Fort Lee, New Jersey, recently expanded the Nanny State by passing a “No Texting While Walking” Law and sending police after citizens to fine them $85 per “offense” (truly there is no offense besides the use of force against peaceful citizens).
“It’s a big distraction. Pedestrians aren’t watching where they’re going. They’re not aware,” Fort Lee Police Department (FLPD) Chief Thomas Ripoli said at a news conference [Source]
From the various articles and websites this story has spread to, we can extrapolate that the police are actually taking this “law” seriously, already handing out over a 100 tickets to these citizens and showing no signs of stopping.
With Fort Lee’s 16 robberies, 18 assaults, 42 burglaries, 262 thefts, 16 auto-thefts, and 1 arson in 2010 [Source], it’s obvious that the best use of Police Force is to harass citizens who are walking on streets they paid for while using phones they purchased from private companies (sarcasm).
By now, you can probably tell I do not just see this as just another law. It’s a complete violation of the law by every sense of the word. For the law to operate correctly, in a civilized society, the citizens would offer their respect for the law. How can you respect a law that literally says you cannot use an electronic device while walking?
This “law” completely diminishes all respect for any other law that exists, the good, and the bad ones that should be repealed anyways. It is laws like this, which seek to dictate the very intricate details of the life of an individual, that are a complete threat to society. It is not the citizens who are texting while walking to the bus they now take to work because they can longer afford a vehicle because government spending has destroyed the economy that are a threat, it is the belligerent use of force to influence behavior by authority.
Let me attempt to approach this from a different angle for a short while before I bring up the tone again. Replace the phone with a book; replace the phone with a toy; replace the phone with a map; replace the phone with a disorganized wallet; what is the difference?
If I or you are distracted by something other than a phone, it presents the exact same situation when crossing a street. The phone is not the problem, nor is the problem anywhere near a lack of laws. In-fact, the 40,000 laws introduced at the beginning of the year will require a police force of distracting size, as individuals attention are drawn towards cars being pulled over and their neighbors being strip searched in the streets.
The problem is the failure to hold individuals accountable and responsible for their own actions. It is the sole responsibility of the individual to look both ways before crossing a street, to pay attention to the sea of responsibility that the world presents, whether it’s a phone or a map in their hands is besides the point.
I could sprint across the street to the bus I am taking to work because I can no longer afford a vehicle with my devalued Federal Reserve notes or the inflated gas prices, not look in any direction, and get hit. There’s no phone, nothing in my hands, just a lack of responsibility. This no texting “law” does not even begin to address the very root of the problem, nor does it address the symptom which it attempts to.
The real question that I want to bring up, which is probably the only success of this new “law”, is, what should the role of Government be?
This is a question that many in the United States will not have to just begin asking, but continually ask in an increasing manner in the present and in the future. I recommend all citizens who are offended by this law in New Jersey to vote anyone out who played a role in getting this law passed. I also recommend that the citizens of Fort Lee, New Jersey, start electing candidates and filling the jobs at the Police Department with individuals who respect the Rule of Law and the Rights of the Individual.
For anyone interested in understanding the relationship between the Law, Respect for the Law, and Individual Rights, I recommend reading “The Law” by Frederic Bastiat. There’s a free version available at the Mises Institute HERE, a warning though, this institute advocates Responsibility and Rights.