Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Based on reader response, it seems the discussion of singling out texting while driving has really struck a nerve. This discussion will continue until Mount Pleasant Town Council takes further action in September, and they appear to be moving toward passing an ordinance banning texting while driving.
In response to my last column on this debate, “Jon” writes: “Your article worries about government overreach. Right-wing ideas like yours convey the impression that all Americans are paranoid and xenophobic to boot, yet it is instructive to see what other countries are doing here. Most advanced nations have already banned texting while driving, as have most progressive states. Only the most hidebound conservatives resist the common sense approach of limiting individual choice when it endangers fellow citizens in such an obvious way. Young drivers are most likely to text their friends, and they are also most likely to take risks behind the wheel, to play loud music in their buds that make them oblivious to road conditions and to get in road accidents. We end up paying for their mistakes, tenfold…. Citations are only one manner of enforcement; there are warnings, stopping drivers to ask questions and in general using police authority to change behaviors without the need to make arrests or issue citations.”
Well, Jon, I’m sorry you think it is “right wing” to warn citizens of the dangers of local government singling out some driving distractions while letting others, such as fiddling with your GPS or phone functions, go Scot free. Jon ends his message with this note: “Try to be more clever than saying Charleston should stop flooding at high tide rather than texting while driving. Ridiculous.”
Football banning tipping point?
Here’s something that’s really ridiculous.
Just as we are coming alive again in the South with our community rituals involving football, some blasphemous spoil sports are renewing their call to ban the sport. Case in point is author Malcolm Gladwell on CNN’s Fareed Zakaria show calling for a ban on college football because of health issues. Gladwell wrote the book “The Tipping Point,” explaining how small, unnoticed actions or fads end up becoming big nationwide or even worldwide trends. Surely Gladwell had a strategy behind the place and timing of his comments, knowing that every such incident inches the movement a bit closer to the tipping point. Gladwell compared football to dog fighting. If you follow the NFL, you get the double-edged reference there.
Whether this reaches a tipping point or not, behind the guise of health concerns, this movement is an assault on a part of American culture that has driven some of these critics crazy since they were in school and couldn’t make the team. Football is all-male, built on raw masculinity and holds the rapt attention of men and women alike. That is why the malcontents hate it and are using “the concussion discussion” as an excuse to try to ban something that has made them feel inferior since puberty. I know that sounds harsh and insensitive, but that’s the truth, and it needs to be said. If health issues were the real concern, the Malcolm Gladwells of the world would try to ban cheerleading, which has the highest injury rate per capita and they would also do something about headers in soccer, which is the sport these folks think America should embrace like the rest of the world does. Have you seen a traffic jam at a college soccer match recently, or 85,000 people in the stands at a soccer match anywhere near South Carolina? If you love football like the vast majority of Americans, be aware that the Malcolm Gladwells out there are trying their best to build to a tipping point to ban it and push back until they get the point. And I’ll see you at the tailgate party.
Will Haynie has published more than 400 oped columns as a feature columnist for the Asheville Citizen-Times and the Hendersonville (N.C.) Times-News. His niche is as a humorous conservative. Find him on Twitter at @willhaynie or email him at Haynie.firstname.lastname@example.org.