Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Regulating Common Sense

I was listening to the radio the other day on my way to work and stumbled onto a discussion about some new laws that just went into effect in Virginia. One of the big ones was a law against driving and sending text messages with your cellular phone at the same time. From what I understood, if a police officer sees you doing this, he cannot give you a ticket. However, if he pulls you over for another infraction and catches you in the act of texting, he can give you a citation. O.K., the spirit of the law seems fairly reasonable, but the implementation obviously needs some work. Given the absurd vaguaries, it is clear that only a total and complete and oblivious moron would get a citation for driving while texting (DWT). After listening to the radio jockeys for a few moments, I actually could not tell if they were for or against this new law or were just railing on the "quirks" of the folks who write the laws in the first place. The new cell phone law is not the end of the story. Other new laws in the works include:
  1. There can only be one mortician per household.
  2. Selling of prank food items like tofu is forbidden.
  3. Using air quotes in public is a felony punishable by stoning.
  4. Every state resident must have a current chalk outline of themselves on file at the crime lab.
  5. Jolly Rancher candies may be substituted for vegetables at the family table.
Anyway, you get the idea. However, I want to return to the state passing laws on allowable actions while driving. It seems to me that they are trying to regulate common sense, an instinct that seems to be rapidly diminishing among people. I have seen folks driving while eating cereal, watching videos on a screen mounted on the front dashboard, turned around completely and yelling at their children. As I can imagine that these are just as dangerous and distracting as texting while driving, where will the laws end? When will people realize that their behavior and actions and decisions impact others as well? When will people figure out that they have lost a key characteristic of being human?