Let's Enforce the Law

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by Eric Peters EricPetersAutos.com

Recently by Eric Peters: The Running Man … for Real

If it’s really wrong — ethically indefensible — to “speed,” then why not enforce speed limits to the letter? The law doesn’t spot shoplifters one pocketful of stolen stuff before action is taken. If you only pay some of the taxes you’re told you owe, they won’t overlook it. So how come we’re tacitly given license — most of the time — to ignore the speed limit, up to a certain point? Cops will sometimes openly say they won’t hassle us so long as we’re not traveling more than “x” MPH over the speed limit.

It’s bizarre — if you take the position that the speed limit is not merely a number on a sign but quite literally the absolute maximum speed any driver may achieve before he puts himself and others in mortal peril. This, of course, is exactly the position taken by the cops — the same ones who “spot” us 5-10 MPH over the speed limit — when they decide it’s time to enforce the speed limit. At least, this is what they’ll tell you in court — and so will the judge. They’ll never tell you it’s ok to “speed” — even a little — and even though they do so themselves and know it. Appearances must be maintained.

But actions speak otherwise.

Everyone — almost — drives at least a few MPH over the posted lawful maximum as a matter of routine. In other words, almost everyone “speeds.” This strongly hints at the truth of the matter: That “speeding” — while certainly illegal — is not unethical. It’s not a violation of natural law to drive 45 in a 35 zone. Taking someone else’s property, hitting them over the head — those are always wrong. Violations of natural law. The system doesn’t “spot” offenders against natural law — or “cut them slack” — at least, not in theory. If you steal, you’re a thief and if a cop is around, he’ll bust you. Few would argue with the propriety of the cop’s actions. In fact, most of us would expect — would demand — merciless treatment of thieves and other offenders against natural law.

Yet most of us sympathize with “speeders” — and are glad when we “get away” with doing so. When we “talk our way out of it,” or finagle some way to game the system so that the charge is dropped or reduced.

Unless we’re talking Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread to feed his literally starving to death children, few among us sympathize with thieves. Only a sociopath feels glad when he “gets away” with stealing or harming someone else. Normal people feel shame when they do wrong. Are disgusted when a thief games the system — and the ethically justified charges against him are dropped or reduced.

So, why not cut the crap?

Either “speeding” is ethically wrong — or it is another in a long litany of victimless crimes manufactured by statute but without any ethical basis.

If it is always and necessarily a violation of other people’s rights for any person to drive faster than “x” MPH as established by bureaucrats and politicians — then enforcement ought to be merciless. Every identified incident of “speeding” ought to be regarded in the same way as every instance of theft or assault.

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Eric Peters [send him mail] is an automotive columnist and author of Automotive Atrocities and Road Hogs (2011). Visit his website.

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