Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Editorial: Speeders likely to kill photo radar

One of the oldest tricks in rhetoric is to characterize your opponent in a certain way, then argue against that caricature, avoiding a more difficult contest over facts. It's called the straw-man argument, and we see it used extensively (albeit amateurishly) in yesterday's editorial.

In this case the unnamed Courier editor characterizes everyone who opposes photo radar, particularly those working the initiative process to ban it, as heedless speed demons who are only trying to avoid paying tickets. This of course completely sidesteps the very serious issues of due process, habeas corpus and community character that are the hard core of this issue. The editorial is clumsy and an embarrassment to my profession, regardless of its political intent.

In his flailing the thought-free editor manages to squash his own argument: "The safety advantages of the system became obvious early on, however. Phoenix television stations frequently showed film snippets from the cameras of people going through the camera at 120 miles per hour." Does anyone else notice that in this example, the criminal speeder does not at any point slow down? He'll get a ticket later, maybe even a summons if the court allows it, but the actual improvement of safety in the moment is nil. Frequently. on the other hand, put a patrol car in that situation and watch what happens.

This is just one more example of the editor's schizophrenic political philosophy: libertarian for himself, authoritarian for everyone else.

1 comment:

Fred said...

Ah, speed cameras. Now that I'm back in the Northeast, I'm struck by their absence here. Always found it highly ironic that AZ, the land of absolute concealed carry and right to hunt & fish enshrined in the constitution, was also the land of all pervasive speed cameras.... And Prescott Valley-- man, are they obsessed with cameras, or what? (Forget about "Welcome to Prescott Valley." No, it's "Photo Enforcement by Town of Prescott Valley." Always gave me a warm fuzzy feeling about PV.)