The Passenger’s Curse Under New Arizona Bill
February 8, 2017 (Fault Lines) — On occasion, one hears something so wrong, blatantly stupid, mean and so downright villainous, that one is forced to poorly paraphrase Mark Twain and:
…step outside and cuss for ten minutes just to get the taste back in your mouth.
As it turns out, I was still cussing when I came back inside. Why? Because of Arizona House Bill 2305 and the guy who sponsored it, Republican Representative Anthony Kern. Why should anyone care? Even if you don’t live in Arizona, it’s laws like these that rot this country from within. Inch by inch, they chip away at the already disintegrated freedoms that once existed.
Luckily, it has yet to become a law, as some people actually have concerns about the harm it could cause. What harm, you ask? It criminalizes riding as a passenger in a car without an ID. That’s right: Jumping in the car with your wife to run down to the store to score some Huggies for Junior and not having an ID could land you in jail for four months and a $750 fine. Unless you can show up to court and prove you had a valid ID at the time of the ticket, in which case do you think they would let you go scot free after you wasted the court’s time in their sincere effort to enforce this horrible law?
Don’t count on it.
Who will this law affect? Mostly people of color, since black people are more heavily targeted by law enforcement. They would be a source of revenue if they have no ID. It offers the cops another reason to harass people since making them up on the fly can be taxing on the law enforcement brain. Deputy Pima County Attorney Kathleen Mayer thinks it’s a swell idea because it will help cops, and therefore help her, prosecute more people and suck their marrow for fine money.
It could also serve as an ad-hoc immigration enforcement scheme as someone who is say, not from around those parts and has no ID, can certainly not show up in court later to show the judge their ID. Of course, police officers would have the discretion to arrest people on the spot, seeing as how it’s a misdemeanor, not just a traffic infraction. Plenty of cop shops in Arizona wouldn’t mind holding onto someone a few extra days so the feds can get around to picking them up.
Will anyone else be affected?
Arizona State legislators? Nope.
Police Officers? Nope.
Rich People? Let’s see:
Cop: Good evening sir this is a fine Bentley your are driving, do you have any Grey Poupon and would it be too much to ask your lovely and expensively jeweled companion to show me her ID?
Rich Guy: Just a second while I call Representative Kern.
Laws like this negatively affect everyone but the people who introduce and support them. Who hasn’t lost track of their wallet or purse for a day or so? Checking online and seeing no transactions on your accounts tells you it’s in some stupid place right under your nose like in the refrigerator, laundry hamper or between the seats of your car, and now these people want to extract your money and threaten your freedom over it.
Most people have their faculties in enough order to never be caught as a passenger without their ID. But if it happened and this bill became law, you would have to miss work, go to the courthouse and show your ID to the judge or clerk of court, and you can bet there will be some sort of monetary extraction. Such a law would not serve the people of Arizona. What’s worse is that some pin-head legislator in some other state might now think it’s a good idea for his or her state.
Or some nastier version of it.
I hope the people of Arizona do the right thing next election. Send Anthony Kern packing just for introducing this bill. Anyone who votes for it, vote them out too.