While most Rhode Islanders don’t deal with debilitating traffic on a daily basis almost everyone can remember an epic traffic tie-up they sat through at one point or another. When I lived in the D.C. area, I can remember several that were weather related (like a midday snowstorm) or beyond our control (the 9/11 attacks). I was also the victim of the then-infamous “Justice for Janitors” protest on the Roosevelt Bridge. This group sought to get attention for their cause by blocking the morning commute, similar to the act of traffic terrorism committed by the morons in Boston last week. I refuse to share the name of that group since publicity is what they seek but I do think it’s time that those of us who play by the rules push back and remind others that even in protests, there are limits and there should be dire consequences.
Just like yelling “fire” in a crowded theater is not protected free speech, impeding rush hour traffic and causing thousands of people to miss appointments, meetings and hourly work should not be protected either. After the incident on the Roosevelt Bridge, it was discovered that under current law each protester could only be fined $50. Several of D.C.s legal minds proposed a class act law suit noting that even if the protesters could not be held criminally, a civil suit could hurt their pocketbooks and hopefully provide enough of a deterrent to prevent further acts of traffic terrorism.
And make no mistake: these are acts of terrorism as lives were at risk. How many people do you think missed a doctor’s appointment? How many people were late to treatment at Dana Farber? One man who had been in an accident was diverted from a trauma center in Boston because the EMTs were worried he would die in traffic. Thankfully he survived, but how sad is it that some people in our society think that their cause “matters” more than the life of someone’s grandfather?
Although I am generally appalled by the high number of useless bills on the General Assembly calendar, I do hope that a legislator in Rhode Island introduces one that addresses this kind of domestic terrorism. Committing an act of traffic terrorism is the equivalent of taking hostages. Note that the morons in Boston had every intention of shutting Boston down: some of them were wearing diapers in anticipation of a long sit down. I’d start with mandatory jail time for an act of traffic terrorism and make sure that the fine is hefty too. The Boston brainiacs slunk home to their mother’s basements in Brookline and Jamaica Plain when a week in jail and losing their allowance may have been a better way to teach them to play by the rules.