This isn’t finished–and it actually gets worse, due to what happened in court–but I’m posting it now because I don’t know when I’ll be able to get back to it.
As I sit in court this morning waiting on that judge to make his appearance, despite it being ten minutes after the time I was legally mandated to appear, I’ve got plenty of time to reflect on why I’m here. I’m here because the state has persistently screwed me over in the name of money.
In fact, my driving record would be impeccable if not for two things: the government, and other, careless drivers. I’ve been doing for 13 years, and I’ve had two accidents, neither of which was my fault. In one instance I was rear ended, in the other, more recent, someone attempted to turn out of a driveway in front of me, and didn’t see me coming. I’ve been ticketed for not wearing a seatbelt, not having insurance, for running stop signs that even the judge didn’t believe I ran, for not having insurance, and for not having insurance.
This entire thing is wrong. Why do we tolerate it?
It was only last year, or the year before, that Mississippi finally repealed the bill that forced drivers to buy inspection stickers. What was undoubtedly meant as a boon to the mechanics industry became a formality: Everyone knew at least one mechanic who would clear any vehicle. Yet the ticket for not having this sticker ran $500–one hundred times the cost of the sticker itself.
On the surface, the insurance regulation seems to make sense. Ignoring the overarching concerns about what right the state has to coerce me to buy something, if I’m in an accident then it’s not really fair to you if I can’t cover my responsibility. Never mind as well the fact that this is clearly a civil matter, and that, in the worst case scenario, you could sue me for damages. Yet after 13 years of driving, two of which were spent delivering pizzas in a city, I think the absence of any fault on my end serves as sufficient proof that I handle my end of the responsibility.
Strangely, no court will admit that I’ve never been at fault in a wreck as evidence that I’m responsible for the things I do on the road, even though they, better than anyone, have my driving record to look at.
Actually, insurance is obscenely expensive generally, but especially for me. Any driving ticket is considered a moving violation, including not having insurance and not wearing a seatbelt. These are tickets I obviously shouldn’t have in the first place. If I don’t want to wear a seatbelt in my vehicle, then that’s my business. If I solve my responsibility to other drivers by being cautious and careful, then I’ve solved my responsibility and insurance is a moot point. I don’t need liability insurance if I’m not a liability.
None of this matters, of course.
The episode of The Big Bang Theory wherein Sheldon goes to traffic court struck home for exactly that reason: judges don’t want to hear it. They want to get you in and out. They don’t want to hear long winded, obvious arguments about how no one with any sense in their head would believe that you ran a third stop sign in two weeks when there was literally a cop right behind you. And even though the judge agrees, because you’re a respected businessperson in the small town and he knows you’re not an idiot, you’re still going to pay that $172 that some cop on a whim decided you were ultimately going to have to pay.
The Constitution has no place in American court rooms, especially traffic courts, where 13,000 page documents of legalese have been written explaining why it’s totally not a violation of our Fourth Amendment right to have paperwork demanded of us at roadblocks as we exercise our inherent animal right to move around the land. They assure us that it checks out, and we should totally trust them on that, but if we don’t then we can always read the enormous, confusing document ourselves. Because the founders who wrote a framework for our government that was less than thirty pages long totally intended for bills to become a thousand times longer than that. Certainly some part of the Bill of Rights should have mandated that all bills must be less in word count and page length than the Constitution itself.
I have no doubt that someone who has literally dedicated their life to understanding this minefield of complexities and jargon could decimate me in an argument about them. I’m not an attorney, and I don’t know or care about the gigantic documents they create in their efforts to convince us that this totally isn’t tyranny. For the most part, I don’t really care what they do in their world of make believe. It’s only when their world of make believe overlaps the real world, and I find myself losing an entire day just to be commanded to pay a fine, that it becomes an issue.
And it is a world of make believe that they’ve crafted. They aren’t the only ones; most Americans are fixated firmly on this world of make believe. Just recently, I got to listen to my father talk about Trump’s congressional speech, and how he’s looking forward to the perks brought on by President Trump.
What is he talking about?
Sugarcandy Mountain, really. Surely some part of him knows that nothing Trump does is going to have even the tiniest measurable effect on his life. In fact, this is true for most people. We’re in our second month of his presidency, and nothing has changed and nothing has happened. Everyone’s daily lives are exactly the same as they were a year ago, yet half the people are convinced things are about to get better and the other half are convinced things are about to become catastrophic.
Of course, “things” aren’t about to do anything or be anything. It’s all inconsequential. Whether the hope or fear that Trump would shake things up was well-founded or not, it should be obvious by now that the status quo reigns unchallenged. Shortly after his election victory, I said in a video that I think America just got played, and that nothing was going to change, which would piss off the people who voted for Trump, leaving them even angrier and less trusting of politicians than they were before.
Yet two months later, I’m beginning to remember that they honestly just lack the capacity to notice that, just as the average liberal lacks the capacity to recognize that Obama didn’t really do anything. Nor did Bush Jr., or Clinton. I’ve seen “Libertarians for Trump” continue praising the buffoon, despite his constant executive overreach, which, while it isn’t new, is certainly something they should be against–and were against when it was Obama.
I’d hoped that conservatives would seize the rare opportunity to actually begin embracing small government and states’ rights, but they have shown no sign of caring any longer. They just have a different set of pet issues they want the federal government to control than liberals have. I knew this, of course, and have said it as long as I’ve been writing, but I did hope that they wouldn’t be as stupid and hypocritical as allowing the federal government to usurp not just states’ rights but city and county rights as well.
It’s useless to point out the hypocrisy, though. No one has ever succeeded in getting a hypocrite to realize they were a hypocrite, and that’s only exacerbated in politics when the stakes and rewards are “OMG WE GET TO TELL OTHER PEOPLE WHAT TO DO!” Unable to resist that urge to tell everyone else what to do with their pet issues, they’ve stepped right back into the path of big government and have ensured that the best we can look forward to is another Democratic President in 4-8 years, and then, perhaps, another chance for conservatives to note that, since they didn’t like the liberal federal government telling them what to do, then maybe they shouldn’t use the conservative federal government to tell liberals what to do. But, of course, when it comes to issues conservatives care about, it totally doesn’t count as usurping states’ rights.
It’s now fifteen minutes after nine, 45 minutes after I was required to be here. The courtroom is still filled with the steady droning of thirty conversations happening at once, and neither the bailiff nor judge have made an appearance. The state and its puppets, of course, have no concern for my time. And why should they? They’re at work; this is what they get paid to do. If having a day in court meant that every judge, officer, and other associated person wasn’t getting paid for each moment they were in court, this shit wouldn’t devour our entire days.
One odd thing I noticed the last time I was here is that people with attorneys go first. I suspect this is true in every court across the country, but I’m not aware of any attorney who charges by the minute or hour in a courtroom, so the argument that the judge is trying to keep the people’s costs low doesn’t hold up. Several of my clients are attorneys, and none of them charge by the hour, while all of them include a presumed court appearance or two in their estimate.
It’s because, without exception, the judge used to be an attorney. If there’s any position I’ve ever thought about running for, it’s a judicial one. I would make a fantastic judge, if I do say so. Case after case would be dismissed unless the state provided evidence, and an officer’s word wouldn’t be enough. “Oh, you ticketed her for not having insurance? What proof do you have that she didn’t have proof of insurance?”
“Well, your honor, she didn’t…”
“Ma’am, did you have proof of insurance?”
“Yes, your honor.”
Most cops don’t even bother to show up. That’s how little our rights matter, and how little presumed non-guilt matters. Cops don’t even show up. I’m sorry, your honor, but where is the evidence that I didn’t have insurance? Where is the evidence that the officer didn’t take a lighter to my insurance card? No, your honor, I *don’t* have to prove that I had insurance; the officer has to prove that I didn’t.
Where is the evidence that I was driving on a suspended license? That the officer said so? In what vehicle was I driving? There’s no proof of this; the vehicle wasn’t impounded. Where’s the evidence that I wasn’t out walking when some cop arrested me and said I was driving? They didn’t impound the vehicle, so they wouldn’t be able to prove I was driving.
If I did attempt to dispute any of these charges, then it wouldn’t matter; the officer would be called in to testify. Of course, the judge would be happy to wait twenty minutes while the officer showed up. After then, it would be a simple question of the officer’s word against mine, since there doesn’t even exist evidence that this whole mess was caused by someone pulling out in front of me in the first place.
This whole thing is just ridiculous.
“Innocent until proven guilty.”
A statement so true that cops don’t even bother to show up to court, much less to provide evidence if they do appear.
A year or so ago, a friend’s son was arrested at 2 in the morning. He was pulled over in a city for having a headlight out. Before anyone comments that it’s dangerous to drive without headlights, I’ve had numerous military people inform me that drivers in Iraq don’t use headlights at all. Anyway, the kid was arrested because the father had left Xanax in the truck in an unlabeled pill bottle and couldn’t prove that he had a valid prescription.
With a discount because they’re a client, an attorney charged $1250 to take the case. The expected fines were $1000. In the end, the kid had to take three drug tests at a doctor’s office, and the charges were dropped, not appearing on his record.
If that had been me as an 18 year old, I’d have been fined. I’d have pled not guilty, explained the situation, and then would have been found guilty and fined. I’ve been there, found guilty for contributing to the delinquency of a minor when I was 18. It was that day that I learned how pointless it is to plea not guilty over a misdemeanor without an attorney. The judge doesn’t give a shit about your arguments. You’re guilty. It’s that simple.
The judge will listen to the attorney’s arguments, and, in my experience and observations, will just go with whatever the attorney says. The judge won’t fine you, because you’ve already been fined. You simply paid a private attorney instead of the state. Since the judge himself used to be a private attorney, it creates a cycle. Your attorney will be your kid’s judge. Your kid’s attorney will be your grandkid’s judge. They won’t fine you because they once made their money because judges didn’t fine people with attorneys. If they start treating people who have attorneys the same way they treat people who don’t, then their entire circle jerk falls apart.
Trying to put a vehicle on the road is an exercise of such obstruction that Stalin would be proud. First, you need a licence that you purchase from the state after buying two rubber stamps. This license, of course,