Howard County Maryland Blog

Local Politics and Current Events

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.

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9 Responses to “People Behaving Badly – on the internet”

  1. MBT said

    Cindy, we had a similar situation in an accident back in the ’90’s in College Park when another driver pulled out in fornt of us on Route 1, allowing at best, 50 feet – and he was looking the other way. He had a sports UT, we had a Honda. He came out accusing my husband of driving too fast (we had just stopped at an adjacent stop light and couldn’t have been going more than 20 mph). Luckily, a woman saw the accident, stopped and gave us her information. She was contacted later by the insurance company because the other driver had lied and gave the same “he was going to fast” story to the investigator. He wound up paying for a whole new front end – radiator, hood, fenders, supports, and assundry other problems in a car that was off blue book for years.

    I called the witness back and thanked her. She said she stopped because of a similar situation she found herself in and a witness saved the day.

    It is too bad that so many people are willing to lie.

  2. Hayduke said

    I like this idea…

    Let this also serve as a warning to those who fail to pick up after their pets. I’ve stepped in too many “landmines” to let the next offender I see off without snapping a photo first. (And, yes, Mr. Finch’s “presents” are never left waiting for an unsuspecting shoe.)

  3. numbers.girl said

    Amen, Hayduke. I don’t even have a dog, but the neighbor’s dog insists on relieving herself in the direct path between my back door and my garage. *grrrrrowl*

  4. MBT said

    Numbers.Girl and Heyduke – they are presents your furry friends made just for you – it shows you they love you! 😉

    However, I must agree – if you don’t want your yard messed up, perhaps it isn’t much of a stretch to realize that I don’t want mine messed up either. We’ve been growled at by pooches on leashes growling at us as we come out our fornt door – of course Fido was standing just next to our front door – in our yard – attached to a leash (and owner) and growling at us – in our yard …

    Bad manners indeed!

  5. bsflag2007 said

    In the “good old days” people would have been embarrassed for their neighbors to see or hear about them acting like this.

    I see people I know picking up after their pet in my yard – and I sure make every effort to pick up after my dogs — in fact, we occasionally do a “general poop scoop” around the cul de sac to make up for any messes we miss the rest of the time.

    If people thought they were going to be “caught in the act” and have their photos posted maybe they would be more conscientious.

    Though I think my son has the best idea…. when he takes the dogs for a “walk” – he basically runs them to the park and back, never giving them a chance to stop and “go”… that way he doesn’t have to clean anything up. Of course it defeats the purpose, but everyone gets some exercise.

    btw – “caughtintheact.com” is already taken (pornographic site, what a shock) – so any suggestions for the site would be appreciated.

    cindy v

  6. Brandy said

    Numbersgirl- how do you know it’s the neighbor’s dog? Now if you excuse me, I have some “presents” to deliver…

  7. bsflag2007 said

    Brandy – I can’t answer for Numbers girl – but I can tell you from my own experience that no dog steps foot in my yard without warning alarms homeland security would envy going off.

    [A human burglar would probably be greeting by a slobbery kiss – but if any canine (or feline or squirrel) tries to burgle us they are in for a fight.]

    I am well aware of the travels of neighboring dogs, and am well aware of which visitors clean up after their dogs and which ones don’t. If numbers girl says she knows which dog makes a habit of depositing in the same spot – I’d tend to believe she knows what she is talking about.

    I’ll also mention this – I try not to let my dogs relieve themselves in the yards of neighbors who do not own pets or who have small children who play in their yards. Even though I clean up after my pets – you can’t always get “all of it”, and for folks who don’t have pets – I just don’t think they should have to deal with anything to do with mine. Sadly, I can’t be a sure about what my kids do – so we try to make it up to the neighbors by snow blowing everyones sidewalks and driveways.

    Cindy V.

  8. We always pickup after our dogs in the yard, at the park or on the street. We did so in the city. When I lived in Canton I knew a guy who would pick up after someone else’s dog and then follow the offender back to their house and leave the bomb on the offender’s front stoop. When the offender came out the front door the next time they got a big surprise.

    I had an accident on the JFX once and the party at fault accepted 100% responsibility. It was refreshing.

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