I have long been an opponent of loco parentis laws, which means, in short, laws the government puts in place for our own good - like wearing seat belts.
Wearing seatbelts is a good idea - it's a fantastic idea. People should wear them regardless of their age and where they sit in the car. However, as a reasonably intelligent person, I took offense to the idea that "Big Brother" felt the need to lean over my shoulder and say, "Ok now, we need to make sure that you're strapped in. We don't think you're capable of doing it unless we demand that you do."
I had the same reaction when the state started talking about banning cell phones and driving. And now the law has passed for school zones and our fair city must decide if we want to extend the ban to the city limits.
First, I'm not completely against the idea of banning cell phones in school zones. When it comes to our children, their safety must be a priority and some people do in fact need someone to tell them they can't do something before they have the motivation to do what should be common sensical.
But therein lies the rub in loco parentis laws. We have become so reliant on someone else to tell us what is right or wrong that we have lost our own compass and ability to make those sound decisions.
No question, there are statistics out there tying texting and cell phone use to accidents. But I wonder - what about fiddling with the air conditioner or changing the radio station? When I was 16, I rear-ended a guy because I looked down for a second to change the tape in my radio (yes - car stereos used to include tape decks). Should there be legislation that says no more car stereos?
Fortunately, no one was hurt in that accident and I learned my lesson. But I sure wish lawmakers would quit trying to think for me. They have their hands full thinking for themselves.
Whitney White-Ashley is a staff writer at the Empire-Tribune. She can be reached by e-mailing email@example.com.