LETTERS TO THE EDITOR - Red-light cameras don't tread on civil liberties


I write in response to your "Our Opinion" published in Sunday's U-B titled "Red-light cameras presume guilt--and that's wrong."

I make two points. First, and crucially so, the cameras in question are not the kind of thing capable of presuming anything, let alone guilt.

They are not designed to pass judgment of any kind on any state of affairs.

When they function as intended, they simply record and report an uncolored fact, namely, the physical crossing of a motor vehicle into a temporarily prohibited zone. In this regard, the activities of Bentleys, Rolls Royces, Land Rovers, Hummers and Subarus receive equal notice and equal legal mention.

There is a traffic law which, for the good of all users of public roadways, and for eminently good reasons, makes it wrong to "run a red light."

It takes no special talent to figure out that this law in no way infringes upon or otherwise compromises one's civil liberties. So the activity of correctly recording and reporting its infraction--inadvertent or otherwise--says nothing whatsoever about one's civil liberties.

It most surely does not prevent me from having my day in court in the event of an infraction. It makes no substantive difference whether one's running the red light were duly noted by an alert traffic officer, or by a Robocop.

And as with the traffic cop, so with the Robocop; consistency requires that you treat the one as you treat the other. Impale the one, and you impale the other.

Second, and briefly, but of great significance, even the casual observer would have noted that the issuing of traffic tickets has long been a source of revenue.

So the fact that the tireless, efficient, economical and uncomplaining Robocop brings in a bonanza breaks no new ground. It does not help the U-B's case to label the proliferation of Herr Robocop as a "nefarious fad."

That's a bad designation. Anyway, where are the justificatory arguments for the charges?

Hollibert Phillips
College Place


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