f/k/a . . . the archives

September 18, 2008

laws we need because people are way too – um – human

Filed under: Haiku or Senryu,Schenectady Synecdoche — David Giacalone @ 5:36 pm

If you still believe that capitalist markets regulate themselves and that political ads are always fair and truthful, or that government is always the problem and never the solution, you might not agree with the f/k/a Gang today.  Seems to us, after more than a few decades of reflection, that sometimes (indeed, far too often) we need to legislate common sense and basic consideration for the safety and comfort of others.  To wit:

thumbthing in the way she moves — banning texting while driving:  Down south from us, the Westchester County legislature did a smart thing last week.  It passed a law banning Texting While Driving. See “Legislators Vote to Ban Texting While Driving(New York Times, Sept. 16, 2008); “Board Approves Ban On Texting While Driving” (Westchester.com, Sept. 10, 2008).  It’s a very good trend, and I hope New York State will join Alaska, Minnesota, New Jersey and Washington and impose a state-wide ban soon.

Usually, Prof. Yabut would pipe up about now and say something like: Oh sure, the pols can screw up the courage to ban a dangerous activity performed almost exclusively by those under 30 years old, but they’re too cowardly or hypocritical to pass meaningful bans on the far-more prevalent phoning while driving. [see, e.g., our prior post "California's phony car-phone safety law"].  He has a point, of course, but today I’d rather focus on the positive.

The editorial page of the Schenectady Gazette got the tone and analysis right a couple days ago in a piece titled “Editorial: Textbook case of a law that shouldn’t be necessary, but is” (September 15, 2008):

. . ” It is unquestionably a commentary on how high our society has risen technologically — and how far we’ve fallen in terms of common sense and consideration of others — that laws banning text-messaging on a cellphone while driving a car are becoming more and more commonplace.

“Indeed, such laws seem necessary because no matter how obviously dangerous — how stupid! — it may be to take one’s eyes off the road to focus on a miniature computer screen while operating a ton-plus vehicle; then to take one’s hands off the wheel to key in a response, motorists persist in doing so. And when they do, they not only endanger their lives and the lives of anyone traveling with them, but anyone who might be sharing the road with them.”

The Gazette‘s Editor was also spot on with the conclusion: “And [the TWD law] should be enforced more rigorously than the oft-ignored handheld cellphone ban. Perhaps if police had done a better job with that one, motorists wouldn’t be so brazen about engaging in far-more-distracting text messaging.”  ‘Nuff said.

writing with a finger
in the clear blue sky…
“autumn dusk”

the cats are courting
bumping
heads

going nuts in hailstones
crashing down…
a fox

the old hand
swats a fly
already gone

now I watch
with careful attention…
autumn dusk

……… by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue

..  pet peeves – leash law scofflaws:  … An article two days ago in the Gazette reminded me of another of my pet peeves: People who are too self-important (or too sensitive to the feelings of their canine companions) to comply with leash laws in our parks and streets.  In “Town tightens leash laws: Dogs can run loose in only two designated parks” (Daily Gazette, September 16, 2008), we learn that the Town of Clifton Park, NY, passed a combination leash and dog-park-permit law “after months of discussions between board members, dog owners wanting the option to walk their pets off- and on-leash, and people wishing to use town land without being approached by dogs.”   In fact,

“In return for designating Kinns Road Park as an official leash-free zone, the board is tightening laws in all other parts of town, mandating dogs remain on leash at all times in neighborhood parks, playgrounds and other public places. While the former town law required that dogs remain ‘under the immediate supervision and control’ of their owners, the new law goes further, stating that dogs must be ‘under direct leash control’.”

One Clifton Park dog owner supports the new law, but correctly noted that she wants the leash law enforced, so that the money she pays for a permit to use the dog park doesn’t just become another tax with little real benefits.    Real enforcement — and, better yet, real compliance — is indeed an important aspect of a leash law.  We have one here in Schenectady, but I regularly see scofflaws at the small Riverside Park at the end of my block, along the Mohawk River.

Far too many dog-walkers act as if Schenectady merely requires their pets to be “under their immediate supervision and control” in public — and they very often fail to keep them under control.  Over and over, dogs off their leashes scare the elderly and the very young in Riverside Park, and terrorize other dogs and their owners, too.   When asked why they are merely carrying an unattached leash, the scofflaws are uniformly gruff and defensive, or simply indifferent and self-righteous.   I found this nifty quote from the California Court of Appeals at the Dog Law website:

Whatever may be said about the affection which mankind has for a faithful companion, modern city conditions no longer permit dogs to run at large.”

Dog Law is presented by Nolo, Justia, and Little Sheeba the Hug Pug, with lots of materials put together by Nolo’s Mary Randolph, the author of the book “Every Dog’s Legal Guide: A Must-Have Book for Your Owner.” The website has information on many relevant topics, from Leash and Pooper Scooper Laws, to dangerous and barking dogs, traveling with dogs, and much more.  On the topic of Leash Laws, it tell us:

“Long gone from most of America are the days when you could answer a longing whine from your dog by opening the back door and letting it roam the neighborhood at will. . .

” ‘Leash laws’ generally require dogs to be on a leash and under control whenever they’re off their owners’ property, unless a specific area is designated for unleashed dogs. Some laws apply only at night (when dogs may form packs and do the most damage to livestock) or allow an owner to have a dog unleashed if it is under “reasonable control.” Even dog owners who let their dogs off a leash only because they’re confident they have complete control over them are probably in violation of a leash law.

“The intensity of enforcement, however, varies from city to city and neighborhood to neighborhood. In many places, an owner is unlikely to be cited if the dog really is under voice control and not bothering anyone, even if in technical violation of a leash law. But in some cities, police enforce leash laws strictly, especially if they have received complaints about unleashed dogs in a certain area. . . .”

.. .. Around here, we like to say: “Behind every annoying dog or child there’s an annoying adult.”  And, since it’s dinner time, it’s about time to say: ‘Nuff said.  So, let’s let dog-lover Issa take us home.

peach blossoms–
riding a dog
the naughty boy

suddenly
the dog stops barking…
lotus blossoms!

under dewy umbrella-hat
nodding off…
the dog barks!

the backstreet
is the dog’s toilet
first snowfall

all stretched out 
the dog naps
in the lilies

runaway kite!
the dog also eyes it
restlessly

playing with
the rambunctious dog…
little butterfly

the dog comes out
and calls them too…
fireflies

the dog chewing
the shuttlecock
comes running along

an east wind blows–
the dog lays his chin
on the bank

……. by Kobayashi Issa, translated by David G. Lanoue 

1 Comment

  1. indeed. i’ve seen people texting while driving, and if talking on the phone while doing so is dangerous, then… :O

    Comment by kouji — September 18, 2008 @ 7:32 pm

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