People Behaving Badly – on the internet
Posted by bsflag2007 on Tuesday, January 16, 2007
My 16 year old daughter was “rear-ended” last spring while stopped at a traffic signal. Pretty straight forward situation.
The woman in the offending vehicle was a frazzled grandmother delayed in bad traffic and late to pick up her grandchild at day care.
Fortunately, I was in the passenger seat and can be absolutely certain about the events.
Unfortunately, the other driver decided to take the less than honorable route of trying to capitalize on the youth and inexperience of her victim – and tried to put forth an argument that my daughter was “driving erratically”.
As fate would have it, we had the good fortune of having had a witness. A local politician (Rock Bowers, R) was doing some sign waving at the time and observed the incident. He was kind enough to agree to relate his observations if necessary.
In the end – the other insurance company paid for our repairs and no one was hurt. But it was a sickening display of a lack of conscience and civil and civic manners.
Thank goodness for the availability of a credible, unbiased witness. I don’t know whether the “other side” actually contacted Mr. Bowers – but having his contact info and willingness to get involved appears to have made the “jerk” back off her ridiculous tack.
In fact – thank goodness for witnesses in general.
The social contract is more effectively enforced when “witnesses” are not only present, but willing to get involved.
When we “wax nostalgic” about “the good old days” when people were honest, a man’s word was his bond, and the streets were safe —- the significant component was the effect of “peer pressure”…. the positive version — and that is what many folks now lament as the “missing piece” which is contributing to the downward spiral of American society.
The lack of “willing” witnesses has been a terrible problem for law enforcement -particularly in the most dangerous and crime ridden areas.
But the unwillingness of everyday folks to “get involved” and the relative anonymity of contemporary life has had poor effects on less egregious behaviors than outright crime.
But I see hope from some interesting developments. Technology can be our friend.
No, I’m not talking about red light cameras — I believe they are a dangerous addition to the law enforcement arsenal in many ways…. not the least of which is the actual danger they pose by forcing people to stop short at traffic signals. “Big Brother” fears being another danger.
Video surveillance of public streets by police – I’d like to see some limits to how that info is used, but in specific high crime areas or to monitor private property – I can live with it.
No – I’m talking about the new spin on good old fashioned community policing – neighborhood watching – looking out for one another.
The combination of cell phone cameras (and good old pen and paper) and the internet is turning into a terrifically empowering community adhesive.
Witnesses to accidents, hit and runs, parking violations, handicapped parking abuses, domestic violence, crimes – you name it – have recorded the infractions and in more and more cases have posted the video or information to web sites.
I am proposing a Howard County witness information clearinghouse on the web.
Did you see someone hit a car in a parking lot and drive away? Snap them with your cell or jot down the license number and post it.
Did you drive by the local high school as kids were “doing donuts” on the football field? Take some video and post it. Didn’t see the plate? No problem, someone might recognize the car – maybe the parents.
Political signs posted illegally? snap the photo – post it online.
Police smacking someone around? Post it.
Someone driving while reading the paper and talking on the cell phone? Parent going nuts yelling at a teenage umpire? Coach going nuts yelling at a player? Someone letting their dog go in the park and not cleaning it up?
We’ll call it “Caught in the Act”.
Now, I just need a good lawyer.