The Privileged Many: “Professional Courtesy” Exposed

By Jim Baxter, NMA President

Jennifer Muir of the Orange County Register did a little digging at the California DMV and found that thousands of state employees have special license plates that are not traceable for enforcement purposes. The recipients are primarily involved with enforcement activities, although for many that’s a stretch. The rationalization is that they need untraceable plates to protect themselves from vengeful criminals.

As it turns out the “confidential plates” also protect the holders from traffic tickets, parking fines, road tolls, and other unpleasantries of life. They are just one more example of our two tiered society where the farmers, clerks, merchants, mechanics and homemakers are held to the letter of the law while the police, courthouse residents, and elected officials have “professional courtesy.”

Our system was based on the ideal that everyone is to be held to the same standard, be equally responsible for our actions and that there not be an anointed elite with privileged status. Granted, this is an “ideal” and ideals are something we strive for knowing that perfection is usually not achievable.

Still, when a glaring and pregnant contradiction to the ideal is so apparent and malignant, as is “professional courtesy,” why is it so readily ignored?

Jennifer Muir’s exposé uncovered a program that has existed for three decades and was certainly obvious to our “representatives,“ those in positions of power. Of course they too were attracted to confidential license plates.

For as long as traffic laws have been enforced there has been professional courtesy among police officers. Cops don’t give tickets to other cops. Why is that? If these laws have merit and it’s to everyone’s benefit that these laws be obeyed why aren’t the enforcers held accountable?

Cops don’t let other cops rob, kidnap, or murder — what’s up with traffic laws? Could it be that many of these laws are not necessary, constructive, or fair, and the police inherently know this? Is it that many of these laws and their enforcement are more about making a buck for the sponsoring governments than they are about public safety?

Perhaps the ultimate solution to professional courtesy is to trim back the laws to those the cops will enforce against other cops and see how that works out.

Image Credit: IntangibleArts

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