FREEDOM OF SPEECH IN ITS PURIST FORM

Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech…

–Excerpt from the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The right to freedom of speech has been used to justify the infringement of other rights by those on all sides of the political spectrum.  Of all the rights guaranteed in the U.S. Constitution, the right to freedom of speech is one of the most abused.

A right is abused when the exercise of it infringes on another right.  For example:  There used to be a noise ordinance in this county.  People weren’t allowed to play their car stereos too loudly, or make any other noise that disturbed the peace.  But the Florida Supreme Court overruled the ordinance.  Now, people can play their car stereos as loudly as they want, no matter where they drive or park, and no matter what time of day or night it is.  The reason the Florida Supreme Court overruled the noise ordinance is that it considered it an infringement on the right to freedom of speech.  But what about the right to peace?  What about the right to be able to sleep at night without being constantly awakened by noise so loud that it causes your whole house to vibrate?  What about the right to drive without being subjected to noise from another vehicle that’s so loud it damages your hearing, and distracts you from your driving?  Obviously, the Florida Supreme Court was not taking the right to peace into account when it overruled the noise ordinance.

After the previously mentioned wreck, I wrote an honest account of my experience.  I wrote this to submit to my insurance company.  But my insurance company dismisses it; it only follows the police report.  So I want to post it here to get it off my chest (to vent), and to give an example of what I believe the founders of this country really meant by the freedom of speech.  Freedom of speech, in its purest form, is that which does not infringe on another freedom.  When the right of one infringes on the right of another, it becomes a wrong.  And in my opinion, the following statement is an exercise in freedom of speech which does not infringe on another freedom–another right.

My account of automobile accident of July 6, 2012

I was at the intersection of Fairfield Drive and South Dakota Street.  I was in the center (turn) lane.  I was poised to turn left at South Dakota, into the parking lot of Members First Credit Union.  There were no cars in front of me in the turn lane.  There was no green arrow at the intersection, but the light was green.  Before turning, I checked, and made sure that there were no vehicles in the oncoming lanes.  I had my turn signal on, and my seatbelt on.  And my attention was fully on the road.  Again, I am positive that there was no oncoming traffic when I made my turn.  Then, as if out of nowhere, a truck hit the right side of my car, crushing in the body.  The impact was so severe that I was thrown sideways, and bruised from my seatbelt.  Most of the damage was on the back right passenger door, but there was also damage on the front right passenger door, and on the column between the two doors, including complete shattering of the right back window.  The impact crushed in the body so far that the right back tire was completely exposed.

The driver of the truck was driving extremely fast; after hitting my car he continued toward an electrical transformer and crashed into it.  So he hit my car, then the transformer; two collisions.  His airbag had gone off, because he had hit my car, then the transformer, head-on.  It is my opinion that he was definitely exceeding the speed limit, when he hit my car, because of the severe impact on my car; but especially because when he hit the transformer, the front of his truck was crushed. 

An Escambia Sheriff’s deputy arrived on the scene within minutes.  He told me to stay in the car, until the paramedics arrived.  Then other deputies arrived.  At no time did any of the sheriff’s deputies ask me what had happened.  At no time did any of them even ask for my license, registration, and proof of insurance.  After the paramedics had arrived, and checked me over, I got out of the car and asked one of the deputies what I should do next; I had not been in an accident since 2007.  He told me that a Florida state trooper would arrive, and that I should wait for him.  The accident had occurred at approximately 4:40 p.m.  It seemed like at least thirty minutes before the trooper arrived.  Because the Escambia County sheriff’s deputies arrived almost immediately after the accident, they could have more easily assessed the situation than the state trooper could, since he arrived so much later.

When the trooper arrived, he asked for my driver’s license, proof of insurance, and registration.  He took my license and insurance card, but never even bothered to look at my registration; which I found strange, because I had just purchased this car, and was going to pay the taxes and fees the next business day.  The trooper asked me what happened, and quickly moved on, as if in a hurry.  He got a statement from the other driver, and (according to him) one witness; though I do not recall seeing him talk with the sheriff’s deputies.  Then the trooper sat in his car for a very long time.  The other driver’s family members helped him remove materials from his truck, and his truck was towed away before the trooper reemerged from his car.  And the other driver was gone before the trooper reemerged from his car.

When the trooper finally got back out of his car, he said I was at fault in the accident, and gave me a citation.  I asked him how that could be possible; since the light was green, and there was absolutely no oncoming traffic when I made my turn.  That’s when I found out why it seemed as if the other driver had come out of nowhere.  The trooper told me the witness had told him that the other driver was in a line of cars in the center (turn) lane to turn in the opposite direction (left at South Dakota, into the parking lot of Lowe’s) from my turn.  According to the trooper, the witness said the truck driver had moved out of the line of cars ahead, and into the oncoming lanes.  In other words, the other driver changed his mind, and jumped into the oncoming lanes.  So the driver obviously could not see me from the line of cars.  And obviously the other driver was not looking, as he got into the oncoming lanes.  Therefore, in a manner of speaking, he did come out of nowhere.  I explained that the other driver had to have been exceeding the speed limit.  The trooper didn’t deny that, but said there was no way he could tell how fast the man was driving because he didn’t see it happen.  But he had not given the other driver a citation.  I asked why I got a citation in the first place.  The trooper told me it was because the other driver had the right-of-way.  I asked how that could possibly be, since I had begun my turn, at a green light, with no oncoming traffic, when the other driver suddenly jumped out of the line of cars in his turn lane and into the oncoming lanes, hitting me.  The trooper repeated that the other driver had the right-of-way, no matter how fast he was going, and despite the fact that he had made a sudden move that could not have been anticipated by me (or anyone else).

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