Racing in the Street [update 3]
From the more-laws-where-we’ve-already-got-laws file we’ve got Judith ‘Grandstander’ Collins who, instead of simply insisting that the police and judiciary apply laws already on the books, wants (just like her predecessor ‘Plugs’ Cosgrove) to get a headline for herself for beating up on youngsters in cars.
While we wait the time it takes for the first car to be crushed for either driving in a convoy, for going along a street more than once, or for (gasp) going into a skid (all of which may now lead to having your car eventually crushed if you do it three times in four years), let’s enjoy a song by Bruce Springsteen: ‘Racing in the Street’:
Apparently it’s not on Judith Collins’s iPod. I’m sure she’d like to upload ‘I Eat Heavy Metal’ sung by John Lee Hooker – but I’m not sure she’d understand the irony.
UPDATE 1: Brad Taylor makes the point I’ve hinted at crystal clear in his well-named post The Boy-Racer Moral Panic:
I find the focus on ‘intimidation’ and ‘anti-social’ driving rather troubling. The legislation is pandering to the same sort of bigoted public sentiment which fueled prior panics over rock & roll, punk, etc. . . [W] e already have laws against dangerous driving and street racing, and it’s not clear to me the penalties are too light.
My main problem with the law, though, is that it does more than simply crack down on dangerous driving. Being able to lose your driving license for having your car stereo too loud seems ridiculous, as does allowing councils to stop drivers from ‘cruising’ city streets.
This legislation is not primarily about road safety, but the moral distaste many people have for spiky-haired hoodlums in loud and garish cars. I, for one, think it’s a bigoted piece of populist crap.
UPDATE 2: And how about this: No Right Turn takes a stand on principle:
Well said those men.
"Boy racers": why you should care
Firstly, they discard the entire idea of justice, instead seeking to curb street racing by punishing the innocent. If a person commits multiple street racing offences, they will punish them by taking someone else's car away and crushing it.
Secondly, it takes a car crusher to human rights, violating the freedoms of movement, association, peaceful assembly, and from unreasonable search and seizure, not to mention the rights to justice and the right against disproportionate punishment - all of which are affirmed in the Bill of Rights Act and in multiple international instruments our government has sworn to uphold.
No-one likes boy racers. They're loud, obnoxious, and a danger to cats. But justice and human rights are indivisible. We need to protect them for everyone, even people we despise, or we have no right to claim those protections ourselves. What the government is doing here is simply wrong, and we should stand up and tell them so.
UPDATE 3: Strange bedfellows indeed. Even, cough, John Banks is against:
Auckland City mayor John Banks compares [Judith Collins’s] plans to the "draconian" ban on gang patches in Wanganui. . . Prime Minister John Key said [the plans] would stop boy-racers "circling the same streets again and again". The proposed law will allow local authorities to make bylaws preventing people "cruising" down certain streets. Transport Minister Steven Joyce said cruising was defined as "repeatedly driving over the same section of road in a motor vehicle that draws attention to the sound of its engine or creates a convoy that impedes traffic flow". This meant cruising would not capture those "just looking for a carpark". But Mr Banks last night said he would not be rushing to introduce an anti-cruising ban on Queen St. "I'm the Mayor for all of the people that live in this city. We promote good behaviour and boy-racers that behave themselves are not an issue. There are bigger problems in the CBD Auckland today than boy-racers."
UPDATE 4: And from Danyl at the Dim Post:
The main goal of the legislation . . . seems to be the generation of positive media coverage for Judith Collins, ideally prime time news stories in which she is seen crushing cars and then delivering a piece to camera. Less importantly it will provide an additional revenue stream for her departments by allowing Police to confiscate cars belonging to people with overdue fines and then auction them off.
I predict that the number of cars crushed subsequent to Collins’ staged media event will be tiny, possibly even zero, and that ‘boy racers’ will also be a small proportion of the people who have their cars confiscated and sold.