Maybe you are one of those people who can walk and chew gum at the same time. Maybe you are a person who can walk in a straight line. Maybe you are even a person who can walk and talk at the same time. Well, if you are in some U.S. cities, then you may be violating a law if you do that last one.
Take, for example, a proposed city ordinance in Stamford, Connecticut. This ordinance, if passed, would make it illegal to walk and talk on a mobile phone at the same time (it would also be illegal to text and walk at the same time).
These governments are justifying this ridiculous legislation by citing statistics that say that pedestrian deaths are up 11% over last year. While this may be true, we don’t know from that general statistic why they are up, but, hey, if you’re a big government-loving person, any excuse will do, right?
Of course, supporters of the legislation justify themselves as being the good guys. Rachel Blevins tells us about a government official in Stamford:
John Zelinsky, a Stamford City representative who is fully in support of the proposal, claimed that its purpose “is not actually to raise money for the city, but to hopefully educate the public.” He said residents will face an initial fine of $30 if police deem that they fit the description of “distracted walkers.”
“They’re oblivious to cars,” Zelinsky said. “I don’t want any more injuries or deaths as a result of pedestrians getting hit. We’ve had about four or five within the past three or four years.”
Sure, John, it’s not about the money for Stamford. We believe that.
Look, I don’t want to see anyone hit by cars because they weren’t paying attention, but this is ridiculous. And it also doesn’t address the unintended consequences of this type of legislation, one of which would be an increase in police brutality.
Don’t believe me? Want examples of police brutality for silly pedestrian violations (like distracted walking-type issues)? Blevins gives us those examples:
In addition to the argument over whether making “distracted walking” illegal is a waste of taxpayer dollars that will enforce a law that should be common sense, there is also the question of how police will handle it, and if there will be an increase in cases of police brutality stemming from incidents where officers stop individuals in an attempt to issue citations for walking and using an electronic device.
As The Free Thought Project has reported, there has been a recent increase in police using excessive force when apprehending individuals for the heinous crime of “jaywalking.”
In June 2016, police used a taser on a mentally ill man while beating him with batons in Bakersfield, California. In August 2016, police choked a high school student and tackled him on the ground in Fresno, California. In April, a viral video showed police repeatedly beating a man, strip him naked, and then mock him, in Del Paso Heights, California. In July, a viral video showed police repeatedly hitting a man as they held him to the ground in Millville, New Jersey. The one thing all of these cases have in common? The suspect police were using excessive force on had been stopped for allegedly jaywalking.
For those police officers who want to abuse their position, more laws (especially nonsensical laws like this one) are just an excuse to be able to take out their aggression on people who did simple, silly things. Yes, even things that didn’t hurt anyone but themselves.
Is this the kind of country that we want to live in, where government try to protect us from stubbing our toes or eating too much sugar? The people who support this kind of legislation need to grow up and take responsibility for their own lives.
Until they do (if ever), you would be wise to live in an area with as little government intrusion as possible, and, clearly, that is not Stamford, Connecticut.