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                          Condiments

                        By Jack Farrar

                      © January 13, 1999

Denver law enforcement officials now have the latest tool in
technological-criminological-big-brotherism, a speeding ticket generated by
a new-fangled radar device.  Recently, I was the recipient of one such
ticket.  It included an impressive portfolio of evidence -- a photo of my
car, a photo of me (not flattering) and a digital printout indicating that I
had traveled down a section of University Boulevard at 40 miles per, ten
miles above the officially sanctioned pace.  The ticket included an invoice
for $40.  There were some notes about possible strategies for beating the
rap, but they were not encouraging.

There is little doubt that my chances of convincing a jury of my 
innocencewould be slim.  As I see it my sole argument would be that a 
guy who looks exactly like me, possibly a clone, was driving my car 
at the time of the infraction.  Yes, I was guilty.  But that is not 
the point. State-of-the-art tickets are generated completely by a 
machine, not by a living, breathing officers of the law, depriving us 
of the healthy give-and-take normally associated with the issuance of 
a ticket  -- the cajoling, the concocting of creative excuses, the 
amateur plea bargaining. (Officer:  “Sir, I had you going 45 in a 30 
zone.”  Me:  “Sorry, officer, I was late for my heart bypass 
surgery.”)

I suppose there are some people who applaud these new computerized 
cops. Not me.  They are still more evidence that our lives are at the 
mercy of machines, without souls, without mercy.  When tax-paying 
drivers are deprived of one of the basic privileges of a modern 
democracy, the right to wriggle and squirm out of vehicular 
misdemeanors, what’s next?  Virtual attorneys?



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