Thou shalt not

Thou shalt not

It'll be a target-rich environment when authorities start enforcing the cellphone ban for motorists.

It's not advisable to drive while talking over a hand-held cellular phone. But it's also not smart to eat, put on makeup, girl-watch, change radio stations or do any number of other things behind the wheel of an automobile.

But starting today, those who talk on a cellular phone while driving will be subject to a traffic stop, citation and an escalating series of fines. Meanwhile, other forms of distracted driving will be mostly ignored by authorities unless they lead to a traffic accident.

So here we go again with another in what seems to be an endless series of legislative acts that use coercion to produce behavior that some people, perhaps many people, find sensible.

But given the number of people who drive while talking on cellular phone, it's not clear that a majority of motorists who say they support a ban support the limitation on their own behavior. But the law is the law, so people better get ready.

There is little doubt that motorists distracted by their cellphone conversations pose a risk to their fellow motorists. After all, paying anything less than total attention creates some risk. How high the risk is impossible to say.

Obviously, there are worse laws on the books. Liberty should never be confused with license, so it's understandable why some people want to criminalize the conduct of those who prefer not to wear seat-belts or talk on a cellphone.

The issue is to what extent behavior that is inadvisable should also be illegal.

The University of Illinois is going smoke-free, meaning that it will be a violation of university rules to stand alone in the middle of the Quad and smoke a cigarette, even an e-cigarette that produces a harmless and dissipating vapor. There's no valid reason for such extreme restrictions except to express a moral disapproval of the conduct. Is that what our society has come to — a moral majority mandating other people's purely personal, private behavior?

By the way, will it also be a rules violation on campus for individuals to consume medical marijuana? If so, that could create an interesting face-off between rival groups of zealots who insist that their preferences be given precedence.

The grim fact is that there is no shortage of people who want to tell other people how to live, how to drive, what to eat, what to say and what to wear. And that's just for starters.

Call them nanny-staters, call them busybodies, call them well-intentioned people who want what they think is best for others. They're on the march.

If so many of them didn't consume alcohol, they'd be pushing for a return to Prohibition. If and when they become teetotalers, look out. Until then, among many other prohibitions, stay off the phone while driving.

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Local Yocal wrote on January 01, 2014 at 9:01 am
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And still The News-Gazette wants to keep marijuana illegal. The Nanny must want to arrest certain people and favor the capitalism of certain cronies?

serf wrote on January 01, 2014 at 11:01 am

It is peculiar how they can pick and choose when to fly their libertarian flag.

ROB McCOLLEY wrote on January 01, 2014 at 4:01 pm
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I'm glad you guys are pro-choice. I'm also glad you oppose the Moral Majority.

basset wrote on January 02, 2014 at 6:01 pm

"How high the risk is impossible to say."   NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!  There is a abundant research on exactly what the risk is, similar to or greater than drunk driving.  Stop being ideologues in which you deny anything you don't agree with and start looking at the evidence.  Shame on you.