By John Latta
Someone in a high school class downloaded the latest nasty CD by Wasabi Rabbits and fed it into the school’s public address system. It played almost to the end before the principal found someone who could stop the music. Now everyone is staying after school until the prankster is found.
Someone driving a big rig across the western states popped a bottle or two of little white pills and, with eyes wide open, drove for a day or two before he hit the wall. There was wreckage the television cameras couldn’t stay away from. Someone hauling Miami-Seattle did a dozen things that his company doesn’t allow its drivers to do, and it made the evening news. Because of those guys, you pay a big price – a lousy reputation with the American public and a not uncoincidental readiness in Washington to regulate the way you work.
Kids who have never heard of Wasabi Rabbits are subject to a detention rule designed to stop behavior they never engaged in to begin with. Joe Trucker will be streaming data every minute of his road time back to company headquarters – and maybe the DOT – under a rule designed to make him safer when Joe Trucker has a 30-year driving record without a safety blemish.
Part of the problem is that drivers are pretty much all different, yet when we regulate people we make an assumption that they are more alike than different. We search for Mr. Average and use him as a stereotype. But that guy is a fiction. Rules with asterisks for every personality behind the wheel could never work, so we get something like the speed limits we abide by every day. We live with that. Common sense has been applied.
America has made something of an art of compromise. Meanwhile back in school students grudgingly stay late rather than allow school administrators to interrogate every student so the Wasabi Rabbits prankster can be found.
But not everybody sees the need to meet in the middle, so it seems to me we need a lot more of what the founding fathers used to create America: Common sense. I would dearly love to see a new law that says if common sense says a lawsuit is beyond stupidity the judge can throw it out. I would also like to see the Speaker of the House in Washington, D.C., be neutral rather than partisan so we would occasionally hear the golden words “Ladies and Gentlemen, this debate is so asinine, so totally childish. And it is over.”
Debate solely for the sake of debate can take over. Representatives of both sides go into battle, furiously presenting arguments in the manner of cavalry charges and defending the opposition’s onslaught by circling wagons and digging in. And so an issue is born. Somewhat like going to war with both sides claiming God is in their camp when common sense says this probably can’t be. The daily news media are co-conspirators as they broadcast or record much of this drivel instead of ignoring it.
I have often used the little boy in “The Emperor’s New Clothes” fable as an example. When debate among the empire’s elite raged about which nonexistent outfit the naked Emperor looked better in, up popped the boy with a head-clearing dose of common sense.
When our principal decides every student must stay until he finds the Wasabi Rabbits perp, we don’t need people forming pro- and anti-principal blocs and blowing up outraged indignation like steam in a boiler. Pretty soon, how you stand on the “Wasabi Rabbits issue” is a big deal. What we need is for people to quickly question our principal’s common sense.
When a legislator screams “Let’s regulate ‘em” after an atypical driver does something stupid, let’s not let knee-jerkism turn into a full-blown fight over regulation for an entire workforce. Rather, we need a chorus of calls for common sense.