Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Patrick Flynn and Ronald Tipton, 2016.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Texting, Sexting and Kvetshn

In Arkansas and Texas it is illegal for a person under the age of 18 to text while driving.

This is the work of the people voted to office to make the laws.

Officer: "How'd you hit that tree?"

Teen: "I was texting lovey-dovey messages to my lovey-dovey and didn't realize I was driving on the sidewalk until I hit that tree."

Officer: "How old are you, son?"

Teen: "I'm nineteen, sir."

Officer: "Oh, why didn't you say so. That's all right then."

Texting is the in-thing now and some people are doing it while they drive. So the politicians have to jump up and act like they are doing something about it. A couple of years ago they were on their feet yelling about people driving while talking on cell phones.  Move to the future a bit and the politicians will be waving their fists about people reading Nooks and Kindles while driving.

What do we need these laws for?  53 years ago when I was learning to drive I had to memorize a booklet on rules of the road. There would be a test when I went for my Driver's License. It was made pretty clear that it was against the law to drive inattentively. You were required to maintain control of your vehicle at all times and if you failed to do so you could be in trouble; big trouble if you caused an accident. A decade ago when a woman caused an accident with my wife that totaled our car, that woman was cited by the police for "failure to maintain control of her vehicle." Apparently ten years ago it was still required that you drive attentively.

It would certainly seem to me that texting while driving would fall under the category "inattentive driving." Last year this state passed a law making it illegal to drive while on a cell phone. I'm still dodging drivers on cell phones. But apparently we have to have individual laws for every little inattentive practice when being inattentive ought to do the trick and cover it all. It doesn't really matter if the authorities are attentive in enforcing the law only that the politicians were attentive to the trends so they can claim they did something about being inattentive. (Case in point: Those condemned basketball nets remain long after their execution date. See Invasion of the Basketball Snatchers.)

So how do such laws get enforced then?

If the police can't grab a person steering with their knees while their eyes and thumbs are busy on a keyboard for inattentive (and reckless) driving now, how are they going to be more vigilant knowing texting is also specifically against the law? Will we have task force checkpoints to catch people texting as we do for catching DUI violators and (horror of horrors, apparently the worst crime against mankind ever) someone not wearing a seatbelt? These people can't even enforce the speed limit where speeding is pretty evident; how are they going to catch people texting below their visibility line?

Well, to add to the distraction, not only may they be texting while driving, they may be sexting. I am beginning to lose track of the "epidemics"(you know fat kids, pig flu, etc.) but I know sexting is on the list. In case you don't know, sexting is sending via phone naughty pictures of one's self. The photos may be scantily clad or not clad at all or not clad and doing bad.  Of course the concern is mostly voiced over teenagers sexting. Apparently a person of age sexting is appropriate behavior in our sophisticated culture, although if I were sexting it might be considered an act of terror. As usual, the usual suspects (re politicians) have to get in on the act. Not the act of sexting themselves, although that wouldn't surprise me in the least, but the act of pretense that they are doing something worthwhile about it. (The most worthwhile thing a politician can do, to paraphrase Old Man Potter in "It's a Wonderful Life", is to sit around on their brains all day and do nothing.)

Politicians are like the three characters who accompany Dorothy through Oz, except there is no Wonderful Wizard to help them out. You have a lot of politicians that don't have a brain, then you have a lot of politicians who lack any courage and you have very few politicians who have a heart. So you have some politicians actually, seriously, incredibly saying these sexting kids should be jailed for child pornography. There have even been several such arrests, one where two 14 and 15 year-old girls were arrested on such charges because they send nude pix of themselves to their boyfriends, who were 16 and 17. Everyone involved in both the sending and receiving was legally a child.

It reminds me of a few years back when some of our politicians proposed arresting and throwing in prison teens caught smoking.

Personally I think those people should be arrested for child abuse.

Why do we have laws against kids smoking and against child pornography?

Supposedly it is to protect children, which includes teenagers (and in cases of political unreasonable reasoning people of 24, 25, 28, and 35), because they are too young to make mature and reasoned judgments for themselves and thus will engage in activities that may be harmful to them.

But the politicians solution is to turn all this protection on its head and criminalize children for the bad judgement they are supposed to have for which such laws were made to begin with. Rather than protect the children from themselves they wish to throw them in prison. What does this protect them from? Here they can learn the economics of using cigarettes as currency and how to advance from recreational display of their bodies to a professional level. After all, they will need some sort of profession to fall back on once they return to society as ex-cons listed on the sex offender list, not to mention a lifetime of huddling in cold back alleys to sneak a smoke.

Now don't take this as an endorsement of texting while driving or sexting while showering or even smoking. Hopefully anyone who reads my writings realizes I often do so with tongue planted deeply in cheek. Texting while driving is very serious and dangerous, not just to the practitioner, but to others, including me. I just don't see the purpose of an additional law when it would seem to already be covered by existing ones. You can draw attention to the behavior through education and by having police pull over and ticket those they see driving inattentively. What does an individual law against talking on a cell phone, an individual law on texting while driving or so on add? If a woman is putting on her face in the rearview mirror and runs over a child is it somehow worse if she had been texting instead? If a truck driver has a head-on with a family of four while he is smearing Horsey Sauce on his Abby's Giant and ketchup on his curly fries worse if he was on his cell phone instead?

Be diligent in catching all inattentive drivers and that should cover it.

Sexting is also a stupid activity. Young people in the throes of hormonal development lean toward a lot of stupid behavior. I don't think most of these kids have child pornography in mind. They may not even think they are indulging in risky behavior. But they are.

If you have an accident while texting and you survive unscathed, you may still find your life ruined. You may have to live with the guilt of what you did to someone else. You may have financial obligations as a result of a lawsuit. You can suffer life changing consequences from sexting as well.

Recently one of the founders/heads of Google said in an interview he expected to see an epidemic (there's that word again) in a decade or so of people legally changing their names. He stated young people didn't understand the Internet. (Can you imagine that? Young people don't understand this technology. I thought it was only we Old Goats who didn't get it?) Young people have no idea what they are doing, so he said.

Why? Because of what they are writing in Blogs and the pictures they are putting out on MySpace and Facebook, because of such things as sexting. In another decade these young people will leave school for the job market. They will fill out applications and hiring managers will go online and Google their name and when they see those cute pictures of that applicant in the shower or whatever, there will go that job offer. Young people will be changing their names so prospective employers can't find what they wrote and imaged as a teenager.

But it goes beyond that, doesn't it? Take those 14 and 15 year-old girls foolishly arrested. Would it not have been better to handle this sort of situation more discreetly? Was it necessary to further splash these teens' faces and names across newspapers and the Internet? How does that protect them from themselves or from the predators out there?

What these kids need to learn is anything they put out in cyberspace goes everywhere in real world space. How would they feel to discover their little photos to tantalize their boyfriends were hanging in the bedroom of a pedophile?

I don't text and I don't sext. I do write Blogs and I've seen things I have put on my Blogs in many online publications around the world that I never heard of before. If I Google a subject for research and look at the images, I am often surprised to find images I have posted. I would never want to publish a photo of myself I wouldn't want my mother to see.

Don't do it.


(Kvetshn is the verb form of kvetch.)

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