Sunday, May 31, 2009
© 2009, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
Sometimes we draw our inspiration from movies. Last week, TCM aired a musical comedy with Fred Astaire.
Astaire plays a popular dancer pursued by female fans. He employs subterfuge and fleet of foot to escape the crowd. He sneaks into a cab and thinks that he has pulled it off. To his surprise, Joan Fontaine, a member of nobility whose family expects her to announce who she will marry any day, scurries into the cab. She’s trying to avoid being caught by the family’s Chief Steward. They desire that she marry a boy from another noble family; but she’s in love with a city boy.
While trying to enter the cab to retrieve her, the steward gets into a fight with Astaire. A London Bobby arrives and decides to arrest both. Astaire wiggles out by participating in a street dance routine performed by someone imitating him. The Bobby is so taken with his performance that Astaire is able to fade into the crowd.
For those incapable of “dancing out of danger,” the world’s a more serious and dangerous place, for the Police and the populace.
In the 60’s, we were a bit more innocent. Vietnam took care of that. Some say Nixon ended the war upon realizing we were pulling a disproportionate number of poor kids from the projects, training them as guerilla fighters, and dumping them back into the ghetto… a practice any one could have seen would not end well.
Take a group of radicalized middle class college students occasionally bombing or occupying government buildings, toss in a few government scandals and VP Cheney’s take on our constitutional rights, and you have a recipe for paranoia… on both sides of the badge.
Running down “bad guys” is now a national obsession, and something of which America seems to be proud.
Police car chases are so popular that stations interrupt any broadcast, repeat, any broadcast, to provide updates. There’s even a website devoted to freeway pursuits.
Our target audience for our Common Sense and Personal Responsibility seminars is college students. There’s a high probability that they will, at some point during their educational experience, have an encounter with the law.
(The O.J. “cruise” with Al Cowlings highlighted a couple of Common Sense differences between your run of the mill teenager, and a seriously skilled dancer. O.J. never threatened anybody other than himself, and he kept his speed below the posted limit.)
Here are some things students might want to consider:
If you’re afraid of the Police, or feel some urge to call them dirty names, drive someplace with lots of people (with camera phones) before you pull over. The Police are well aware of the consequences of beating on you in public while being recorded.
Comedian Chris Rock has a funny piece about talking to the Police when stopped. His advice will get you arrested.
The Police don’t know who you or your Daddy are, they don’t wear body armor to fill out an over-sized uniform, and you may never get a second chance to make a good first impression. (Just ask Sir Charles Barkley.)
Be cooperative; and cognizant of the 25 or so pounds of weaponry he or she carries around all day, every day, along with the steel toe, shiny boots, and be contrite.
DUIs, drugs, and traffic offenses have become major sources of income for many of our local constabulary, particularly during this economic meltdown. Their income and equipment depend largely on muck-ups, and the number of tickets and convictions they are able to amass.
Keep in mind that management consultants have infiltrated police departments across the land. Law enforcement is now a business, along with prisons. Line up a lawyer and assemble a bail fund in advance if you want to sport your own haircut and flashy set of wheels.
Leave the party favors at home. If you need to transport the stuff, consider FedEx. If you insist on driving zapped, so you will be. Best thing to do is keep cab fare in reserve, providing you the ability to impress your chosen companion, and get things going early.
Last week, we ran across an article reflecting how things can go bad in an instant. Sixteen year old Robert Mitchell was a passenger in his cousin’s car. Police stopped the vehicle for an expired license plate. Mitchell, a learning disabled boy with a clean record, jumped out of the car. His cousin said he was absolutely freaked and starting sprinting.
The 5’2”, 110 pound kid fled to an abandoned house. Though the Police tried to corner him, he resisted. They responded with their version of non-lethal force, using a 50,000 volt TASER.
Mitchell died shortly thereafter.
One poor choice can chase one for one’s full life, no matter how short. It will undoubtedly also haunt the officers.
Where did it go wrong? What was the first indicator that things were about to spiral?
The Laughingman contends that telling the truth will always set one free. He also maintains that when things go wrong, there are worse things than getting arrested.
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