lane?

    While I prefer a speed limit of “reasonable and prudent”, I’d object to Dudley Doofus doing 100 mph on bald tires or with worn-out brakes or shocks.

    I’m old, now, so I don’t build any more 150 mph street machines or enjoy 200 mph race cars. However, even in my dotage I notice that my skill level is still above that of most drivers around me in traffic. Saves the sheet metal. 🙂

    1. “But why sit through a red light when there are no cross-traffic cars in sight? Why be required to use a turn signal when changing lanes if there is no car anywhere near you in the lane?”
      Because while you may be a safe and aware driver, Suzy Soccermom isn’t. Where you would look both ways carefully before driving against a red light, Suzy would make a quick glimpse and hit the gas (gotta finish her FB post!).
      Ponder the worst drivers you can think of- those are the ones the laws are written for.

      1. I don’t mind signalling, because I’m certain that there are times when someone is there even when I don’t see anyone…but if Suzy Soccermom can’t go through a red light in an empty intersection after coming to a complete stop, she’s going to have problems with stop signs too.

        This is particularly pertinent in a place like Utah’s Wasatch Front — a series of valleys where a good portion of Utah’s population resides. The valleys trap exhaust, which means that the EPA gets on our case for the pollution levels. (To further complicate things, apparently there’s now a study that suggests that about 70% of our pollution is imported, via funky weather patterns, from China.)

        I have often wondered how much idleness (and accompanying smog) would be reduced if we could just recognize that most places with traffic lights can be treated as stop signs, because the majority of them are relatively flat one-lane-per-direction streets (with *maybe* turning lanes) intersecting one-lane-per-direction streets at right angles….precisely the types of intersections where it should be easy to see traffic from all directions.

    2. Why be required to use a turn signal when changing lanes if there is no car anywhere near you in the lane?

      Because it’s the car you don’t see that you will clip when you change lanes. At least give him a little warning.

      1. One funny thing about PNG driving is while one may use both sides of the road plus the sidewalk, drive with no regard for speed limits, and have vehicles that look like the loser in a demolition derby, everybody always uses their turn signals.

  10. Well at 30+ speeding tickets I guess you can tell how much I think of speed limits. For what is worth they are mostly open road dead of night stops. Got to wonder why when the only cars on the road are you and them.

    As to the rest of the book of laws I am getting to the point I think we need to arrest some of the felons we have in government service.

    And don’t even get me started on empty cars with active camera and radar units. Revenue enhancement 100 %.

    And I count some of the officers of the law among my friends. And no, that will not help unless you have found someone corrupt and I don’t associate with those kinds.

  11. The traffic laws make sense. Some of the speed limits are being used for revenue…which undermines everything else. Shortsighted policy.

    The biggest heartburn I have is when the traffic laws aren’t enforced…as in letting Little Miss Cellphone wander the streets paying more attention to the phone than to the cars around her.

  12. I drive a fast car in a city environment filled with bad drivers but I agree with the traffic laws making sense for the most part.

    As for other laws, you cannot go through your day without violating Federal laws you don’t even know about. The legal profession, including those who become lawmakers, have been leaching justice out of the legal system for a long time now until “justice and law are, at most, distant cousins”.

  13. In looking at so-called anarcho-capitalist Medieval Iceland, and comparing it to other places that have certain levels of law, I have concluded that there exists a paradox for anarcho-capitalists:

    The citizens that can live “without law” (for whatever degrees of “no laws” you wish to use) also happen to be highly law-abiding. I wonder to what degree this is, in part, due to laws making some sort of sense.

    On the other hand, places like Egypt and India have convinced me that having a lot of law is pointless, if the population refuses to obey the laws. It’s funny that people like to use these places as examples of what happens when we have anarchy — ignoring that Egypt and India have plenty of traffic laws, but no one obeys them. (I would even suspect that they might not be enforced, in no small part because the police are eager to accept bribes to look the other way.) Thus, no amount of law will create an ordered society, when the culture itself is lawless.

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