Idiotic Idea of the Day

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wants to install devices in cars to disable cell phones.

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood wants to install devices in cars to disable cell phones:

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said using a cell phone while driving is so dangerous that devices may soon be installed in cars to forcibly stop drivers — and potentially anyone else in the vehicle — from using them.

“There’s a lot of technology out there now that can disable phones and we’re looking at that,” said LaHood on MSNBC. LaHood said the cellphone scramblers were one way, and also stressed the importance of “personal responsibility.” …

“I think it will be done,” said LaHood. “I think the technology is there and I think you’re going to see the technology become adaptable in automobiles to disable these cell phones. We need to do a lot more if were going to save lives.”

In short, the Obama Cabinet’s token Republican thinks “personal responsibility” means the federal government taking away your right to make a judgment as to whether or not to use even a hands-free phone in your car, take advantage of your smartphone’s GPS navigation, call 9-1-1 if you’re in an accident or for directions when you’re lost, or even if your passengers can make cell phone calls in your car. And God help you if a family member has an emergency while you’re behind the wheel. Even better: This will increase the cost of any car you buy, so you get to pay for the Nanny State’s notions of “personal responsibility.”

When I was a kid, my dad owned a small business repairing electronics. For a couple of years in the late 70’s he made nice money from customers who brought their cars in to have the buzzer that wouldn’t turn off if they didn’t buckle their seatbelt disabled until the car companies realized what a wretched idea that “feature” was. If this goes through, I predict a booming business providing similar services.

H/T Brandon Kiser

FILED UNDER: US Politics
Dodd Harris
About Dodd Harris
Dodd, who used to run a blog named ipse dixit, is an attorney, a veteran of the United States Navy, and a fairly good poker player. He contributed over 650 pieces to OTB between May 2007 and September 2013. Follow him on Twitter @Amuk3.

Comments

  1. Steve Verdon says:

    1….2….3…and now a word from our resident lick spittle statist….

  2. Brett says:

    This sounds like a stupid and impractical idea.

    That said, it would be nice if we could have the police levy higher fines on idiots they catch texting while driving.

  3. James Joyner says:

    My wife’s 2010 Toyota Sienna still has the annoying buzzer. It goes “DING DING DING” rather than buzzing.

  4. Linda says:

    Okie doke, La Hood. That sounds like a nifty neato idea!
    But what ya gonna do ’bout folks who read books, newspapers, mail?
    Or eat?
    Or apply makeup?
    Or any of the other myriad things that distract drivers, that are not texting devices?
    Hmmmm?

  5. Dodd says:

    My wife’s 2010 Toyota Sienna still has the annoying buzzer. It goes “DING DING DING” rather than buzzing.

    For how long? Don’t they all shut off after a short period now (I always wear my seatbelt, so I wouldn’t know without experimenting)? The buzzers I’m referring to never did — and were loud and brash.

  6. Franklin says:

    Hands free cell phones don’t help AT ALL, and anybody making a judgment otherwise is an idiot. But, the remainder of your arguments are pretty sound. In fact I know of another situation that came up with an acquaintance: a strange car bumped his (nice) car quite purposefully and then chased him around for awhile before crashing. In that case, I could certainly accept somebody making a phone call to the police while driving.

  7. Alex Knapp says:

    I look forward to the same people who defend the TSA Full Body Scanners on the grounds that it’s okay to have naked photos of you distriibuted among TSA employees in the off chance that maybe it might prevent a terrorist attack, even though they don’t actually detect explosives to defend this measure, as well.

    FWIW, Dodd, I wholeheartedly endorse this being a stupid idea.

  8. Mithras says:

    Finally, an issue that liberals and conservatives can agree on. In related news, MADD wants all new cars to have ignition-interlock systems installed so that drivers must pass a breathalyzer before starting the vehicle.

  9. Linda says:

    The idea of personal responsibility escapes so many in this administration. See my earlier post.

  10. wr says:

    Oh, the outrage. All the righties rising up together to protest for individual liberties.

    Of course, this would be more inspiring if you hadn’t all cheered when the last administration started torturing suspects, spying on citizens, and claiming they had the right to incarcerate anyone indefinitely based on accusations.

    But those guys were Republicans. So if they torture a few people to death, that’s freedom.

  11. rodney dill says:

    Of course, this would be more inspiring if you hadn’t all cheered when the last administration started torturing suspects, spying on citizens, and claiming they had the right to incarcerate anyone indefinitely based on accusations.

    Where are your sources exactly on conservatives supporting the torturing of citizens, spying on citizens, and incarcerating citizens indefinitely?

  12. Tano says:

    Personally, I don’t think this approach makes much sense, but that shouldn’t stop me from kicking in my critique of the arguments laid out here.

    “the federal government taking away your right to make a judgment as to whether or not to use…”

    The problem that the libertarians always seem to ignore is that there is more at stake here than the individual and his/her right to drive a certain way. You are driving on public roads, projecting a ton or two of weight at very high speeds, where the loss of control can have fatal consequences on other people. And it happens a lot. So if you mount an argument that totally ignores the terrible consequences of the action, don’t be surprised if you don’t end up convincing anyone beyond your fellow ideologues.

    “take advantage of your smartphone’s GPS navigation”

    I suspect that the filters could discriminate between functions.

    “, call 9-1-1 if you’re in an accident ”

    I also imagine that the filters could only be turned on while the car is moving.

    “or for directions when you’re lost”

    ditto – just stop before you call. You are lost, after all.

    “or even if your passengers can make cell phone calls in your car. And God help you if a family member has an emergency while you’re behind the wheel. …[and] increase the cost of any car you buy”

    These are the good arguments you put forth. I agree with those concerns.

  13. Steve Verdon says:

    The problem that the libertarians always seem to ignore is that there is more at stake here than the individual and his/her right to drive a certain way. You are driving on public roads, projecting a ton or two of weight at very high speeds, where the loss of control can have fatal consequences on other people. And it happens a lot. So if you mount an argument that totally ignores the terrible consequences of the action, don’t be surprised if you don’t end up convincing anyone beyond your fellow ideologues.

    No libertarian is saying people should not be held responsible. Next straw man.

  14. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    That which governs best, governs least.

  15. Drew says:

    And now, here is Secy LaHood to tell you about his decision to give up sex, and what it means for you……

  16. Tano says:

    ‘No libertarian is saying people should not be held responsible.”

    Thats a great comfort to me Steve, that the bastid who murdered my family is going to be brought up on charges.
    As I said, I do not think this particular proposal makes any sense, but I am not unalterably opposed to other measures that might minimize the chance that these things do happen, rather than simply enforce responsibility afterwards.

  17. Steve Verdon says:

    Thats a great comfort to me Steve, that the bastid who murdered my family is going to be brought up on charges.

    Yeah, that is how it works in this country. We don’t have “pre-crimes”…well yet. With people like you who knows.

    And a person who makes a mistakes and causes a fatal car accident is not murder. They maybe

    As I said, I do not think this particular proposal makes any sense…

    But you’ll essentially defend it anyhow. Seriously, you think it is ill advised, but at the same time make an argument in its favor and speculate that other valid phone functions wont be negatively affected.

  18. rodney dill says:

    I thought Tano brought up some good points on what technology could do to restrict phone usage in a car without just outright jamming them. I’ve been struggling a little my self with what level of preventative versus, after the fact accountability is desirable. Any preventative mechanism seems to have significant impact on personal rights.

    The closest analogy may be driving and drinking. While we have the technology to have a car not start without the driver doing a breathalyzer we don’t enforce it except in some cases of repeat offenders. We have stiff fines and jail time for offenders, but nothing really prevents you from drinking and driving if that is your intent.

  19. Mithras says:

    Airport pornoscanners, Red light cameras. Home drug test kits. Now this. There is always some new piece of high technology that promises to finally eliminate whatever threat we’re worried about. And so long as people can make money from selling such gear, they’ll do their best to convince other people and governments to buy them.

  20. rodney dill says:

    Yeah, that is how it works in this country. We don’t have “pre-crimes”…well yet. With people like you who knows.

    Interestingly enough Michigan and I think other states have considered or have enacted limits on teen riders with teenage drivers. This would definitely be a ‘preventative’ type law, rather than relying on personal responsibility. I think in some cases this could put more teen drivers on the road, or more drivers, as parents will need to drive their teens or have them drive themselves, if they can no longer catch rides.

  21. mantis says:

    The Department of Transportation cannot unilaterally require cell phone disabling in cars. Congress would have to do that.

  22. Tano says:

    “Yeah, that is how it works in this country. We don’t have “pre-crimes”…well yet. ”

    That is total BS. We do plenty of things to prevent accidents from ever happening. Are you, for example, against speed limits? Is it your position that only a statist would try to prevent you from driving through a residential neighborhood at 80 mph? After all, if you do end up running over the child, you will go to jail – so whats the problem? Is that your position?

    “And a person who makes a mistakes and causes a fatal car accident is not murder.”

    Hah! Mr. Personal Responsibility, eh? If you walk into a mall and fire a weapon while waving your arm around randomly, and kill people, is that murder? What if you accelerate 2 tons of steel to 70 mph on a public road and then shift your attention to a phone call?

    “Seriously, you think it is ill advised, but at the same time make an argument in its favor”

    I made no arguments whatsoever in favor. I simply criticized some of the arguments against.

  23. rodney dill says:

    We do plenty of things to prevent accidents from ever happening. Are you, for example, against speed limits?

    Speed limits is another good example of relying on personal responsibility. Nothing in your car prevents you from exceeding the speed limit. The corollary to disabling cell phones in cars would be if you car ‘read’ the speed limit and enacted a governor to prevent your speeding.

  24. Drew says:

    rodney –

    Here in IL a first offender DUI now has to put a device on his/her car that he/she must blow into before it will start. Then, every ten minutes (in an attempt to avoid the “designated blower” problem) blow again or the horn and lights go berserk.

    Alternative: 6 month licence suspension.

    I’m all for DUI enforcement………………………..but how about dealing with repeat offenders, and not terrorizing people exiting Morton’s Steak House after 3 glasses of wine?

  25. rodney dill says:

    I think I agree with you Drew, I’m not advocating breathalyzers in cars (except for repeat offenders, which I mentioned). I was just trying to compare the disabling of cell phones in cars to preventatively prohibit cell phone use while driving — to be similar to making all drivers have a breathalyzer to start their car as a means to stop drunk driving. I don’t think either is really feasible.

  26. Drew says:

    rodney –

    It was just a point of information.

  27. mantis says:

    “And a person who makes a mistakes and causes a fatal car accident is not murder.”

    Hah! Mr. Personal Responsibility, eh? If you walk into a mall and fire a weapon while waving your arm around randomly, and kill people, is that murder? What if you accelerate 2 tons of steel to 70 mph on a public road and then shift your attention to a phone call?

    Murder is a legal term. Vehicular homicide and murder are different crimes. Manslaughter and murder are different crimes. As for your waving gun hypothetical, that could be prosecuted as murder or manslaughter, depending on the circumstances (diminished capacity, etc.). Proving malice aforethought (intent to kill) might be difficult in such a case, again depending on the circumstances. Your second example would under almost no circumstances be considered murder.

  28. floyd says:

    The key may be in awareness and peer pressure.
    Text with a twenty-something in the car and watch for a reaction.
    then light a cigarette!!!!

  29. Dave Schuler says:

    As the picture at the top of this post suggests, if they could figure out a way to disable lipstick tubes and mascara applicators they might be on to something.

  30. Steve Verdon says:

    That is total BS. We do plenty of things to prevent accidents from ever happening. Are you, for example, against speed limits?

    A regulation that says don’t and still relies on driver compliance is not the same as say having a device in your car that prevented you from driving above the posted limit on any given road. It still has as a component people behaving responsibly and facing the consequences if they don’t. So you analogy is false.

    Is it your position that only a statist would try to prevent you from driving through a residential neighborhood at 80 mph?

    No. It is entirely possible that a community through voluntary means could come up with speed limits as well.

    After all, if you do end up running over the child, you will go to jail – so whats the problem? Is that your position?

    I think it is telling that you consider your opponents to be nearly inhuman monsters who don’t value human life. Pretty despicable. Of course not. I’m going to drive at a reasonable speed given the environment. If I’m in a residential area I’ll drive slowly, such as 35 and even 25 mph. Not just because it is the law, but because I don’t want to run over a child and have to deal with that kind of an event. It wouldn’t be good for anyone involved.

    ah! Mr. Personal Responsibility, eh? If you walk into a mall and fire a weapon while waving your arm around randomly, and kill people, is that murder?

    I would imagine not. That wouldn’t mean that a crime wasn’t committed, just not murder.

    What if you accelerate 2 tons of steel to 70 mph on a public road and then shift your attention to a phone call?

    Given the context it is likely to be a freeway–i.e. limited to only other motor vehicles. Hence it is unlikely I’m going to run over that cute girl chasing the ball. If an accident does happen then if other drivers are involved they’d be in their 2 ton vehicles as well which would offer some protection. If they used the safety devices in their car (namely the seat belt) injuries should be minimal. Still, I’d say it should up to the drivers to make that determination. Generally, I’d suggest avoid using a cell phone, putting on make up, and other such things.

    I made no arguments whatsoever in favor. I simply criticized some of the arguments against.

    Sure whatever you say.

  31. Tano says:

    “A regulation that says don’t and still relies on driver compliance is not the same as say having a device in your car…”

    I was not arguing in defense of the phone-disabler, rather the larger question of whether it is appropriate to use the laws to try to prevent accidents, rather than simply accept that they will happen and punish those responsible afterwards.

    Would you oppose a law that had heavy penalites for cell-phone use while driving?

    “It is entirely possible that a community through voluntary means could come up with speed limits as well.’

    What on earth does that mean? If it is a “limit” and has any meaning, then it is to be enforced. It can’t be voluntary, else it is meaningless. If “the community” comes up with a speed limit that is to be enforced, how is that different than what we have now? Our local governments are simply “the community” coming together under a formal system of democracy.

    “I think it is telling that you consider your opponents to be nearly inhuman monsters who don’t value human life.”

    No, I think y’all are decent people in the thrall of an overly simplistic political model that leads very quickly to absurd outcomes. Thats why I discuss these things with you.

    “I’m going to drive at a reasonable speed given the environment.”

    Thats not the issue. The issue is whether the government should have any power to compel you to do this, by punishing you severely if you don’t – even if you don’t kill anyone while speeding.

    “If they used the safety devices in their car (namely the seat belt) injuries should be minimal.”

    Thats ridiculous. Innocent people, fully strapped in and air-bag protected, are killed every single day in this country.

    “Still, I’d say it should up to the drivers to make that determination. ”

    Right, that is the problem. The only thing you consider is the individual actor – yourself. Everyone else is just part of the landscape.

  32. mantis says:

    I was not arguing in defense of the phone-disabler, rather the larger question of whether it is appropriate to use the laws to try to prevent accidents, rather than simply accept that they will happen and punish those responsible afterwards.

    So, a strawman then? We have speed limits, and methods of enforcement of them. Those methods do not include mandating that cars be physically incapable of exceeding the speed limit. A cell phone disabler would make it impossible for anyone, driver or not, to use a cell phone in a car (and perhaps in an undefined radius around that car). Do you not see the difference?

    What on earth does that mean? If it is a “limit” and has any meaning, then it is to be enforced.

    He was responding directly to your question here:

    Is it your position that only a statist would try to prevent you from driving through a residential neighborhood at 80 mph?

    And his answer was basically no, people other than statists can be in favor of speed limits. Your response is to change your argument. Again.

    No, I think y’all are decent people in the thrall of an overly simplistic political model that leads very quickly to absurd outcomes.

    Really? Because it looked a lot more like you were saying that the only reason someone who is opposed to such measures would avoid running over a child is to avoid jail:

    After all, if you do end up running over the child, you will go to jail – so whats the problem? Is that your position?

    Thats not the issue. The issue is whether the government should have any power to compel you to do this, by punishing you severely if you don’t – even if you don’t kill anyone while speeding.

    And he pointed out the difference between speed limits and devices that disable cell phones (if you missed it, here it is again: you can still speed despite the speed limit), and he never objected to speed limits per se. You ignore that, strangely.

    The only thing you consider is the individual actor

    We’re talking about individual decisions, such as whether to speed, whether to talk on the phone while driving, and whether the government should take action to make it impossible for individuals to make those decisions. This entire argument centers around the actions of individual actors. That you dismiss the central component of the discussion as not only irrelevant, but insulting to even consider, reveals a lot….about you.

  33. Steve Verdon says:

    No, I think y’all are decent people in the thrall of an overly simplistic political model that leads very quickly to absurd outcomes. Thats why I discuss these things with you.

    Right and you are nuanced and well thought out. We are ideologues and you are a beacon of objectivity and reason.

    And his answer was basically no, people other than statists can be in favor of speed limits. Your response is to change your argument. Again.

    Mantis got it. I’m not opposed to speed limits. I like crossing the road while walking occasionally and know that most cars are going to be going the posted speed strikes me as a good thing. I don’t want to run anyone over. Not only would there be issues like possibly jail, damage to my car, and a lawsuit, but (and the biggest reason) I’d feel like shit (whether it was my fault or not). So I would (and do) moderate my driving for the situation.

    And I’m not opposed to even after the fact enforcement. I don’t know of many libertarians who want absolutely no rule of law. Even the most extreme anarcho-capitalist will argue that a legal system will be needed…they’d just argue one would spontaneously occur due to the market. So this fantasy you are working on just isn’t even addressing my comments, but your own construct.

    A pretty amazing fail for some one so nuance, objective and using reason. But what do I know I’m just a deluded oaf following a simplistic political ideology.

    Thats ridiculous. Innocent people, fully strapped in and air-bag protected, are killed every single day in this country.

    Yes, I said should be minimal, I didn’t say the probability of death was zero. Again, another straw man.

  34. Mithras says:

    I’m so glad OTB can provide a forum for such gripping debates.

  35. Steve Verdon says:

    Yes, but at least I don’t put ice in my scotch.

  36. matt says:

    Well if you’re all up in a tizzy about drivers being distracted by cell phones then you should also advocate banning food, passengers, drinks, radios, pretty girls walking, non generic looking cars, traffic lights, road signs, cigarettes and more as all of those can distract the driver as much or more then a cell phone. I’ve been hit by a guy who was too busy checking out the parking lot to realize he was pulling into me. I had a friend who was rear ended cause the guy was too busy watching the traffic light change to green to notice the car that was accelerating. God knows how many times I’ve been distracted by a pretty girl walking down a sidewalk or an awesome muscle car driving by on a side street. I’ve seen people rotate to face the passengers in the backseat of their car while driving down the street at 80 mph. I’ve seen girls doing their makeup rather then driving properly. I mean really in the grand scheme of things cell phones (especially hands free sets) are merely one of any number of distractions we deal with every time we drive. Now I’m not advocating texting and I’m more then willing to assign extra blame to someone causing an accident while texting but I’m firmly against texting laws as they have proven to be ineffective and even abused by police..

  37. Trumwill says:

    I find it ironic that the same Department of Transportation that used emergency cell phone calls to bash Toyota wants to ban said cell phone calls. It’s not as though situations where people used cell phones in a car while moving has not come up. Relatively recently, even.

    A couple responses:

    Rodney: Interestingly enough Michigan and I think other states have considered or have enacted limits on teen riders with teenage drivers.

    Funny you should mention that. LaHood wants to take these laws national. I have mixed feelings about that myself, though I don’t mind it being implemented on local and statewide levels.

    The corollary to disabling cell phones in cars would be if you car ‘read’ the speed limit and enacted a governor to prevent your speeding.

    On a sidenote, I would love for this to be a feature on cars. Most of the times I am caught speeding, I am really not intending to speed. Mandated? That I have a bigger problem with for privacy reasons. It’s a non-issue, though, since speeders are a significant form of revenue. Governments would be more likely to ban governors rather than mandate them. Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but not much of one.

    Tano:Would you oppose a law that had heavy penalites for cell-phone use while driving

    Yeah, namely because they have proven to be pretty ineffective. This policy would be effective, but would cause other problems.

    I suspect that the filters could discriminate between functions.

    To some extent perhaps, but not as much as you might think. The same data connection used for texting is also used for streaming audio. As I understand it, GPS systems on phones can rely on both satellite and standard data connections (which is why Google’s roving maps are better than with standard GPS systems). Unless you forced the implementation on the cell phone makers, it’s not going to be easy to discriminate.

  38. Trumwill says:

    Matt: Well if you’re all up in a tizzy about drivers being distracted by cell phones then you should also advocate banning food, passengers, drinks, radios, pretty girls walking, non generic looking cars, traffic lights, road signs, cigarettes and more as all of those can distract the driver as much or more then a cell phone.

    This is a fair point. I remember a while back when people were talking about “road safety concerns” with smoking in the car. As someone that has smoked and eaten in the car, there’s really no contest as to which is more distracting. I would say food is actually more distracting than cell hones. But no one is going to touch drive-thrus. Smokers and cell phone talkers are just easier targets. Eating while driving is something that everyone can relate to.

  39. john personna says:

    The guy is obviously an imbecile, because he either thinks such a device could be selective for drivers or because he thinks passengers shouldn’t make phone calls.

    Throw him out, get someone who spends his time thinking about real problems.

  40. John Burgess says:

    Maybe it’s because I’m smart; maybe it’s because I’m not that good a driver, but the first time I tried to use a cell phone while driving, back in the early 90s, it became blindingly apparent that it was a major distraction. Unlike talking to the person next to me, it took a hell of a lot more brain cycles. In fact, it was like arguing with the person next to me. That, at least for me, would not change even if I had a hands-off phone.

    After that one episode, I set up a rule for my office, one I follow today. If I have a passenger, that passenger will handle my phone while the car’s in motion. If I’m driving alone, then I return the call or listen to the voice mail the next time I stop. If I’m expecting an important call, or have to make one, I’ll find a place to safely pull over.

    Short of an emergency 911 call, there are simply no calls so necessary that I have to make my driving that much more dangerous. I use a GPS, but I don’t dick around with it when the car’s in motion, either. A split second glance away from the road is not a major hazard: in fact, we’re supposed to be regularly sweeping our eyes across our instrument panel.

    I can put a sandwich in my mouth–but not open a package–while driving. I can raise a can or cup to my lips without looking away from the road. But I won’t try to open a can or bottle while the car’s in motion.

    If all other drivers followed my example, we wouldn’t need laws on cell phone use while driving. But they aren’t. So, I’m rooting for reasonable laws. The engine cut-out is not a reasonable law, however. It’s nanny-statism.

  41. Eric Florack says:

    In the end, what we have here is a bureaucrat who only has one tool in his chest … that being government. . No small wonder, then, that his first response to a perceived problem is the force of government.

  42. Herb says:

    Leaving aside whether this plan is feasible or not…….If we’re in agreement that distracted driving is dangerous, and I think we are, then I don’t see why in principle this is so outrageous. This strikes me as a better solution than arbitrarily pulling people over or issuing after-the-fact tickets at the scene of accidents, which is the solution we’re going to be left with. We’re never going to live in the world where the responsible phone-drivers get to drive phone-in-hand and the irresponsible ones don’t.

  43. Trumwill says:

    Herb, I have little or no doubt that the plan (to shut radio capabilities off cell phones in a car that’s moving) is feasible. The problem is that you’re almost certainly going to be taking legal, valid, and non-dangerous behavior and preventing people from engaging in it. That’s no small thing. There is no way to prevent drivers from using cell phones without also preventing passengers from doing so. It’s going to be difficult and impossible to prevent people from reading emails in the car without also preventing them from listening to streaming audio in their car. You can’t prevent them from surfing the Internet without also preventing interactivity on mapping programs with GPS and data connections.*

    All of this coming at a time when driving has never been safer**. Whatever the dangers of distracted driving, they are outweighed by other factors. Accidents are down. Fatalities are down. Injuries are down. We’re acting like there’s some sort of driving crisis going on and there is not. Cracking down and preventing a world of possibilities on things we can do with those little computers with phone capabilities is infuriating.

    * – Unless you change the phones themselves. That’s not even being discussed here. LaHood is apparently not the slightest bit concerned about these distinctions.

    ** – Okay, maybe it was when you were the only car on the road. But driving is safer now than it was when the cell phone reached consumers’ hands.

  44. Herb says:

    “”I have little or no doubt that the plan (to shut radio capabilities off cell phones in a car that’s moving) is feasible. ”

    I’m sure it’s possible….cell phone jamming equipment does exist. But I don’t think it’s currently legal to deploy it. If it was, movie theaters, restaurants, hotels, amusement parks, concert venues, and a whole bunch of other places would have them already.

  45. G.A.Phillips says:

    ***Finally, an issue that liberals and conservatives can agree on.***lol………

  46. John Personna says:

    It is a technical fail.

    There are jamming technologies but they all work on a radius. A car is not a perfect enough faraday cage to keep the jamming inside (or signals out). What are they going to do, put meshes on windows and prevent them from rolling down.

    I mentioned passengers before, but jammers would disable phones for people standing next to your car. Or, lol, every car that drove by you would wipe you out.

    When it is not remotely possible technically, the policy discussion is pointless.

  47. Herb says:

    More on my last comment: If the laws were changed to allow cell phone jammers, what would the libertarians think about movie theaters (or any of the others) deploying them?

    Secondary question: If it would be acceptable to block cell phones to ensure silence in a movie theater, why would it be out of line to block them on a highway to prevent road accidents?

  48. Herb says:

    “When it is not remotely possible technically, the policy discussion is pointless.”

    Actually, the technology isn’t the big limit here. It’s the law. The policy discussion is pointless….but that’s only because it’s illegal to block a cell phone signal.

  49. John Personna says:

    Explain how it is possible to focus on a driver’s cell phone, Herb.

    If tech is not an issue, you should be able to do that.

  50. Herb says:

    “Explain how it is possible to focus on a driver’s cell phone, Herb.”

    Yeah, I see that really being a big fly in the ointment for your typical all-powerful Nanny Stater. “We can’t focus on the driver? Oh well, so much for that idea.” No, they’ll probably implement it anyway, and cry buckets over the passengers that won’t be able to make phone calls anymore.

  51. John Personna says:

    Implement what anyway? Making every car on the road a leaky jammer? Ate you serious?

  52. John Personna says:

    Heh, this won’t be possible until we get HAL level computers in our cars.

    “I can’t let you make that phone call, Dave”

  53. Trumwill says:

    Herb:But I don’t think it’s currently legal to deploy it.

    Presumably, a step along the way that LaHood wants to take us down changes that. At least for cars. That would almost assuredly be a part of the law we’re talking about.

    If it would be acceptable to block cell phones to ensure silence in a movie theater, why would it be out of line to block them on a highway to prevent road accidents?

    I’m not a libertarian, but even I know the answer to that one: Movie theaters are privately owned and the owner would have discretion over what devices to deploy on their own property. I suspect that libertarians would be similarly opposed to the government forcing movie theaters to implement these jammers.

    At least that’s my take. I wouldn’t have a problem with movie theaters putting in jammers (provided that notice was posted). I would oppose a law requiring it. Since I like to websurf on my phone, I probably would avoid theaters that did implement this policy. Unless, of course, all of them did. Which is quite possible.

    John Personna: I mentioned passengers before, but jammers would disable phones for people standing next to your car. Or, lol, every car that drove by you would wipe you out.

    My guess is that it would be inexact.

    On the weak side: Strong enough to jam it in the front but probably not enough to jam it in the back if you hold it just right. Might even be able to get away with it in the front if you stick it by the window, though it would probably be a pain in the rear. One can imagine accidents occurring because someone is trying to find the sweet spot where they know their phone does work.

    On the strong side: Enough that only someone hiding in the back of a van will be able to make calls and anyone who happens to be walking too close to a car down the street will lose their signal.

    Also, it’s difficult to imagine that there wouldn’t be ways around this unless the jamming signal is really strong. Putting an antenna outside the car, for instance, that you can hook your phone into. It’d be like those laws about a TV in the car. if they’re in the front, they’re supposed to turn off when the car is in motion, but people can rig it so that they don’t come off. Or they play movies on some other device, circumventing the spirit of the law. I’d imagine it would work the same way with the jammers. People disable them or work around them with an external antenna.

    But most people wouldn’t. For the same reason that most iPhone users don’t bother to circumvent Jobs, most drivers won’t bother to circumvent this law if it were to come to pass. Except maybe passengers holding their hands out the window trying to get a signal or calling from the back of a van.

  54. Herb says:

    “Making every car on the road a leaky jammer? Ate you serious?”

    No, because that would be illegal.

  55. Herb says:

    “I’m not a libertarian, but even I know the answer to that one: Movie theaters are privately owned and the owner would have discretion over what devices to deploy on their own property. ”

    Hmmm….I don’t find that persuasive. The roads are publicly owned and managed by the state, but the state isn’t afforded the same discretion? Simply because we’re not talking about a “privately owned” asset?

    What if it was a private road?

  56. Tano says:

    Mantis,

    Sorry I am getting back to this so late. But…
    Y’know, its not really helpful to jump into the middle of other people’s arguments, unless you are willing to take the time to understand the flow of it.

    I began my comments on this thread by stating that I did not support this phone-jamming idea. Knowing the way things go in threads like this, I made it a point to repeat that opinion several times. Steve, for his own reasons, chose to pretend that I really didn’t believe that – that I was somehow really in favor, even though I listed quite plainly the reasons I was opposed.

    Now you come along and argue with me as if I was a supporter of these devices. Are you playing the same games as Steve, or are you just not really paying attention?

    Further, you write: “his answer was basically no, people other than statists can be in favor of speed limits.”

    Yeah, I know. He said the “community” can come together and make a speed limit. Thats the system that we have now, isn’t it? That is certainly the system that I support. Does that make me a statist? It is also the same “community” that might decide (and many do) that talking on a cell phone while driving shall be illegal. Is that statism too:? Does this “community” somehow lose legitimacy when it does that?

    Another point
    “Because it looked a lot more like you were saying that the only reason someone who is opposed to such measures would avoid running over a child is to avoid jail:”

    Huh? Talk about strawmen. Steve has been proposing “personal responsibility” as the alternative to government regulation. When I laid out the example of someone killing another person because they lose control of their car while phoning, Steve countered that libertarians believe that people should be responsible for their actions. That, of course, is too late for the victims. So I challenged him on that point. I took the opportunity to reiterate my opposition to the phonejammer, but I stated that I thought it perfectly legitimate to have other laws that try to prevent accidents from happening. To this, Steve basically voiced opposition – we don’t have “pre-crimes” or something like that.

    That was the discussion. There was no personal attack against Steve or any libertarian as being a murderer, or being uncaring about killing children. There was no argument from me about libertarians driving responsibly only because they wish to avoid jail. The argument was that it is legitimate for government to enact laws that seek to prevent accidents from happening, when certain behaviors are known to cause such accidents. Steve argued the contrary, at least at this general level. Now it seems that he does support speed limts. So he does, in fact, support the government enacting laws that seek to prevent accidents from happening.

    Hey, he is the one calling me a “lick spittle statist” even though I agree that this particular proposal is unwise, and apparantly I also agree with him at the more general level that some government effort to prevent accidents are legitimate.

    It does take some time to get from the name-calling stage down to understanding the differences, or lack thereof. Now, what exactly is your problem?

  57. Trumwill says:

    Herb: What if it was a private road?

    If it’s a private road, on private property, I think the same rules would apply as with a movie theater. Public roads, however, are for public use. Private property is not purchased for public use except (with some exceptions) for the benefit of the owner. Public property is purchased either for public use or to house institutions that benefit the public. I hold the government to a different standard.

    As I said earlier, I’m not a libertarian so my views on these things are more… flexible… than the views of some. I don’t question whether the government has the right to do it. I do question whether the government should. And unlike with private property, those are my roads, too. So I have greater standing to offer up my opinion on what rules are applied to their usage. I can offer up an opinion on the movie theater, but other than patronage/boycott I don’t have much reason to expect my opinion to be taken into account. And since I don’t want their opinion impressed upon me: bygones.

    The actual libertarian answer to all of this may (for some) be that roads ought to be privatized and therefore the same rules that apply to movie theaters ought to apply to roads. I’m not on board with that, though.

  58. mantis says:

    Y’know, its not really helpful to jump into the middle of other people’s arguments, unless you are willing to take the time to understand the flow of it.

    I understood the flow of it. You were full of shit.

    Now, what exactly is your problem?

    You, deliberately misstating other people’s arguments, as you have just done again above, in service of defending things which you proclaim to be against at the outset, and then when people respond pointing out your deliberate misstatements, moving the goalposts around to claim you were arguing something else all along, and by the way you’re not even really for these things you were defending. In short, you’re a peddler of nonsense arguments and muddled thinking.

    Hey, he is the one calling me a “lick spittle statist

    Perhaps because even when you say you’re against giving the government more power over its citizens, you still argue for it.

  59. Tano says:

    Mantis,

    Maybe we should just say good night now, you seem to be losing it pretty bad.

    I have not misstated anyones argument. It is you and Steve who have accused me of calling him insensitive to running over kids, when I said nothing whatsoever of the kind.

    My very first statement in this thread was to make clear that I opposed this particular proposal, but that I had critiques of some of the reasons that Dodd laid out for his opposition. And I had more general disagreements with the approach that he and other libertarians take on these issues. I have not shifted any goalposts at all. Very quickly, the conversation with Steve focused on the more general question of whether or not governments should, or do, pass laws to prevent accidents. That is what I was trying to address, and my statements were consistent.

    You then jumped in basically arguing against the jammer, implying mistakenly that I was for it. And you further make the really bizarre claim that I was accusing him of driving responsibly only out of an interest in avoiding jail. And then, winning hands down the trifecta of absurdity, you claim that because I accuse him of only considering the perspective of the individual actor, I am therefore dismissing the individual actor myself. Essentially arguing that if I ask him to consider the context, I am demanding he ignore the central player.

    So you see, I really do wonder what your problem is. You seem to have decided to attack me for some reason – maybe I annoy you or something – and so you flounder around making ridiculous charges. Try to read for comprehension, rather than for ammunition. And lets try this again some other time. I have, up till today, often appreciated your contributions here, so I do feel this has been a very bizarre exchange.

  60. Herb says:

    “The actual libertarian answer to all of this may (for some) be that roads ought to be privatized and therefore the same rules that apply to movie theaters ought to apply to roads. I’m not on board with that, though.”

    Hmm….still not convinced that “public” versus “private” is the best lens to look at this through. I think we can all agree that this is a bad idea. We just don’t agree on why.

    It’s easy to shrug it off as a tool of the “nanny state,” but really it’s that nanny state that keeps the cell phone network open. The nanny state is saying NO to the movie theaters, to the concert venues, to anyone else who wants to block cell phones. It’s doubtful that the government will mandate cell phone blocking technology in every vehicle.

    But it’s highly like that some over-protective parent may install one for their kids.

    In short, I don’t think the nanny state is what we should be worrying about here…..if anything, we should all say three prayers to the nanny state gods so that they bestow upon us some more nannying.

  61. Trumwill says:

    Herb, take note that I have not used the word “nanny state” here or anywhere else. I agree with the libertarian distinction of Public and Private, but sometimes I say “regulate public anyway.” This isn’t one of those cases, though.

    IIf it were possible to invent a device that would be limited only to drivers, did not affect passengers, did not affect streaming music, did not affect emergency calls, did not affect GPS, and so on… I’d probably be for it. But that’s simply not possible. LaHood frankly comes across as the kind of guy who is willing to sacrifice my convenience in a number of respects to reach his desired goal of eliminating cell phone use in the car. Some movie theater owner wants to do it… well, it’s his property as far as I am concerned. Public roads, however, are owned by the state and by extension the people. I have a stake in that.

    Tangentially, I did a bit of looking into it and the “law” against jamming actually seems somewhat tenuous. In fact, it doesn’t seem to be a law as much as an FCC regulation. The FCC’s interpretation of what spectrum ownership means. I don’t even think it would require an act of congress to modify it and carve out an exception for vehicles the same way we have exceptions for police activity. Do I think it’s likely? No. But I don’t think it’s impossible.

  62. john personna says:

    My guess is that it would be inexact

    I can’t imagine that it would remotely work.

    In your thought experiment you described one car, one source, with its affect on passengers.

    Not imagine1000 cars on a boulevard, and the cumulative effect on pedestrians, and even adjacent businesses.

  63. john personna says:

    (That’s assuming that the kind of extreme fine-tuning on range you imagine within a car were even possible, and reliable, after 40K miles.)

  64. rodney dill says:

    “Making every car on the road a leaky jammer? Ate you serious?”

    No, because that would be illegal.

    Just a point, saying its illegal isn’t much of an argument as requiring phone jamming internal to cars would require legislation which would in turn would make it legal.

  65. rodney dill says:

    As people already have Cancer concerns over cell phone, Jamming would expose one (involuntarily) to a constant dose of the same waves as the cell phone.

  66. Herb says:

    “Just a point, saying its illegal isn’t much of an argument”

    Agreed, but then again I’m not arguing in favor of this. If anything, I’m arguing that fears of the nanny state are wildly overblown. If cellphone blocking technology were legal, the very last application you would see is a government mandate to install them in all vehicles.

  67. mantis says:

    I have not misstated anyones argument.

    Let us count the ways.

    Dodd said:

    “the federal government taking away your right to make a judgment as to whether or not to use even a hands-free phone in your car, take advantage of your smartphone’s GPS navigation, call 9-1-1 if you’re in an accident or for directions when you’re lost, or even if your passengers can make cell phone calls in your car. “

    And you twist it into this:

    “So if you mount an argument that totally ignores the terrible consequences of the action, don’t be surprised if you don’t end up convincing anyone beyond your fellow ideologues.”

    He was ignoring the consequences of using GPS or calling 911 after an accident? No, he was ignoring the consequences of whatever Tano imagined him doing, because Tano “suspects” and “imagines” that technology will allow him to do those things and thus he must have been going 40 over the limit and holding a conference call with a blindfold on, or something. When Steve points out that libertarians don’t “ignore the terrible consequences,” and that’s why there are laws to prevent people from driving recklessly and negligently, Tano responds that Steve (and libertarians) want to “simply enforce responsibility afterwards.” Well, no, dipshit, he was responding to your contention that libertarians don’t care about the consequences of actions. So you misstated the original argument, and when your misstatement yields a response, you move the goalposts back and claim Steve is making an argument he didn’t make. But let’s move on, shall we?

    Steve then responds by telling you we don’t have pre-crimes (i.e. we don’t issue punishments for criminal actions not yet taken, at least in most cases), and you tell us that speed limits are just that (they aren’t), and then build up a nice strawman about how Steve thinks only statists think there should be speed limits, and follow that up with your complete misunderstanding of what the term “murder” means, which serves as the basis for again misstating Steve’s argument. You then claim, ludicrously, that you haven’t been making arguments in favor of disabling cell phones in car, when anyone can see that’s exactly what you’re doing, despite your preliminary disclaimer.

    When Steve then responds to point out the difference between making something against the law and requiring devices that make that action and others impossible, you then claim you were addressing “the larger question of whether it is appropriate to use the laws to try to prevent accidents, rather than simply accept that they will happen and punish those responsible afterwards.” Problem there is, despite what you think, no one was arguing against that position. No one argued against speed limits, or other laws meant to prevent certain behaviors rather than just punish people for the consequences of those behaviors once they occur. You were battling a strawman, made of your misstatements of Steve’s argument. But you didn’t end there.

    You then misstate Steve’s position when he was responding to your question about whether “only a statist” would support speed limits. He pointed out that there are perfectly non-statist ways people might support speed limits, and your response was to misstate Steve’s position as saying the speed limits were voluntary, when it was actually the community voluntarily setting the speed limit (as opposed to having it handed down from the State of Federal Govt.) in his hypothetical.

    Then when Steve tells you he thinks speed limits are preferable to the government installing devices to regulate speed:

    “Still, I’d say it should up to the drivers to make that determination. ”

    Your response is:

    Right, that is the problem. The only thing you consider is the individual actor – yourself. Everyone else is just part of the landscape.

    So if he thinks we should be able to make choices, and live with the consequences, that means he considers everyone else part of the landscape? He said nothing like that. His argument was against the government installing devices in our cars that take our decisions away from us. That doesn’t mean he thinks everyone else on the road is the equivalent of inanimate objects.

    That’s when I jumped in, sick of seeing such a pathetic excuse for a liberal battle straw for so long. It annoys me when liberals are so full of shit, because I believe we can win arguments on the merits, not by constantly misstating everyone else’s arguments. After I did, of course, you start in on me.

    Now you come along and argue with me as if I was a supporter of these devices. Are you playing the same games as Steve, or are you just not really paying attention?

    Other than your first sentence, you argued in favor of these the whole thread, when you weren’t attacking Steve for being opposed to seat belts and other things you imagined him saying.

    He said the “community” can come together and make a speed limit. Thats the system that we have now, isn’t it?

    Yes, and his point was that setting speed limits is not by definition something only a statist would do.

    Does that make me a statist?

    You are dense, aren’t you?

    It is also the same “community” that might decide (and many do) that talking on a cell phone while driving shall be illegal. Is that statism too:? Does this “community” somehow lose legitimacy when it does that?

    Again, the argument you ignore, misstate, and just plain lie about is that there is a difference between making talking on a cell phone while driving illegal, and the government installing devices on phones that prevent occupants from using them. This has been stated clearly and repeatedly, and one can only conclude from your steadfast refusal to recognize it that you are full of shit, only interested in battling straw.

    Steve has been proposing “personal responsibility” as the alternative to government regulation.

    Nope, he has not.

    I stated that I thought it perfectly legitimate to have other laws that try to prevent accidents from happening. To this, Steve basically voiced opposition – we don’t have “pre-crimes” or something like that.

    No, you said, “Thats a great comfort to me Steve, that the bastid who murdered my family is going to be brought up on charges.” in response to Steve’s rebuttal to your argument that libertarians ignore the consequences of people’s actions. He then explained that we don’t punish people for crimes they haven’t committed (pre-crimes). He did not argue against laws that try to prevent accidents, he argued against laws that required government devices to control our behavior.

    There was no personal attack against Steve or any libertarian as being a murderer, or being uncaring about killing children

    Actually, your implication was pretty clear that libertarians don’t give a shit about killing kids, and would do it all the time if there weren’t laws against it.

    The argument was that it is legitimate for government to enact laws that seek to prevent accidents from happening, when certain behaviors are known to cause such accidents. Steve argued the contrary, at least at this general level

    No, he didn’t, and the fact that you don’t see that is exactly my problem with you. Are you getting it yet?

    Now it seems that he does support speed limts. So he does, in fact, support the government enacting laws that seek to prevent accidents from happening.

    He didn’t change his position. You assumed he had one position and battled that straw for most of the thread. You’re just too dense to realize it earlier than you did.

    And I had more general disagreements with the approach that he and other libertarians take on these issues.

    You had strawman arguments in your mind, anyway. I happen to have a lot of disagreements with the libertarian perspective, but the difference is my disagreements are with the arguments they actually make.

    Very quickly, the conversation with Steve focused on the more general question of whether or not governments should, or do, pass laws to prevent accidents.

    The argument in your mind, not the one Steve was making.

    So you see, I really do wonder what your problem is.

    Now you know. I doubt you’ll understand though.

    I have, up till today, often appreciated your contributions here, so I do feel this has been a very bizarre exchange.

    I get way more annoyed by liberals who make stupid arguments and feel the need to invent ridiculous stances for their opponents than I do at wingnuts. They have no excuse.

  68. Tano says:

    Mantis,

    I am sorry man, but this latest comment from you is just over the top stupid. You seem ot be descending into a very deep hole. I really can’t imagine what has gotten into you. Come back to the real world, please.

    “Dodd said:
    “the federal government taking away your right to make a judgment….
    And you twist it into this:
    T: “So if you mount an argument that totally ignores the terrible consequences..”
    M :”He was ignoring the consequences of using GPS or calling 911 after an accident? No, he was ignoring the consequences of whatever Tano imagined him doing, because Tano “suspects” and “imagines” that technology will allow him to do those things and thus he must have been going 40 over the limit and holding a conference call with a blindfold on, or something. …”

    Huh? What the hell are you talking about boy? I was not imagining him doing anything. The discussion was about the dangers of cellphone use while driving. Y’know, a discussion about policy – whether LaHood’s specific proposal made sense, and on a larger scale, the extent to which government laws and regulations are appropriate in the effort to prevent accidents, rather than just assign culpability afterwards. Dodd laid out a list of the reasons why he was opposed to the specific proposal, and that list all reflected the concerns of the driver and their desires, or needs to use technology while driving. And I stated that I disagreed with some of those concerns, and agreed with others. I then pointed out that his entire presentation was soley focused on the driver – his or her convenience, or interest. There was no attempt to address the other side of the equation – which any serious discussion of the policy must address – namely, the consequences of the inattention to driving that some of these technologies foster.

    If you actually have to make a decision about laws and regulations, you do need to consider the rights of the individual, but you also need to consider the rights of the other people in the world who may be affected by that individual. That is the point I was trying to make. Maybe my rhetorical skills are far from ideal, but I do think I made a pretty good effort to be clear about this, at least for anyone who was willing to understand what I was saying.

    This singular focus is, I think, at the root of the problem that I have with libertarianism, and at the root, I suspect, of why many other people do. One often hears words like “selfish” or “self-centered” hurled at libertarians, and I think this is the reason. The attitude seems to be that it is all about me, and my freedom. Leave me alone. And if, for whatever reason, my actions harm others, then I can be held accountable. But don’t try to prevent me from acting in the first place – that would be an infringement on my liberty.

    Of course, neither Dodd, nor Steve wrote out those precise words early on in this thread, but I have heard such arguments many times, and so I basically tried to provoke a discussion on these points. Is this the attitude that I was seeing on display? Are these the assumptions behind their comments? Thats why I eventually asked Steve if he believed in speed limits – that is an example of the government stepping in to prevent a certain behavior before the bad consequences start arising. Sure, the speed limit doesn’t disable the car, so the analogy to the phone jammer is not exact, but I wasn’t supporting the phone jammer anyway. I was arguing on a philosophical level, for the legitimacy of government attempts to control certain behaviors for the protection of the rest of society.

    When the discussion was on a more general level, Steve seemed to indicate that he was against the government acting “pre-crime’. Eventually, he admitted that he did support speed limits. I think there remains a lot of interesting discussion to be had at this interface – since how real live libertarians manage to deduce from their philosophy actual positions on particular laws is not so obvious. Unfortuantly the discussion seems to have been aborted, in part from your intemperate and rather clueless contributions which seemed more focused on attacking me than contributing constructively to the discussion.

    “Steve then responds by telling you we don’t have pre-crimes (i.e. we don’t issue punishments for criminal actions not yet taken, at least in most cases), and you tell us that speed limits are just that (they aren’t),”

    Sure they are. The underlying concern is that people do not get run over. Instead of simply waiting for them to get run over, and then punishing the speeder, we limit the behavior of all potential speeders and punish them if they do speed, even if they do not run anyone over.

    ” and then build up a nice strawman about how Steve thinks only statists think there should be speed limits”

    Its not a strawman. He is the one tossing around the ‘statist’ charge at me. I believe in speed limits. Is that part of being a statist? Is it somehow illegitimate of me to ask that? Given a very strict reading of libertarianism, speed limits might well be problematical. Is it somehow illegitimate for me to ask him if he is such a strict constructionist? Or to further ask him as to where he draws the line in terms of allowing the government to control behavor so as to prevent bad outcomes?

    I still wonder – why the hell you took it upon yourself to jump into the middle of this conversation, which, given the medium involved, is always a bit difficult in terms of really getting a sense of where the other person is coming from – and just muddy the waters further by making ridiculous and inaccurate charges about what I was saying ,and generally being utterly clueless about the course of the discussion.

    ” You then claim, ludicrously, that you haven’t been making arguments in favor of disabling cell phones in car, when anyone can see that’s exactly what you’re doing, despite your preliminary disclaimer.”

    You are just losing your mind here bud. You claim to be a lefty, you charge me with being a wingnut, and you cannot understand the simple concept of supporting a principle while agreeing that a particular application of it is inappropriate? Is this all too complicated for your little brain? Can someone support the death penalty for instance, but argue that one particular murderer should not be executed because of some mitigating circumstances? Have you never encountered arguments of this kind? I have never, in the course of this thread said one single word in support of phone jammers. Not one. I explained why I was opposed. Beyond that I argued in favor of the general principle of government action to prevent accidents, and argued against those who rooted their objections to the jammers on a general opposition to the government actions to prevent accidents.

    I don’t have the time or interest to deal with the rest of your post. If you cannot understand things a little clearer now, then there is not much more I can try to do for you.

  69. mantis says:

    LaHood’s specific proposal</i.

    LaHood never made a proposal.

    I then pointed out that his entire presentation was soley focused on the driver – his or her convenience, or interest. There was no attempt to address the other side of the equation – which any serious discussion of the policy must address – namely, the consequences of the inattention to driving that some of these technologies foster.

    So dense. The idea is to create restrictions on the driver. Pointing out how this impacts drivers in other ways makes perfect sense, since that’s whom such a thing would be targeting. What else is there to say about “the consequences of the inattention to driving that some of these technologies foster?” We all already know why such a thing would be proposed. You know who else didn’t attempt “any serious discussion” of the consequences? You. You just whined about others not doing so. So tell us, then, what illuminating discussion about the consequences of distracted driving did you want everyone to have? It’s bad? People get killed in car accidents because of it? Well, that really opened my eyes. I have a much better perspective on the policy issues involved here now that I’ve repeated a given.

    If you actually have to make a decision about laws and regulations, you do need to consider the rights of the individual, but you also need to consider the rights of the other people in the world who may be affected by that individual.

    Everyone here knows people have a right to life, and getting pancaked by a distracted driver takes that away. What more needs to be said?

    This singular focus is, I think, at the root of the problem that I have with libertarianism, and at the root, I suspect, of why many other people do.

    I’m a critic of libertarianism, but somehow I still think that one should consider whether taking away people’s choices is the best or only response to a known harm in society. As has been discussed, the government does not mandate that cars be unable to accelerate beyond the speed limit, despite the fact that speeding causes fatalities on the roadways. People can choose to speed in their cars. Should we take away that choice to save lives? I agree with libertarians that how far we let government force us into certain behaviors is of great concern, we just disagree about how far that should be. You, on the other hand, seem offended by the very discussion. Why is that?

    But don’t try to prevent me from acting in the first place – that would be an infringement on my liberty.

    That is the very definition of infringement of liberty.

    Of course, neither Dodd, nor Steve wrote out those precise words early on in this thread, but I have heard such arguments many times, and so I basically tried to provoke a discussion on these points.

    Translation: Those were the arguments I wanted to rebut, so I just acted like these guys were making them, even though they weren’t. Straw. Man.

    Sure they are.

    No, they aren’t. Speed limits are laws which if you break them and are caught, you can be punished. They don’t assume people are going to break the law, and punish them for it beforehand (hence, pre-crimes. Read The Minority Report.). That’s what a device disabling cell phones would do, restrict people from using their phones in an emergency, or for other non-distracting purposes, on the assumption that they will break the law (many places have laws against driving and talking on the phone now, which are the actual analogy for speed limits).

    Its not a strawman. He is the one tossing around the ‘statist’ charge at me.

    It was a strawman to claim Steve was arguing only a statist would support speed limits. He didn’t make that argument. And I see why he calls you that. You certainly resemble one.

    I still wonder – why the hell you took it upon yourself to jump into the middle of this conversation, which, given the medium involved, is always a bit difficult in terms of really getting a sense of where the other person is coming from

    It’s a blog, dude. If you want a private conversation, go to a coffee shop or something. And no, it is not difficult to see where you or Steve are coming from.

    you cannot understand the simple concept of supporting a principle while agreeing that a particular application of it is inappropriate?

    No one was arguing the principle with you, they were arguing against the (possible) application. The fact that you still don’t understand that is the problem, and the reason you just aren’t worth wasting any more time on.

    Beyond that I argued in favor of the general principle of government action to prevent accidents, and argued against those who rooted their objections to the jammers on a general opposition to the government actions to prevent accidents.

    No one was making that argument. You were battling straw the whole time. It’s stupid and annoying, which is why I bothered to waste my time on you (rudely interrupting your private conversation, on a blog, on the web), and despite your delusions, I did not ruin an illuminating philosophical discussion, because you were having it with a phantom.

  70. Tano says:

    “You, on the other hand, seem offended by the very discussion. Why is that?”

    Actually you are the one who seems offended by the discussion, since you interrupted it and sabotaged it.

    “Translation: Those were the arguments I wanted to rebut, so I just acted like these guys were making them, even though they weren’t. Straw. Man”

    The exchange in this thread is simply the latest installment in an onging argument that I have been having with Verdon over the last several years. He has often laid out the reasoning behind his positions, and we have often clashed over them. I don’t blame you for not understanding that, but your aggression, tied to your ignorance, makes you a royal pain, and a distraction. If you don’t like the direction a particular thread is going, then why not either ignore it, or make some effort to reorient it in a way you think better. If others insist on having their own discussion, then leave us be. But why you choose to go after me, telling me how I should be arguing, when you don’t understand the parameters of the argument, is just weird.

    ” If you want a private conversation, go to a coffee shop or something.”

    Why don’t you just take a step back from trying to tell people how to behave eh? If I want to address a particular person on a blog, then I am going to do so, and it really is none of your business. It is not private, since you or anyone else is free to participate, and if you do so respectfully and constructively, it will be a good thing for all involved.

  71. mantis says:

    If you don’t like the direction a particular thread is going, then why not either ignore it, or make some effort to reorient it in a way you think better.

    I did, by pointing out how you were just making up arguments for other people, despite the fact that they weren’t making them.

    If others insist on having their own discussion, then leave us be.

    You’re the only one insisting on having private discussions in blog comments sections. No one else is.

    But why you choose to go after me, telling me how I should be arguing, when you don’t understand the parameters of the argument, is just weird.

    Correction: pointing out that you are having arguments with nobody is not telling you how you should be arguing, but pointing out how stupid and pointless your arguments are.

    Why don’t you just take a step back from trying to tell people how to behave eh?

    Says the guy who has whined repeatedly that I shouldn’t be commenting on his private conversation on a blog, on the internet.

    It is not private, since you or anyone else is free to participate, and if you do so respectfully and constructively

    Perhaps if you did that, instead of claiming others are making arguments they aren’t making, it would be a good thing for all involved.

    Anyway, I notice you ignored a lot of the more salient points in my comment, opting to whine some more about the fact that I bothered to confront you, something you apparently take great offense to. Why don’t you tell me why you insist on claiming others make arguments they don’t, or address the fact that speed limits and devices disabling phones are very different approaches to prevention, and help us understand the deep discussion you wish to have about “the terrible consequences” of distracted driving that we were all callously ignoring? Hmm?

  72. Tano says:

    Well Mantis, thanks for the pleasure of getting to know you a bit better. I must admit that it has not been a very pleasant experience. You have acted like a complete ass in this thread, and I won’t even bother to speculate as to why. I assumed at the beginning that you were just manifesting the all-too-common phenomenon in blog conversations – the person who misunderstands what someone is trying to say, and so responds off on a some strange tangent. Mix in a rather nasty attitude, and well, that pretty well sums up your comments.

    But we’ve all done those kind of things, so I did try to engage you and explain to you where I was coming from, and what I was trying to convey. Apparently though, there was more going on with you. My explanations seem to fall on deaf ears, because it seems you are really not interested at all in understanding why I said the things I did. No, this seems to be some pissing contest for you, or some insult exchanging contest.

    I have answered all your questions already, and I am beginning to feel rather like the fool for having assumed some sincerity on your part. You are free to believe whatever you wish about why I said the things I did – I really do not care what you think any more.

  73. mantis says:

    Why don’t you tell me why you insist on claiming others make arguments they don’t, or address the fact that speed limits and devices disabling phones are very different approaches to prevention, and help us understand the deep discussion you wish to have about “the terrible consequences” of distracted driving that we were all callously ignoring? Hmm?