28 November 2012

A Parable about Drunk Driving

by Frank Turk

I am travelling this week for work, and I am composing ahead so that you don't go without in spite of my sad and sorry state of out-of-townedness.

I'm thinking about a police force which, because they cannot catch all drunk drivers, they refuse to enforce any of the statutes regarding drunk driving.

Is that an ethically-sufficient way to reason about drunk driving?







39 comments:

Matt said...

It is not. To me, this conclusion is even more clear when I think of the issue from the other side. Suppose I get arrested for driving drunk on New Year's Eve. I protest "That's not fair! What about all the other drunks out there who never got arrested?" Whether those other lawbreakers get caught some other time, or never get caught at all, or die on the road, or die in their beds, does not and should not get me off the hook. The fact remains that I broke the law, and deserve punishment.

Frank Turk said...

That's true enough, Matt, but that doesn't really answer the question I am asking. The question is not, "do law-breakers deserve to be punished?" The question is: "Does anyone have an obligation to do something imperfectly-good even though it means they will allow some evil to persist?"

Johnny Dialectic said...

Imperfect justice is better than perfect injustice.

Esther said...

What Johnny said.

I read somewhere once that a study was done on the effectiveness of police activity. The study found that in areas where the police were very strict on even the smallest infractions, there was less crime in general and significantly less felony crimes. Seems that criminals realized that if they couldn't get away with running a red light or parking in the handicapped parking space, they certainly wouldn't get away with theft or assault, much less murder. Yet police forces generally do not act on this information. I'm not sure why...it would seem to make their jobs much easier.
I've often considered the implications of that.

DJP said...

So now we know that the one-star hater is a Gospel-hating Roman Catholic drunk driver. I'm forgetting one other thing.

threegirldad said...

I'm forgetting one other thing.

"racist"

DJP said...

Thank you!

One-star hater is a Gospel-hating, Roman Catholic racist drunk driver.

The triangulation continues.

Eric said...

If we threw our hands up in defeat every time we (individually or collectively) fell short of perfection, no progress (defined as pursuit of justice, righteousness) would ever be accomplished. And yes,that holds equally true for incremental efforts to stem the tide of bloodshed of God's unborn image-bearers.

Rational νεόφυτος said...

I've always wondered why they just don't consistently station police cars outside of bars. Wouldn't they be able to get the drunks before they could pull out of the parking lot?

donsands said...

That's hard to believe, "no statutes at all"?

I thank our Lord for the police officer who pulled me over many moons ago, and locked me up. 1983 I think. Help bring me to see Christ for who He was within a couple years.

"I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget Thy Word. .... Salvation is far from the wicked: for they seek not Thy statutes." Psalm 119:16,155

Have a blessed joy-filled trip Cent. God is with you.

Kerry James Allen said...

DJP, you also previously added "vegetarian."

Frank Turk said...

One-star hater cannot be triangulated. I am convinced that if I posted a Anglo-Catholic ecumenical piece which deplored meat, white people, sobriety, and so on, this person would click one star.

I think I know who it is, actually, and this person is so petty and small this person cannot hold a job in a family-owned business. However, I endorse all attempts to make fun of one-star hater since this person obviously is funny.

Back to the topic, please: is this an ethically-sufficient way to deal with Drunk Driving?

DJP said...

Sorry, no time to comment. Working on ecumenical post about vegetarian white meat for drunks.

threegirldad said...

Right you are, Kerry.

Dan,

Don't forget to include "Democrat" in that post you're working on.

;-)

threegirldad said...

Sorry, Frank. No more off-topic for me.

Answer: No. Seems obvious enough.

I'd be fascinated to see how certain people respond to the analogy.

DJP said...

Seriously:

Frank's post is exactly right, and applies in a great many ways. It applies to at least two false arguments I can think of offhand. Specifically, for instance, outlawing elective abortion wouldn't eliminate abortion (so let's not). That argument would work against ALL prohibitions, including drunk driving.

My other is a lot more tangential, though. "Some accused murderers are executed unjustly, so let's not execute any." Again, that same argument would equally work against all penalties for all crimes.

Zorro! said...

No, it is not ethically sufficient.
I often encounter this logic with people who say we should not outlaw abortion because we would not be able to catch all the violators and those violators will be using unsafe (unlawful, unregulated) methods (and the argument proceeds that it is "wrong" to "force" people to use the un-regulated methods of abortion).

Zorro! said...

I usually follow up by using that logic with murder. If we did not outlaw murder, people could be much more humane in how they accomplish it, and would not be endangering so many other people, especially with the use of guns and such.

Nash Equilibrium said...

In answer to Frank's direct question, the obvious answer is "no, it isn't sufficient." But it seems to me that the greater pitfall of society these days is getting anywhere near a majority agreement that any behavior is evil to begin with. I think drunk driving is an easier issue because (at this point) it's one of those rare issues that most everyone agrees is evil.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

If the police force refused to enforce the laws, they would be abdicating their responsibility as authoritarians which was given to them by a higher authority.

Their reason for disobeying the law (by not enforcing it) is because it is impossible to do so perfectly. So because they cannot, they excuse themselves from feeling the need to do their job at all.

Sounds a lot like sinful man to me. A one-star hater in the very least!

Zorro! said...

@Nash
I agree. That is why I try to distill the logic behind an argument (sometimes I am not very good at it) and then apply it to other things. When it does not measure up, or looks absolutely ridiculous, it reveals a cognitive dissonance in the one who advocates that logic.
But I have had people then tell me that cops obviously don't try to enforce the speed limit perfectly, because they can't. Yet I have seen towns in Germany who have the speed camera's that take your picture and send you tickets in the mail if you are a few mph (kph) over the speed limit. Nobody in that town speeds where the cameras are. They usually catch only tourists and out-of-towners like me....
So when the law is enforced to the letter, it is much more likely followed to the letter.
Then the conversation devolves into the practicality of some sorts of enforcements and gets real off topic - the topic of whether or not it should be enforced, not how easy it might be.

Merrilee Stevenson said...

I'm also guessing that my first statement is similar to one that an atheist or God-hater might use because they are mad about all the injustices in the world, so they decide that no higher authority exists...

Matt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Matt said...

Sorry for not explaining my thinking more clearly. Just as it is no excuse for me (qua drunk driver in this scenario) that others are not being punished, so it would be wrong for the police not to arrest me just because they can't get everyone. As Merrilee noted, that would be an abdication of their responsibility. It would also be like a Christian saying "I'm not going to worry about avoiding sin, because I'm bound to commit some sins anyway..."

Magister Stevenson said...

I can see what we would do with drunk drivers, but what do we do with mothers who had abortions? Jail?

Kerry James Allen said...

I'm probably not an unbiased opinion here given that I was nearly killed twice by drunk drivers (1973, 1983, never saw either one coming), had a father who died of cirrhosis, and have spent several years in law enforcement seeing the massive connection between alcohol and crime,but we wouldn't even be discussing this if our elected officials, most of whom are imbibers, had mandated ignition interlocks years ago. Why do we discuss ambulances at the bottom of the hill when there should be a better fence at the top? Deuteronomy 22:8. Interlocks have been available for years and would eliminate about 99% of the problem. For more info on drunk driving look here... http://www.madd.org/statistics/

donsands said...

I just heard on my radio station here in Maryland that a drunk driver killed a pedestrian last evening, and she left the scene.
They found her, and said "...she is a recovering alcoholic, who is a substance abuse counselor." May our Lord have mercy on her, and help the family who lost a loved one. Amen.

Maybe we need to try Prohibition again? But that would be the Elliott Ness opposite of no enforcement whatsoever.

Kerry James Allen said...

BTW, if you saw the amount of paperwork an officer has to do, you would understand the lack of enforcement in many areas of crime. I've often said a peace officer has more chance of dying from paper cuts than bullets! And if they ever shoot that gun you had better have time to write a dissertation! It's a difficult job and if you saw first hand the divorces, alcoholism, and other personal problems an officer has if would make it more easy for us to obey Romans 13.

Andrea said...

I appreciated what Matt said:

It would also be like a Christian saying "I'm not going to worry about avoiding sin, because I'm bound to commit some sins anyway..."

Isn't that the real crux? Human beings tend to use evil and injustice in the world to excuse their own sins of omission. For some that means failure to advocate for interlock ignitions when you have an office and a vote that could make it happen (great example,KJA.) For some it means failure to vote for the only candidate that might make a real difference in the number of abortions. For others yet, it means failing to call sin "sin" when it might alienate someone you care about. And for all of us it means, to some extent, minimizing our own sin and overstating our own efforts to "do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with" God.

We each must take responsibility (preferably before God's Judgment gives it to us irrevocably) for our own sins.

J♥Yce said...

Few are the folk that sin and choose to stand guilty without attorney before the judge only to discover the judge instruct, with snickers abounding in the courtroom, that not the way to appear and plead. And then along comes an unleashed defender with http://www2.potsdam.edu/hansondj/DrivingIssues/1107196613.html and we wonder why law enforcement could consider turning a blind eye?

Doesn't excuse. Yet thank Him for grace and mercy and for officers and judges that don't shirk duty even if imperfectly good and some evil persists.

Now yesterday was the 4th time we've had family stopped in line at a light or sign and hit by a distracted driver. Sober. Respectful. Forthright. Enforced. Because it's easier to deal with folks in the wrong when not impaired???

Kent McDonald said...

I agree with DJP that some Christians won't agree to ban "some" abortions unless we can ban "all" abortions. Failing to recognize that it is better to prevent "some" abortions than "no" abortions, while waiting for the perfect to come.
I also used to be a STRONG pro death penalty advocate. But then I saw more than 30 individuals removed from death row by the innocence project through DNA testing. I now advocate a moratorium on executions until all those on death row have had DNA testing done. For those on death row where there was no DNA to test, then they are just out of luck. Sorry. I have less than full confidence that everyone who is on death row actually belongs there, and death is so FINAL.

Halcyon said...

(Ahem)

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I AM THE ONE-STAR HATER.

Or I could pretend to be. For humor's sake.

Frank Turk said...

Well, that settles it: nobody reads my post anymore.

Chris H said...

If you can't catch every fish in the lake, you'd best not try to catch even one. Don't worry about starvation, because it's the principle!

Jeremiah Greenwell said...

"Nobody reads my post anymore."

Not true; I just have nothing to add. Of course it's not ethically-sufficient and I intend to use it in the future. I was hoping to see someone come on here and say that it was, but it looks like you've scared away the dissenters.

Barbara said...

Donsands,

Thank you for that comment. I think if more drunk drivers had to actually face the consequences of their actions there might be more opportunities for that. My ex-husband never did have to face them, and I left him over his 5th arrest almost 19 years ago. He is right now awaiting trial on a 1st degree vehicular homicide charge after an accident in which both he and the other driver (who died) were drinking. The effects are far-reaching. So much carnage to so many families and I pray, though it makes my motives suspect in the minds of some in his family (which includes my children) that this time he will stand up and take legal and moral responsibility for his actions. As long as he blameshifts and tries to get out of the consequences, no matter how badly he says he feels about what happens, he will not see or know his need of a true Savior.

donsands said...

Barbara,
I'll pray for your ex-husband, and for your children to come to faith in God, and His truth. That is the first step.

Barbara said...

Donsands, it is my children who prayed for my own salvation. I am grateful that they have faith in God through Christ. But I certainly covet your prayers for his salvation and their strength and grace through the trial.

donsands said...

Wonderful testimony Barbara.

God loves to hear prayer, and he loves to answer prayer.