Saturday, October 07, 2006

MEME: Weekend Assignment #132: Cell Phones -- Threat or Menace?

Weekend Assignment #132: Cell Phones -- Threat or Menace?

Weekend Assignment #132: Was that professor justified in doing what he did (go to the site in the link above to view the video)? Have people completely lost all sense of courtesy when it comes to their cell phones? This is a pure opinion piece, folks -- tell me what you think.

Extra credit: Do you sometimes answer your cell phone at inappropriate times?

Dear John,

Well, the leaves are swirling in the winds of Autumn, temperatures are plummeting into the “nippley” zone and damn fool students think that THEY aren't subject to the rules.

Most institutions of higher learning have specific rules regarding the activation of pagers, cell phones, “Blackberries” and their ilk, cameras, etc. If an institution has a policy forbidding the use of such devices in classrooms and lecture halls, with confiscation and destruction spelled out in the policy (e.g. “Any university employee may confiscate and immediately destroy banned devices or return same to their owner at a later time, at the employee's discretion...”), then the actions of the professor are justifiable. If not, he has destroyed private property and the student has legal recourse in the matter (any bets how sympathetic a small-claims judge might be?). In the end it really does depend on the institution's own policies.

The demonstrative professor in question may have stated in person or in writing that “no cell phones/pagers/cameras, etc. would be tolerated” in his lectures. If he did that, while his reaction was more than a little extreme from my point of view, he was nevertheless justified in the action he took. Regardless, the sad thing is that the onus is on the professor or the institution to regulate the behavior in the classroom. Neither common courtesy nor common sense prevail in our institutions of higher education these days, if they ever did.

It is completely possible and is most desirable to NOT be in touch 24/7. Just turn the damn cell phones, pagers, telephones and computers off. There is no need for you to be endangering me as you weave and wobble out of your lane because you have a phone in your ear and your concentration is more on the conversation than on the traffic around you. I followed one of those fools into town the other day. She was driving a minivan with at least three kids I could see and had a bloody cell phone held up to her ear. The only thing I could do was to call the Bangor PD and advise them that a possibly impaired driver was heading their way. I accurately described the driver's behavior to the dispatcher and they were waiting for her when she crossed the city line... I had pulled off to make the call, so she was pulled over by the time I came upon the rotating blues... I'm sure the officer gave her a stern talking to, if nothing else. If only more of us would call the police when we see unsafe behavior such as this, perhaps the next time a bill comes up to ban talking on a cell phone while driving a moving vehicle (even with the so-called “hands free” option) it will pass into law.

We can't legislate morality, it is true. But we can legislate acceptable behavior by drivers while behind the wheel of a motor vehicle. Driving is a privilege, not a right. Talk on a cell phone while driving – lose your license. What could be more straightforward? If people can't utilize common courtesy and self-regulate their behavior for the common good, then strict laws mandating behavior becomes the only other viable alternative. I'm not ready to return to the 18th century, when all and sundry carried the law in their own hands and enforced same with a revolver on their belts.

Hope you have a better conclusion to your weekend than the way it started out. And if I catch you with a cell phone to your ear while behind the wheel, don't be too surprised when the cops pull you over for DUIE – Driving Under the Influence of Electronics.


P.S. My cell phone is for emergencies. I do not carry it turned on. I end any call on the fool thing by simply turning it off. Sure, I've missed a call back or two – but I haven't used it in an inappropriate locale or manner, either.

Updated @20:12PM Sunday evening to delete a reference that was taken as a personal attack. That was never the intention, so the offending material has been removed. I sincerely apologize to my cyber-friend, Carly Gordon, for any real or perceived harm I have caused. It doesn't take a cell phone to behave in an inappropriate manner... wil

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