Thursday, November 29, 2012

Williams: Photo speeding tickets should be outlawed

Perhaps former cop Buz Williams will grow into his new role as a regular columnist. So far his stuff's been not much better on content or style than the right-wing rants in the comments. But like in ninth-grade English, a regular writing assignment can lead to better writing, so we'll see. Look what it's done for Mike Reagan.

In today's column on our hated electric traffic cops, Buz buries his best idea. Well down in the piece he writes, "(During my years as a police officer, it didn't occur often, but there were a few occasions when I didn't write a ticket after speaking with the driver)." (pic) To a certain degree this runs against the usual "it's-the-law" position of the right wing, and interesting in that Buz uses it as the linchpin in his argument that the mechanical enforcement of law is inherently unjust.

Buz is saying that the discretion of the enforcement officer is an essential component in a just system. To at least a certain extent, he trusts cops to understand the context of an action and choose or decline to apply the law according to whether it poses a real threat to others.

If lawnforcement cheerleaders like Buz were to think this through (beyond their own fuming at getting a ticket themselves, as this column seems to be), we might be able to put together a social consensus on raising our standards for police officers to make them less about hardline enforcement (particularly for the sorts of people they personally don't like) and more about real threats to society. We might see more sensible traffic rules that are less about mindless adherence to standards and more about what makes sense in the specific situation. We might actually begin to expect our legal system to think.

Imagine that.


Zig E. said...

I knew that Buz Mills was a candidate for Governor but wasn't aware that Buz Williams was. Both seem to be cut from the same political cloth.

Steven Ayres said...

Arrgh, you're right, Zig, I'm confusing the buzzcuts. I'll fix that.