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Monday, August 15, 2005

Speeding towards T-town

Given that my partners in crime here have been so "serious" of late, I'll borrow this space for a few personal ruminations after having been more or less off-blog the last week. Like Ethan (in June) and Kaimi (in July), I had to pack out and move to my new school recently.  Instead of taking the 95 down the coast, I figured we'd enjoy the drive down Route 17 until we got to Charleston, SC.  What a jackass move.  The roads were slow, and I must have stopped through every town in Va, NC, SC, and Georgia!

We were almost out of Virginia en route to NC when I got pulled over for speeding (my main non-personality vice).  The kindly officer asked me if I was in law school.  I said, actually, I'm about to start teaching at a law school (I'm guessing he saw a teacher's manual to a casebook in my backseat).  He said, well, I guess you know why I pulled you over.  He informed me that Virginia has draconian speeding laws; had I been going just a few miles faster I would have been required to appear before a magistrate judge and spend the night in jail.  Jiminy Crickets.  Of course, he recognized that I wasn't driving dangerously (there was nary a car on the road at that point and I wasn't swerving or anything), so I got off with a mere 225 dollar ticket.   This was probably my only speeding ticket in memory, and while I think the penalties are a bit severe, I know that I have nothing to complain about.  If legislatures think speeding is the near-equivalent to crystal meth trafficking, then so be it.  That's democracy.  I happen to think that it would be better if we could adopt more pre-commitment strategies to avoid speeding.  My own strategy is to drive a weak-engined Civic, btw. But that's hardly sufficient it seems.  (Parenthetically, Ed Cheng (Brooklyn) has an interesting paper on speeding and Napster and structural impediments to law-breaking.)

More vivid reminders of speed's dangers were posted along South Carolina's roads, which in construction zones, posted photos of little girls saying, Please don't kill my daddy; he works on this road, or Let 'em work, let 'em live.   The best one was a sign that said something like, since 1988 28 people have died on this road.  Drive carefully. (Or maybe, don't be a statistic.)

I find these incredibly powerful semiotic gestures, and I wonder why I never saw this kind of state moralizing (I say that with respect not derision) in the North or even in California, let alone federal roads.  Maybe that will be a new PrawfsBlawg cause, after adoption and organ donation...and now cancer-reduction.

Anyway, Charleston SC is a glorious place to spend a night or twelve, eat pralines, and go on mule-drawn carriage rides.  We spent less than 16 hours there, but it made me want to go back soon.  We missed Savannah on the way down, but I gather it's not too far away and worth its own trip.  And T-town is growing on me by the nano-second.  As I write, I'm sitting in my study overlooking a pastoral golf course.  The home I'm renting for the year lends insights into the American dream, and its allure.  I'm paying less in rent now for a 2400 sq. foot home than I did for my 1BR in apt in Dupont Circle.  Everything else in TLH seems about the same price as big city living--restaurants, movie rentals,  upscale groceries are all the same.  And so are Target, Walmart and CVS.  You'd think that there'd be lower prices when the real estate is lower-priced; but my quick perusal of gas prices belies that.  It seems gas prices are higher in the poorer parts of town here.  Maybe that's because there's a higher likelihood of robbery, but it seems weird still.

As for Prawfs business, this week augurs the arrival of Brooks Holland, another junior crimprof who was a former public defender in New York and who now teaches at Gonzaga, in Washington (state).  I want to thank Bernie Meyler and Ekow Yankah for their posts the last few weeks. Hope to see you back soon. 

Posted by Administrators on August 15, 2005 at 10:27 AM in Dan Markel, Funky FSU | Permalink


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Welcome to Tallahassee, Dan! If you find yourself heading east on I-10 or US 90, look out for the signs welcoming you to several counties (Columbia and Suwannee, I think) with the words "Zero Drug Tolerance" and a fetching picture of a set of handcuffs.

Posted by: Glen | Aug 17, 2005 9:16:53 AM

Upstate New York also has the My Daddy Works Here signs... (and a significantly less draconian approach to speeding)

Posted by: Brian | Aug 16, 2005 1:48:33 PM

That type of road sign is also found on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, if memory serves me. But, Pennsylvania's sort of a southern state. (Ever heard of "Pennsyltucky?")

Posted by: John | Aug 15, 2005 8:28:21 PM

There are signs all over San Francisco with kids on them saying something like "Slow down! We live here!" Very nice, I think. I tend to think that bad driving is very anti-social and should be shamed- to my mind it's much more revealing about one's character than his or her sex life, for example.

Posted by: Matt | Aug 15, 2005 11:19:31 AM

I think littering was a 1000 dollar fine. Prison was for speeding through a construction zone, if I recall correctly.

Posted by: Dan Markel | Aug 15, 2005 11:01:31 AM

Do they still have the signs up saying that the penalty for littering is $XXX fine "and prison?" I remember being just blown away by that one when I last drove through S.C. (Or maybe it was speeding through a construction zone that threatened prison?)

As for Virginia, well, it still amazes me that they ban radar detectors, and yet everyone still goes faster here than anywhere else on the East Coast.

Posted by: Paul Gowder | Aug 15, 2005 10:46:06 AM

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