New York State Senator Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn) has introduced legislation making it illegal to use an iPod, cell phone, Blackberry or any other electronic device while walking and crossing the street. He proposed the bill because of an incident last December when a man was crushed by a Mack truck when he failed to hear the vehicle’s backup signal because he was listening to music on headphones. If elected officials introduced a new law every time someone did something stupid (even though it might be fatal) the legislatures of this land would be clogged with minutiae.
Sen. Kruger said, “You can’t be fully aware of your surroundings if you’re fiddling with a Blackberry, dialing a phone number, playing Super Mario Brothers on a Game Boy or listening to music on an iPod. Tuning in and tuning out can be a fatal combination on the streets of New York.” Okay, just use some common sense, people! We don’t need a law on this matter.
I asked my friend,
resident James Edstrom, what he thought about the proposed new law. He said, "What's the difference anyway? They will just enforce the law a few times to show it on TV and then it will never be enforced again. The police use these kinds of stupid laws just as an excuse to be able to search you, ask for your ID and then maybe arrest you. What they need to do is enforce a ban on giant umbrellas. People using them show no courtesy and pedestrians have to dodge them all the time in bad weather." Manhattan
Kruger's bill (S.1945) calls for a penalty of $100 and a municipal court summons if anyone is caught crossing the street while using an electronic device. Since electronic devices are not the only distraction one might encounter while crossing the street, will the Senator outlaw mini skirts on women because the distraction of shapely legs might cause men to walk into traffic? What about chewing gum and walking at the same time? A tough task for many people.
The derivation of the phrase “walking and chewing gum” is originally from a private conversation then President Lyndon Johnson was having, but it has been altered a bit. Johnson was expressing his frustration with then Congressman Gerald Ford and said that Ford was, “so dumb he couldn’t fart and chew gum at the same time.”
For those needing an education in chewing gum and walking, the web site for Bemidji State University (part of the Minnesota Colleges and Universities system) has a How 2 Guide for the process. Author LeeAnn Johnson breaks down the components of this seemingly easy multitask into categories of footwear, type of gum, walking surface and state of mind. The procedure is really quite complicated when analyzed in depth.
French philosopher and author François-Marie Arouet, better known by his pen name, Voltaire, said, “Common sense is not so common.” So I guess we should base our laws on the lowest common denominator.