Double Double Trouble

Open Letters

It’s really sad to me that people (grown up people, I assume) fall into the ‘let’s insult the police’ trap, complete with donut cliches, as soon as they read an article they disagree with.

The headline reads: A simple coffee run got this Canadian into some hot water with the police.

Tim Horton drive-thru text nets $287 fine

A.J. Daoust was issued distracted driving ticket during his morning coffee run

For more on the article, read the full version here.

Basically, it proceeds to set him up as the victim. The CBC post is deliberately written to polarize people, offering none of the perspective of the officer. Bottom line: texting or talking on your phone while driving is illegal. If you do it, you’re breaking the law. Period. There are hands free options. A car is an enormous machine capable of killing or injuring people, and damaging property, if you can’t be an adult and resist answering a text… don’t drive. And stop blaming the police for cracking down on something that’s becoming the number one way that pedestrians are killed or injured, and is a leading cause of collisions. Monitor your own behaviour and the police won’t need to.

I expressed these thoughts and was surprised to see a friend, an old pal from grade school, chime in with an angry sounding post about ‘wasted tax-payer dollars/abuse of power/overreaching and general exasperation about the ‘in a drive-thru’ part of the scenario.

An eloquent friend replied to both our posts, writing:

“Alison said it polarized people on the debate. This “news” takes an isolated incident and blacklists all police – so the news reporting is ridiculously anecdotal and prejudicial. I agree – stop sucking in this news and thinking that police shouldn’t ticket people who are on their phones while driving-not the drive-through, but everybody who’s driving and texting. One of the most justified use of taxpayers’ money is to endeavour to stop people using their phones while driving!”

And, as with most open-letter-worthy subject matter, I couldn’t bite my tongue and rounded out my initial impression, after reading a follow-up article. Because anyone with any sense knows there had to be another side to this. And neither can be called ‘fact’ because we can’t possibly know what actually happened.

But as a final thought, consider: Many drive thrus have pedestrian traffic to access the storefront. Many parking lots have high rates of collision. If it’s illegal… it’s illegal. If your car is parked, not moving, go for it and check your phone, or use hands-free. It’s a privilege, not a right. If a police officer enforces a law when they see it, it’s still the law whether or not they are set up in a speed trap, or see someone driving 70 km/hr in a parking lot. Reckless behaviour or illegal behaviour is still illegal even if the person didn’t think THEY were the worst offender. Partly, I guess this is a matter of whether you feel the laws are ‘flexible’… Not to be flippant, but we don’t charge people with sortof breaking and entering, or kinda abusing an animal. As a teacher I definitely see the problems with ‘professional judgement’ as a way to determine if something should be acted upon; but, in my own experience, the way a person responds to my polite, but firm, reminder of how we ought to behave (for example) according to our code of conduct, hugely determines whether it escalates or goes on to include a formal warning/discipline. In the case of the officer, I don’t know what happened, because I wasn’t there. But I do find it very interesting how strongly people adhere to stereotypes and superficial judgements about what/who is right in situations such as these. Scroll through the comments to hear how many peoples’ ‘hatred of police’ is really doing the talking. That, again, is deeply impacted by our own experiences – with class, gender, race, … and donuts.