Apr 21 • 7M

You Can't Just Do Whatever You Want

Common sense is still a thing, even if not acknowledged.

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Charlotte Clymer is a writer and LGBTQ advocate. You've probably seen her on Twitter (@cmclymer). This is the podcast version of her blog "Charlotte's Web Thoughts", which you can subscribe to here: charlotteclymer.substack.com
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(credit: Boris Girginov // Getty)

[Quick personal note: my kind and patient speaking agent wants me to remind you that Pride Month is coming. If you’re looking for a speaker for your company, conference, college or some related Pride event, I’m available. Do inquire.]

In the United States, a person does not have the right to randomly get in a car and do whatever the hell they want in it. For starters, there are a hell of a lot of traffic rules no matter where you live. You must obey these. They are seen as common sense.

For example, even if you approach an empty intersection with no one for miles around, you must stop at red. Every time. This is universally accepted. There is no national debate on whether or not someone should stop at a red light. You don’t assume you won’t hurt someone. You stop.

Everyone has blown a red light in their lifetime, sure, but when you get a ticket for doing so, you accept it. Again: common sense. Same for turn signals, switching lanes, speed limits, proximity to other vehicles, respect for road signs etc. etc. etc.

There are even manufacturing regulations on vehicles to ensure you and everyone around you has an expectation of safety.

Are there debates on the particulars of all these laws and regulations? Sure, but no rational adult wants to wholly do away with them.

Common sense.

To ensure you have an adequate grasp of these laws and regulations, every state requires you to obtain a driver’s license. To obtain a driver’s license, you must go through a probationary/waiting period, demonstrate your learning, and pay fees.

Upon getting the license, you are entered into a government database to ensure accountability that the standards have been met. Authorities can easily identify you by your car registration and driver’s license number for accountability.

Common sense.

Severely disabled persons are often not permitted to drive. Not all disabilities are disqualifying but many understandably fit the bill. The most common disability is eyesight. If you cannot see the road, you cannot rationally negotiate it with a vehicle.

Common sense.

There are no congressional lobbyists arguing that blind persons have a constitutional right to drive. All accept this, even citizens who are blind.

You cannot drive under the influence. You'll go to jail. You could lose your job. You may be publicly shamed. Your license could be revoked.

There are no congressional lobbyists arguing that there should be NO laws pertaining to driving while intoxicated.

In almost every state, car insurance is required. A failure to have it will lead to consequences.

This is seen as common sense.

In every state, cars must be properly secured with a brake and lock, lest they roll away or are stolen and kill someone.

Common sense.

And the vast majority of Americans, regardless of political ideology, accept this huge system of accountability. Why?

Common sense.

Is this system perfect? Of course not, but it has evolved through decades of tweaking after trial-and-error and many, many deaths.

The Framers of the Constitution did not anticipate motor vehicles. We do not use this fact to ban them or to let them go unrestricted.

Instead, we have used common sense over the years to find an imperfect balance and mitigate danger to us all. And we’re okay with this. If a recurring problem arose with motor vehicles that endangered us, it would be addressed. Maybe not fast but it would be.

There are no credible national organizations dominated by schlubby white men protesting that these common sense regulations are a government overreach. There are no politicians running on a platform that calls for drivers to be able to do whatever the hell they want with their cars.

There are no talk radio hosts claiming a fatal massive car pile-up on a highway is a leftist conspiracy to implement government regulations.

And no person, even among the less-than-rational, would attach a purist view of patriotism or "manliness" to an argument about driver’s licenses. Ever.

Folks, if we can all come together and respect car ownership and operation and accountability of both for the safety of everyone, surely our elected officials can get real and protect our communities from gun violence. This isn’t a major leap in logic.

I’m a military veteran who grew up around guns. I respect gun ownership. But I don’t like seeing innocent people gunned down because of lax, atrocious gun laws. These do not contradict each other.

Call me irrational if you want, but I think many of you among my fellow folks who come from a gun culture aren't thinking this through.

Take a step back. Breathe. Think.

Because none of this--the constant massacres of innocents--is worth it.

[Hey, friends, quick note: this is my main source of income. It’s how I pay the bills. I would love if you could support my work with a paid subscription. It would mean a whole hell of a lot.]


Hi, I’m Charlotte Clymer, and this is Charlotte’s Web Thoughts, my Substack. It’s completely free to access and read, but if you feel so moved to support my writing, please consider upgrading to a paid subscription: just $7/month or save money with the $70/annual sub. You can also go way above and beyond by becoming a Founding Member at $210.