Do We Still Have American Rights?

3 Laws in Various Towns and Cities in US

Let me start out by stating that this article is not directed at any specific political party. I am reviewing 3 laws in various towns and cities in the United States that I think violate American Rights as well as Constitutional Rights.

I believe in law and order. I believe that people that violate the law should be punished in a court of law. What I don’t believe in are some of the laws classified as laws when there are so many more important issues to worry about.

Law Number 1: Youth Curfews

As of 2009, at least 500 US cities have curfews on teenage youth, including 78 of the 92 cities with a population greater than 180,000. In most of these cities, curfews prohibit children under 18 from being on the streets after 11:00 pm during the week and after midnight on weekends. About 100 cities also have daytime curfews to keep children off the streets during school hours. While I agree that I don’t want my children running around out on the streets at all hours of the night, I think this is the parents’ responsibility. There are times that teenagers will need to be out past 11 pm during the week and midnight on a weekend. Here are a few examples:

– Work: Most teenagers that have jobs work in the fast food industry. In today’s times, a lot of restaurants are open until late into the next morning or even 24 hours. Some state laws prohibit employees under the age of 18 working past specific hours, but some have no restrictions at all. A teenager working until 1, 2, or even 3 in the morning is common when school is not in session. Some people will make the comment that parents should not let their children work that late. But also in today’s times, a lot of teenagers have to work to either support themselves or help support their families whether it be assisting their parents with bills or that they have a child of their own.

– Sporting events: High school sports can extend late into the night. Then when you put travel into the equation, some high school students drive a few hours to participate in or support their school’s sport teams.

I believe that yes as a police officer if you see a group of teenagers out, then they should keep an eye on them and make sure that they are not doing something that would violate the law, or if they observe suspicious activity, then approach the teenager to find out why they are out. I don’t believe that every single one of our youth out on the roads past 11 pm or midnight needs to be pulled over and treated like a criminal for holding down a job while going to school.

Law Number 2: Swearing

Last month in Middleborough, Massachusetts, a law was passed that if you swear in public, you would be fined $20. The most obvious right this violates is the First Amendment which states:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

There is a difference in a cuss word or 2 coming out and someone screaming numerous cuss words causing them to disturb the peace. While I will be the first to say that I believe anyone swearing in public around strangers or especially children is in very poor taste, law enforcement should not be able issue a citation for it. I really do not understand how this law ever got passed with the First Amendment protecting freedom of speech.

Another question about this law; what if a person has Tourette Syndrome? If someone with Tourette Syndrome was approached by a police officer, would they have to provide documentation on the spot that shows they have been diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome?

Then you have to ask yourself; what words do law enforcement of Middleborough, Massachusetts consider profanity and what words do they consider possibly inappropriate but not illegal? You can turn on any cable channel at any given time and hear curse words. How can you fine the public for using these words when the city allows the public access to cable networks using these words? Out of the 3 laws that I am writing about today, this is by far the most ridiculous of them all.

Law Number 3: Talking on Your Cell Phone While Driving

This law is the most controversial of all. I am all for the laws that are against people texting while driving. When you are texting, you are looking down, not out the windows, not at your mirrors, but down at a small screen looking for letters to type out. I don’t care how good you claim you are at texting, or that you claim you can text without even looking at your phone; this puts everyone including the driver, passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians at risk of being injured or killed. But we are not talking about this law. We are talking about it being illegal to be on your phone talking while driving unless you have a hands free device.

There is no law prohibiting people from eating and driving, to let go of the steering wheel to adjust the radio, heat, or air conditioner, or for a driver to be able to have conversations with passengers in the car. There is no law prohibiting drivers from using a CB radio, which is virtually the same thing. What is the benefit of having a cell phone if you can not use it while driving? There are plenty of times that drivers find themselves needing to be on a cell phone while driving.

– Getting directions: If you are looking for a specific house or business

– Talking to family

– Work issues coming up especially if you are in a supervisor/management role

– Receiving a call about upcoming traffic obstacles

I could go on and on, but won’t. I know I will get the argument back that drivers could pull over to make or receive these types of calls, but in my opinion, if it’s not illegal for someone to eat a hamburger while driving, put on make up while driving, or use a CB radio which is EXACTLY the same thing, then how can there be a law telling me I can not be on my cell phone?


While you may disagree with me, I feel that instead of wasting law enforcement hours on these petty issues, that they should be keeping drunk drivers off the roads instead of letting them slide. They should be looking for drug dealers that are corrupting our youth. They should be fining people for reckless driving or speeding excessively over the speed limit. A lot of cities big and small have police departments that need more help due to budget cuts. They need better equipment to protect them and to assist them to do their jobs. Instead of focusing on the bigger issues, the bigger picture, local governments are passing laws such as the three above for the police to enforce, instead of truly serving the public.

I feel sorry for the teenager working the late shift at Taco Bell to help his mom pay bills that gets pulled over for being out past midnight, being on his cell phone letting his mom know that he is on his way home so she does not worry, and that lets a curse word slip when the officer approaches him. Will he be hauled “downtown” instantly?

Tim Martin is a Technology specialist, who gives us insights into the technology and software that helps us to get through our day. Technology is everywhere, an increasingly pervasive part of our lives. Tim helps us make sense of it in many ways.