Nov. 27. Mail: Speed Limits and the First Amendment
Speed Limits Should Be Raised and Enforced
Although I can’t disagree with many of the factors you pointed out in your well-reasoned column [“Whoa, Speed Racer,” Nov. 20], they don’t lead me to the same conclusion. I travel Florida’s interstates a lot, and three or four times a year, I go through Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana. Louisiana seems to be the only state among them to have a 75 mph speed limit anywhere, and it applies only on long, straight, rural and usually lightly traveled segments of interstate highway. There seems to be little harm in it, other than the loss of revenue to the local jurisdictions who benefit from speeding fines obtained from those likely to be in the upper reaches of the 85 percent of drivers who drive at speeds which seem comfortable and safe given the highway and traffic conditions.
In stark contrast, there are often stretches of open highway in remote areas where the speed limit is artificially low — well below a safe and normal speed — which gives these jurisdictions the opportunity to make up for said loss of revenue from unsuspecting (out of state?) motorists who wouldn’t expect these roads to be heavily patrolled. There are few reminders of the (sometimes) lower speed limits, such as 50 or 55 mph on open rural highways with little traffic.
This points out that if the speed limit takes relevant factors of terrain and traffic into account, increasing it should have little effect on the accident rate and just about the only downside would be using a bit more gasoline. As to the argument that most drivers will simply drive a bit faster than the posted speed regardless of how high it might be, that would disappear if the tolerance (generally believed to be about 9 mph) were adjusted. Drivers want to drive at a safe, comfortable and stress-free speed, free from fear of overzealous enforcement.
It isn’t the law, it’s the way it’s applied — in designating areas where the limits should be raised, and in enforcing it.
City Council Must Create Diversity for Invocation
I am a big supporter of the First Amendment. I joined Americans United (au.org) because of that. I believe that AU helps sustain the intent of the First Amendment.
AU is helping in the Town of Greece v. Galloway case. That case has me thinking about our City Council. Our City Council has an invocation before its meetings. To be within the rules of the First Amendment, no particular religion should dominate. Various religions and nonreligions should be represented.
That is my point of view. Can I defend it? Certainly many people are trying to defend that position before the Supreme Court. Google Greece v. Galloway and you will see. Here's a link to our local chapter meetup site discussion board that has some links to articles defending that position.
Why did the writers of the Constitution single out religion? Were they wise in doing that? To paraphrase, one clause states that one religion can not dominate the government. To me, that includes the appearance of dominance. And if only one religion is represented month after month in the invocation, then it appears that a religion has been established.
Certainly the [Jacksonville] City Council can do away with the invocation. Diversity does create more work. But what they can not do is allow Councilman Don Redman to give the invocation more than one time within a 12-month period.
Please write your City Council representative. Demand diversity or ask them to quit the invocation. Ask your priest or rabbi or pastor or a humanist celebrant to apply to be one of the ones that gives the invocation. We are a diverse community. The City Council was elected to represent all of us.