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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Illegal Texting in Illinois?

For those of you who keep your thumbs to your "crackberries" while walking around the city of Chicago, Illinois lawmakers may be preparing to slap you on the wrist with a misdemeanor and $25 fine, if their new law gets passed. That's right, texting and walking will possibly be considered illegal.

Illinois state officials, including Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, have spoken out in support of a new bill that would ban using a wireless device while crossing streets.

Now before you flip out, this about this law need to be explained.

When I initially read the article, I had the same ranting flip-out session about "how dare they try and ban WALKING and TEXTING at the same time" and so forth. To tell the truth, I was all ready to type a huge tirade about how Illinois needs to let Darwin take the reigns for a while and get rid of those humans who haven't evolved to the point of either being able to text message and perform the simple act of walking at the same time - or being able to recognize that they aren't capable of this maneuver and deciding to not attempt it. We'll get back to the whole "passive eugenics" notion later.

For now, we all need to take a step back and analyze the TRUE LANGUAGE of this stupid bill before we can all agree it's stupid and should never become law.

Since the article's author has decided to shirk any journalistic responsibilities, I will say that the language does not say that "Illinois residents would get slapped with a misdemeanor and a $25 fine if caught using a cell phone or other wireless device while traversing streets".

Here's the ACTUAL bill, in its entirety:

HB4520 LRB095 16261 LCT 42281 b

1 AN ACT concerning transportation.

2 Be it enacted by the People of the State of Illinois,
3 represented in the General Assembly:

4 Section 5. The Illinois Vehicle Code is amended by adding
5 Section 11-1011.5 as follows:

6 (625 ILCS 5/11-1011.5 new)
7 Sec. 11-1011.5. Pedestrian use of wireless telephone.
8 (a) A pedestrian shall not use a wireless telephone while
9 crossing a roadway.
10 (b) As used in this Section, "wireless telephone" means a
11 device that is capable of transmitting or receiving telephonic
12 communications without a wire connecting the device to the
13 telephone network.
14 (c) A violation of this Section is a petty offense for
15 which a fine not to exceed $25 may be imposed.

Now what this DOES mean is that THIS language can allow for a couple of scary things. For example, they could ticket you not only for texting while crossing the street, but for BEING ON YOUR PHONE while crossing the street. I'm also pretty sure that this language could actually entitle the police to issue you a ticket for listening to an MP3 on your iPhone while crossing the street, since you would be considered to be "using a device that is capable of transmitting or receiving telephonic communications without a wire connecting the device to the telephone network while crossing a roadway".

I'm sure they WOULDN'T, but the fact that they COULD is unsettling enough, isn't it? And wouldn't this open the door for ANY device that requires minute focus to be banned from use while crossing the street? And when will they decide that just as much harm can befall you from lack of attention while walking on the sidewalk as can befall you while crossing the street?

Frankly, Illinois (Chicago specifically) is becoming the new Nanny State and keeps attempting to trade our LIBERTIES away in order to protect us from ourselves. There was an actual study done to look at how the 35 most-populous cities in the United States balance individual freedom with government paternalism - Chicago came in DEAD LAST. "And it wasn't even close," says the author.

"We ranked the cities on how much freedom they afford their residents to indulge in alcohol, tobacco, drugs, sex, gambling and food. And, for good measure, we also looked at the cities' gun laws, use of traffic and surveillance cameras, and tossed in an "other" category to catch weird laws such as New York's ban on unlicensed dancing, or Chicago's tax on bottled water.

Chicago reigns supreme when it comes to treating its citizens like children (Las Vegas topped our rankings as America's freest city). Chicagoans pay the second-highest cigarette tax in the country, and the sixth-highest tax on alcohol. Chicago has more traffic-light cameras than any city in America (despite studies questioning their effectiveness), restricts cell phone use while driving, and it's quickly moving toward a creepy public surveillance system similar to London's.

Chicago isn't alone, of course. Many of America's big cities are moving toward a suffocating sort of paternalism. Chicago is just the worst."

America needs to wake up and stop coddling our citizens and let them make their own mistakes. There's a difference between putting up a new stop sign because of lethal traffic accidents and stopping pedestrians from using their legally-owned devices while crossing from one side of the street to the other. I don't care that officials will undoubtedly say "well it's the law and we're going to enforce it, but we're not going to be patrolling specifically for this" - the same way they shrug off all of Chicago's moronic laws that shouldn't exist. When the foie gras ban was in effect, they told us similar things - that they wouldn't be hunting for it but would respond to tattle-tales complaining about it happening in restaurants.

We need to put a stop to pointless laws the protect us from ourselves and focus a bit more on laws that protect us from OTHER PEOPLE.

We shouldn't be ticketed for driving without a seatbelt, or riding a bicycle/motorcycle without a helmet. We definitely shouldn't be ticketed for doing something potentially distracting while doing something that requires an iota of focus. It makes no sense that we could get a ticket and a fine for using the hands-free function of a cellphone while walking a street, but not for doing the same thing while barbecuing or changing a tire or doing our taxes. All three of those things could destroy you if you screw up slightly by losing focus - but it's OUR CHOICE. We have the right to potentially screw up our own lives. We just don't have the right to potentially screw up the lives of others. I have no arguments about arresting for drunken driving. I have a few qualms about ticketing for cellphone-using while driving. I have more qualms about arresting for public drunkenness.

All in all, it's a matter of who has the potential to be hurt the most and who's most likely to get hurt, and if it's the person DOING the action, then it shouldn't be illegal.

People should be learning to keep their wits about them and making the right decisions on their own. Meanwhile, we as a society should start praying that our feeble human brains can start evolving at least a FRACTION as fast as our technology is evolving. It's the gap in-between that keeps causing these problems, which in turn keep causing these horrible attempts at solutions.

Do you agree? Are you in favor of taking away people's rights to risk getting hit by cars? Do you agree that we're losing too many of our rights? Shouldn't the stupid be allowed to die off in hilarious ways and make room for the smart? Leave a comment!

Please Digg this article and join the debate regarding this bill!


sharon said...

America should regulate gambling like Europe does. I would like to invaite you to read my gambling blog article that I wroye few day ago..

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Bridget said...

This is definitely one of the stupidest laws out there. If any cop really tried to ticket me for this I would start only using texting apps on my phone, like tigertext where messages are easy to be secret. Still, shouldn't have to go to those means. What is America coming to?