Brake Lights

April 24, 2010

California seems to be the capital of poor traffic.  Not just poor traffic but abhorrent, impassable, set up lawn chairs on your car traffic.  However from time to time you may find a window and be able to travel the speed limit, which really means, ten miles above the speed limit.  This is something that I think most people are used to.  As long as you are only ten MPH over the posted speed limit no cop will waste their time, they can’t pull over everyone right?  But for those who travel just a bit faster you have other options not to be pulled over.  You can buy a radar detector for one.  These seem pretty popular, but expensive.  A cheaper option, which is almost equally reliable, are brake lights.  Traffic is flowing along and the in front of you there is a sea of red brake lights the spreads like ripples on water.  This is the universal signal to those behind you, not to slow down, but to slow down for a cop.  I do this all of the time.  In fact recently I was driving and saw a highway patrolman and instinctively went for the brakes.  When I checked my speed I was actually traveling at the exact speed limit.  I was somewhat embarrassed.  Let me explain.

A few years ago in my hometown of Asheboro, North Carolina I was in Wal-Mart not just any Wal-Mart but the Mall of America equivalent.  As I was walking in, a local police officer was a few feet in front of me.  As we both walked toward the aisles I heard a mother exclaim to her animal cracker eating child, “he’s gonna get you.” I shrugged it off not really thinking anything about it.  But it started to bother me.  Why was he going to get her child?  Was he a part-time meth cooker? Did he have a gun? Did he set up a Ponzi scheme for animal cracker trading? This was a far cry from the image of Officer Friendly that was portrayed years ago.  Sometimes we forget the police officers are there to help us.  They are members of our community just like us who are tasked with protecting us, not “getting us”.

This brings me back to the brake lights thing.  I have conditioned myself to stop what I am doing when I see a cop.  Am I really breaking the law so frequently that I need to self assess every time I see some form of law enforcement.  This brings me to the debate in Arizona over immigration.  While the Arizona senate voted on a bill mandating police challenge people who may not be citizens, there were huge crowds standing outside protesting.  I would suggest that the police challenge those people first, in fact they have saved you a lot of trouble and all gathered in one place.  If you are a citizen, and more importantly, someone who has earned citizenship, why would you not support this law.  You don’t allow people to jump in front of you in line?  They have to go through the same process as everyone else.  I am forced to assume that the only people who protest this law, are the ones braking it.

So to learned from my freeway mistakes, if I stop speeding I don’t have to rely on the break lights in front of me, and I don’t have to worry about being pulled over.  That seems logical.  Officers aren’t here to pick on anyone, though there are exceptions, they are here to enforce laws that keep us safe and protect the freedoms of everyone.  So to those who oppose this law, why?  If you are doing nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about.

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One Response to “Brake Lights”

  1. kyle said

    Maybe we are not conditioned to self analyze ourselves when we see a form of law enforcement as much as we are conditioned to break the law. Maybe it is inherent on a capitalistic society to make our own paths regardless of what is required by the state. Certainly drivers in a country such as China wouldn’t dare challenge laws as frequent as us (including that fact that they love their digits as they are currently situated). So, why is it that we all drive 10 miles over the speed limit? Are we daring to go against the man created norm or have we decided that the law set before us is unreasonable? Laws are created in their purity to reflect the will of the people (or so we are told) and if so then why do we as whole ignore these guidelines that are chosen by our body? Further, why do we open the paper every day to see these sworn law enforcers to be the ones that can’t seem to follow the rules? After all, a DUI is a DUI regardless of whether the driver is the Riversides Chief of Police. Yet we continue to put these individuals on a pedestal as if they are so much more law abiding that the rest of society. I recently was reading KCAL9 and they were discussing the procession for former LAPD Chief Daryl Gates. Really? Is this the type of enforcement we want to spotlight? Am I the only one that remembers the riots of 90’s? Has society forgotten the synonymous term “Rampart”? I am just saying that as we live our lives we should all be more conscious of the actions that we portray. Regardless of the mandated rules that are set before us what we really needs to address is the need for compassion of others before our own self interests. Remember, we are all on the rollercoaster of live together, and I assure you . . . there are no brakes.

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