Harry Reynolds opinion column: Bad driving as a form of expression

An old guy was driving along on an interstate highway, in the left-hand lane, going 55; which you can do on interstates. Heck, the minimum speed limit is 45. Most of the 45ers are trying to commit suicide.

The speed limit, as the discerning reader knows, is 70; a speed limit most drivers regard as a recommendation. State troopers do not see it that way. But, they – being rational human beings – know you go with the flow.

Occasionally, they will conduct one of those roadside check things, when all motorists are required to show them their driver’s licenses, insurance cards, the last time there was a full moon, and comment on the sanity of psychiatrists.

Roadside checks (they call them roadside safety checks in the good, old USA) remind me of check-points in totalitarian countries. It happened to me one time in Wyoming; which upset my four-year-old daughter. Actually, she was terrified.

That is the way most people in Putin Land must feel; you could still end up in Siberia, which is fine, as the president has assured us Vladimir is a peach of guy, even if he is inclined to poke his nose into our elections.

Freedom is such a precious thing, but easily given way. History abounds with the lure of autocracy. I watched a news segment recently in which a man declared he did not mind if the police stopped and searched him anytime, anywhere. He would have loved the KGB.

We will delve into the freedom thing at a future day, when I am ready to go to war over the inclination of some people to trade this precious gift in the name of security, and idolatry.

So, this old guy is driving down the left-hand lane on the interstate. A parade followed; there was a whole lot for screaming and honking; all manner of obscenity polluted the fresh country air.

Unfortunately, for the old guy, when he finally got back into the right-hand lane – nearly causing a collision – and exited the highway, a man with a big revolver pulled up beside and emptied the chamber, point-blank. He missed.

An hour later, after the police had left with the gun-toting, road-rage driver, a local television reporter interviewed the alleged victim. I say “alleged,” for a specific reason, which will be made clear shortly.

Wearing bib overalls; a straw, deranged hat on his head; a chaw peeking from his lips; he could not understand why anyone would shoot at him. He was driving 55, right?

During the interview, it became clear that he deliberately stayed in the left-hand in a one-driver attempt to persuade his fallen followers to see the error of their ways. He knew what he was about.

The motorists in his wake knew it; the reporter knew it; the camera man knew it; the people on the scene knew it; and every person watching it on TV knew it.

Well, this sort of relates to totalitarianism, in this one old guy, yearning to dictate what others do, decided to pull a Putin. The motorists behind him, being “don’t-tell- me what to do, red-blooded Americans, in an instant, became Mad Max.

Had they all been armed, they would have put Bonnie and Clyde’s car to shame. Onlookers would have pulled out their shotguns, AK-47s, 44-magnums, BB guns, etc., and fired away. The female reporter would have pulled a revolver out of her handbag; the camera man, his derringer; the kid watching, his BB gun; and the old lady, her cane gun.

It would have surprised no one had a mob descended on the jail, carried the road-rage guy to a bar and bought him barrels of whiskey.

As for the old guy, he might be holed up in Russia, a much safer place.

(Postscript: State police have been busy lately ticketing motorist who hog the left-hand lane.)

Harry Reynolds can be reached at reynoldsharry1943@gmail.com

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