Surgery Center of Oklahoma Blog

November 27, 2011

Checkpoint Charlie, USA

Filed under: Uncategorized — surgerycenterok @ 9:31 am

I recently received a speeding ticket near Denton, Texas on my way home to Oklahoma City.  A state trooper was positioned in a 55 mph zone that was sandwiched between two 65 mph zones and I (unfortunately for me) didn’t see the change in speed limit.  The officer was very nice and professional and his issue of a citation didn’t take him very long.  So far so good.  A few days later, I called to find out the payment procedure.  I was cited for 12 mph above the speed limit and the ticket was about $200.  Wow.  Ok.  ”Who do I make it out to?”  The woman on the other end of the phone said, “just make it out to the judge.”  I burst into laughter which she did not find funny at all.  I was thinking, “wouldn’t he rather I make it out to one of his children?” It gets better.  I repeated the amount just to be sure and she said, “or you can make it for $400 and we won’t report it to the state of Oklahoma so it won’t have any effect on your insurance.”  I asked, “is that your policy?”  She said “yes.”  ”So I make this out to the judge and if I double the amount, you won’t tell?”  Now she was mad.  I said, “your check for $200 is on the way and you should look up the words, ‘bribe’ and ‘extortion.’”

What’s my point?  Just because that’s the law there, it doesn’t make it right.  There are laws, local and national that just don’t make any sense.  I think that as this country loses its way, more and more of this blatant disregard for justice from those who are meant to serve justice is on the way.  I think that more and more we must think like individuals and not give those in uniform and the district attorneys of the world and the federal prosecutors the automatic moral high ground without question.

“More Cops More Stops” is a recent initiative here in Oklahoma City to crack down on…well…who knows until you get stopped at one of their checkpoints.  Could be that you don’t have your seat belt on.  Could be that you aren’t carrying the proper papers and documents.  Sounds like East Berlin not too long ago, no?  Will they nab a few drunks?  Sure.  Will they nab people with outstanding warrants?  Sure.  Will they have violated the rights of everyone unnecessarily hassled by this initiative?  Sure, but who cares about that anyway?  And if you are stopped and wrongly accused you have no reason to believe that you’ll be treated in any manner other than the utmost fairness, right?  Read this about a former district attorney and his rogue forensic chemist here in Oklahoma City.  Bob Macy died recently and folks around here seem to miss him.  They have forgotten about the people he deliberately sent to death row, knowing their innocence.

Will Grigg has become one of my favorite writers.    Grigg worries and argues that as government at all levels becomes more and more tyrannical (a slippery slope from which there is usually no recovery), the police will be forced to choose between their tyrant bosses and the people they are supposed to protect and serve.  Now let me be clear.  I have met many police officers who are well-adjusted nice guys.  I have seen them as patients and even on traffic stops.  The purpose of this blog is not to impugn the reputation of the police in general.  It is to reassess the relationship between the people and the government that every day is less and less representative of us as individuals.  The police at all levels over time will increasingly be in a difficult situation and be presented with the dilemma posed above.

The old boy scout attitude “just obey the law and you don’t have anything to worry about” will be increasingly ineffective for even the law-abiding citizen of the future.  ”Just pay the fine for not buying their health insurance and then you don’t have anything to worry about.”  ”The law says that if you’re over 70 years old you aren’t eligible for brain surgery.” “It’s the law, you know.”

The purpose of the law, as Bastiat wrote, is to protect property, as the concept of property predates the concept of law.  The purpose of the criminal justice system was until recent times about restitution, not about headline grabbing DA’s.  As time goes by I think we will need to examine the freedom tools we have at our disposal and must guard against automatically granting the moral high ground to people that are put in positions of trust and power.

G. Keith Smith, M.D.



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