Monday, July 20, 2009

There is No Point to Doing the Right Thing

It's getting to be too much. Right now I don't feel the will to fight anymore. If I'm the only person who tries to obey the law, and my efforts result in alienation and conflict, why should I keep trying?

Historically there were two traffic violations on my driving record. One was when I ran a light that had just turned red: freezing rain had just descended and coated the street in glare ice, and I was behind a group of cars who went through the yellow. But there was a cop at the intersection and he picked me out as "most offending" vehicle. Another time, I was pulled over 30' from my house for doing 35mph in a 30mph zone.

On the other hand, I've been robbed and mugged, held down at gunpoint. When the gunman returned two weeks later and I got a positive physical ID, the cops blew off my claim. I was punched in the face by a motorcyclist; I gave the plates and physical ID to the police, who were helpless to follow up on it. I was momentarily apprehended by two belligerent cops in search of a short man in a green coat (I'm a tall man and was wearing a black coat--perfect match). My own sister witnessed a murder downtown and when she reported it, in person, to two police officers on a beat, they shrugged and said it wasn't their precinct.

I have no real reason to believe in the legal system.

On the other hand, I've had consistently shitty service with T-Mobile, and the only reason I've stuck with them is because their prices and services are the least shitty out of all companies and providers. But just today, while I was trying to delete two phonecam pictures that I discovered on my online account, which I did not authorize uploading, I was forced to approve a revision to my contact. In order to delete these unauthorized photos, I had to agree to waive all rights to a trial by court and waive all rights to future class-action lawsuits.

That's legal. A phone company that knowingly issues phones that break after a year, but has you locked into a two-year contract, that's legal. A phone company that forces you to pay for an upgrade if you want a working phone (after a completely legal bait-and-switch), and forces you to sign a new two-year contract with it, that's legal. And modifying their contract so you have no legal recourse but arbitration, that's legal.

And here I am, the only bicyclist in Minneapolis who uses hand signals and obeys red lights and stop signs. Cyclist-interest groups, formal and informal, all insist on their enforceable rights as traffic, yet they have no interest in observing those laws. They laugh about it, they brag about it, they admire their own lawlessness, yet they hypocritically insist that cars must follow the rules.

I'm a broken record. It's the same thing over and over again. It's an uphill battle to follow the rules, yet coolness and admiration are heaped upon those who lack the discipline to do so.

Tonight, biking home, a car ran his stop sign to block me at a T-intersection, and he glared at me through his windshield. I tried to hop my bike up onto the curb, crossing the street, but my bike hit the curb instead and I nearly fell over my handlebars. The driver craned around to laugh loudly out of his window, echoing down the block as he drove away.

Something inside me snapped.

Rebecca once asked me, in light of everything that's happened, why I'm not an anarchist. Why do I cling to the law despite how grossly it has failed on every level?

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