by Steve Mason

We make some of our greatest gains When we see old things in new ways

Am I the only one who is aware of the damage being done by Mothers Against Drunk Drivers? Talk about un-American groups. Where's Joe McCarthy when you need him?

But let's begin at the beginning. Why would anyone want to believe that simply being a mother endows one with some special insight, greater wisdom or some kind of strangle hold on morality? The last time I checked, getting pregnant was a pretty simply process. To say mothers should hold some privileged sway in the course of events effecting the rest of us is just so much mindless pap. I find such an assumption going unchallenged both embarrassing and offensive. And too, what's so keen about kids? Has anyone noticed we're in the middle of a population explosion? About the last thing this planet needs is more kids.

That said, I'm driving along minding my own business when I come to a roadblock! In America! A cop comes up to my window and asks where I'm going. I say I was going to Irvine but appear to have wound up in Moscow. It's never wise to joke with a cop, especially since I'd just had a drink. Anyway, he takes full advantage of this illegal opportunity to stop me without due cause and scans my car's interior for anything he might find objectionable. Anything at all. Alas, it looks as though there's no way he can direct me to the enforcement/judicial/prison complex so I'm allowed to continue my interrupted journey with only one additional outrage. Some idiotic woman is there to hand me a brochure asking for a donation to - you guessed it - MADD! Hey, why not give 'em a few bucks. After all, they did pretty much single handedly bring the roadblock to America.

Aaaa but you're saying "Didn't he admit to being less than sober?" A blood test might have put me over the legal limit, so should I have been driving? Absolutely! In fact, I'm a much better driver than most people on the road. You want proof? I have every imaginable auto insurance discount, a spotless record and I also manage to fly a plane in the same over the limit condition.

The secret is, it's not one's blood alcohol level so much as it is one's level of proficiency. Recently, two commercial pilots for a major airline were observed having a few just prior to take off. They were apprehended at their final destination and their flight recorders examined. A panel of instructors (these are the pilots who train the pilots) determined that cockpit performance had been above average, and this was despite - because of adverse weather conditions - an especially demanding takeoff and landing.

Clearly, I drive better (and presumably the two pilots in question would drive better) than someone with a brand new license, or someone bordering on senility, or someone from a country where they drive on the left, or someone who can't read the signs, or a MADD member checking to see why her kid is choking in the back seat, or someone who has just had a fight with their spouse, lost their job, taken a prescription drug, or spent the night up with a tooth ache. The difference is that I enjoyed the drink, and in a puritanical society like ours, MADD types out to get me would probably take up a collection for a guy with a head full of antihistamine going off the road on his way to work.

Please believe me, I am not suggesting a sloppy approach to driving. It is probably the most dangerous thing the average person does. But we already have a law covering this condition. We already have a law against Reckless Driving. I applaud the officers and courts who take such miscreants off the road. Furthermore, if I'm ever driving recklessly I sincerely hope they stop me before I hurt myself or somebody else. But I would much rather be in a car with a driver who has had a drink or two and is competent than with one who is stone cold sober and doing the "acceptable" ten miles over the legal limit on a wet road. To think that a blood test is a valid means of determining one's level of proficiency on the road is a clear example of emotion getting the best of reason. Of course, the police will support MADD.

Why not? Roadblocks are an efficient means of apprehending the most people with the least effort. And the man in the street will support MADD saying it gets drunks off the road. Understand that I have no problem with getting drunks off the road. But isn't that why we have a law against reckless driving? And if someone has had a few but is not driving recklessly, I'm sorry, they're not driving recklessly.

Look At It This Way

The image of a drunk smashing into a school bus is so awful that perhaps it should produce a gut level, emotional response. A guy like me coming down on MADD must clearly have a screw loose. But, in a more rational moment, consider: does the end truly justify the means? In one community (given the MADD precedent) police are now using roadblocks to stop every tenth car traveling through certain locations during certain hours to check for valid insurance coverage. Anything else they happen to find during this random stop is fair game.

Wouldn't this policy be twice as effective if they stopped every fifth car? And why not search every tenth house? No doubt all kinds of terrible crimes could be discovered and/or prevented. Crimes so terrible maybe we should make it every fifth house. And what about people walking down the street? Might every tenth or every fifth one be carrying drugs; guns; child porn; phony credit cards?

I recall the Nazis used street blocks as an especially effective way of rounding up Jews. So when MADD ladies say, "but think of the kids", I say Yes, think of the kids who gave their lives to keep America free.

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