A while back I mentioned that I’d almost hit a skateboarder with my car when he, wearing earbuds in both ears, turned off a sidewalk right into oncoming traffic… and had the nerve to look outraged when I had to swerve frantically to avoid him. At least twice a week, on her way to work, my wife has to stop her car because someone, with earbuds and a smartphone, steps into the street in front of her car, oblivious to anything else. Because, after all, it’s their right to communicate where and when they want, regardless of the consequences.
And then there all are the cellphone and smartphone addicts, who feel that they have the right to communicate instantly, and often loudly, anywhere and at any time, even when driving in high-speed urban freeway traffic or after the airplane doors have been closed, or the texters who employ their smartphones in darkened theatres and opera houses, making it difficult for those beside and behind them to concentrate on what most people are there to see and hear – despite pointedly being told that texting and electronic devices are not permitted during the performance. Along with them are the talkers – who obviously feel they have the right to punctuate and comment on the performance while it is in progress.
Others who overextend their rights are the “information should be free” types, who insist it’s their right to pirate electronic versions of music or books, or to enjoy pirated versions, thereby depriving the creators of income from their creations.
Elsewhere in the fabric of “my right” activists are those who employ the highways to demonstrate their belief in solipsistic superiority – either by driving well below the speed limit, especially in the left-hand lane, or careening through traffic well above speed limits, or racing to the merge point and honking madly to part traffic, or engaging in some other vehicular activity that suggests that the rights of others are markedly inferior.
Among other “my rights” activists are the parents who insist that their child is always right, and that the teacher, professor, police officer, employer, or other authority figure is always wrong… or just “misunderstands” the needs of their most wonderful offspring.
Add to that the second amendment fanatics, who insist that it is their right, and everyone else’s, to obtain and carry more personal weapons in the U.S. than all in the armies in the world – without any real requirement for competency and with no real restrictions on who can purchase and use those weapons.
On top of all those people are those who believe that the laws of the land don’t apply to them, that they’re “special,” as illustrated by the fact that, according to FBI statistics for 2013, there were 49,851 assaults on police officers, meaning, that on average, one in every eleven police officers was assaulted in a single year. While I’d be among the first to admit that there are bad apples among police officers, no matter how well applicants for those positions are screened, there are bad apples in every profession, but bad apples or not, what do fifty thousand assaults a year on law enforcement personnel say about the great American public?
Isn’t it about time to stop asserting “my rights” and start looking out for the rights of others?