Welcome to 1984. I’d Like You To Meet Big Brother…

5 Jan

So I received a $180 ticket in the mail today, for a traffic violation that a red-light camera caught “me” committing on an early Saturday morning while I, in fact, lay fast asleep in bed.

I have a slight problem with this.

My car was on loan that particular morning. My car was recorded entering an intersection 0.6 seconds after the light had turned red. Now, I’m not saying that my car entering an intersection 0.6 seconds after a light has turned red is a justifiable offense (although, honestly, POINT SIX SECONDS, COME ON!!!!!), but please note: My car was recorded entering the intersection. That high tech camera couldn’t manage to capture an image of whoever it was that was driving, i.e. NOT ME. And yet here I am, receiving a ticket in the mail that personally, I just can’t afford to pay, when there’s no evidence to suggest I was anywhere near that particular intersection at that particular time. AND THAT’S BECAUSE I WASN’T.

I know it’s a minor crime in the grand scheme of things, but hear me out here…

My major problem with this isn’t the ticket itself. I’m all for fining people who break the law. But first of all, the ticket was issued to me, and once more, in case I haven’t been clear enough about this, I WASN’T EVEN THERE, and second, I don’t think the doling out of said fines should be left up to machines. Out of curiosity, I checked the Canadian weather archives. Apparently, between the half-hour timeframe of 5:30 to 7 a.m. on the morning in question (the violation occurring at 6:40), Ottawa received a bit of snow. I’m not saying I know this for sure, because I WASN’T THE DRIVER, but isn’t it possible that whoever was driving (NOT ME) might not have thought it safe to break on snowy roads? Maybe there was somebody tailgating them and they perceived it as being safer to blow through the vacant intersection than to slam on the brakes and cause a collision. I don’t know, because I WAS ASLEEP AT THE TIME. But, had a police officer and not, oh, A CAMERA, been the one to catch this violation, perhaps they could have exercised these little skills called “critical thinking” and “judgment,” and then determined if it was indeed the correct measure to issue the driver (WHO WAS NOT ME!!!!!) a one hundred and eighty dollar ticket.

Interestingly enough, as a general rule, I am ambivalent about the omnipresence of cameras in society today. Remember a few years ago there was this big uproar because some city or another wanted to install security cameras in their downtown core, and everybody got all up in arms about their privacy being violated? My normal reaction to that is generally HA HA HA HA HA LOL HA HA, because it’s 2010 and your grandmother has a camera on her phone and your image is being recorded All. The. Time. by other civilians such as yourself, some of whom may occasionally catch unwholesome images in the background of their new Facebook profile pics and subsequently submit said images to the police. Privacy is but an illusion, my friends. Google Street View, anyone? So on the whole, I don’t have a problem with security cameras, and my attitude I take is generally that of “if you’re worried about being caught on camera, maybe you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing”.

My attitude changes somewhat, however, when the camera does not capture evidence of an actual person committing an actual crime, but rather images of a car (which to the best of my knowledge can possess neither mens rea nor actus reus, but correct me if I’m wrong) committing a crime, and they go ahead and penalize a person for it anyway. Not to say the car went all Knight Rider on us and drove itself to the intersection; just reiterating that THEY ARE FINING THE WRONG PERSON.

Tell me how that’s okay, that you get a picture of a car violating traffic laws, and you can’t see who’s actually driving the car, but you can find out whose license the plates are associated with so you’ll just go ahead and charge that person?

Tomorrow I’m going to City Hall, and I’m going to find out if, in the very least, I can argue down the fine. A fine that on principle alone, I have a BIG problem paying at all, but I’d rather pay the damn fine than take it to court. I do not have the time or the wherewithal to bother taking it to court. But even putting the fine aside for a moment, will that have repercussions for me? It will affect my driving record, which is about as spotless as a driving record can feasibly be after 10 years of licensed driving. It might affect my insurance, I don’t know. But given that I just don’t have the mental fortitude to be interrogated over this (and even if I did, I simply don’t have the time), so it shall be. And the city will surely pocket their one hundred and eighty dollars that it takes me approximately twenty hours of work to earn at my minimum wage job, and with that they will do what? Not fix potholes? Not salt the roads? Maybe it’ll go to help pay down the massive debts that Larry O’Brien has managed to create for this city.

They found him not guilty, bee tee dubs. Gimme an effing break.

In conclusion, cameras aren’t cops. I think they’re valuable tools in helping catch criminals, but only if they, y’know, capture facial features or even just hint towards the sex and race of the perpetrator. If you have an extra $180 kickin’ around, please, the next time you see one of those red light cameras, blow right by it, but not before rolling your window down so you can flip it off on your way past, okay? For me?

Also I totally sprained my finger while I was violently rampaging against this in my kitchen this evening, so that sucks too. Yeah, I’ve got some wrath. You love it.

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