Jim Thompson
Jim Thompson
By Jim Thompson
HCP columnist

Law and order seems to be one of the predominant issues this election season. I am for law and order and hope you are, too.

These so-called protests that have destroyed buildings, livelihoods and neighborhoods across the country must stop. However, I think respect for law and order has diminished over the years. To prove my point, I have a few questions for you.

At what point do you stop to wait for a red light? When I moved to Raleigh, N.C. over 30 years ago, I remarked that if you were within two blocks of a light ahead when it started to turn yellow, you had better not stop unless you wanted to be rear-ended by the automobile behind you. I finally decided this was because they had, for the time, extraordinary long light cycles. In some cases, once you were stopped by a light, you could get well into “War and Peace” (this was pre-cell phones) before it would change in your favor again.

If you are on foot, do you wait for the light (or the pedestrian signal) to turn green or do you walk across the street on a red light if no traffic is coming? I know what you were taught in school, likely kindergarten or before, but if you do not follow this admonishment to obey all traffic signals, at what point did you decide this no longer applies to you? Another question, as a pedestrian, do you cut across the street in the middle of a block?

When you were a kid, did you play ball in the middle of the street? Did it ever cross your mind this might be breaking the law?

When walking on a street or road without sidewalks, do you walk on the left facing traffic or on the right with traffic? It may not be a law, but when I was young, there were nearly constant public service announcements on radio that told you to walk on the left, facing traffic, that it was the safest thing to do. When I walk our dogs, I still do the same thing.

When at the grocery store or farmer’s market, do you snitch a grape or perhaps an apple, eating it in the establishment before getting to the checkout counter? Or perhaps, you grab a candy bar deep in the sweets aisle and make sure you have consumed it and shed the wrapper before approaching the cash register?

These seem to be small things. Yet, when you look at the rioting, property destruction and personal injury caused in the last few months in the name of social justice, how do you feel about that? Is that different than the purloined grape? Is it OK in all instances, is it OK when it is in some distant place that does not affect you? Perhaps you have been watching news channels that do not even cover this or at most give it a cursory whitewash.

Seattle is an excellent example of this. Earlier in the summer, Seattle even allowed an area to exist in their downtown that was called autonomous. Law enforcement was kept out. Finally, after one or two deaths (who's counting in these situations?), the city had the gumption to move in and dismantle this act of lawlessness.

As I grew older and had more responsibilities, I began to travel to various major cities for industry conventions. I gave talks, met customers, recruited new customers. One of the favorite convention cities in this country was Seattle (this was about 25 years ago). In those days, invariably, one of the cautions in the prework packet for attendees went like this (not an exact quote): “Be especially careful and avoid jaywalking or walking across the street against the light here in Seattle. There is a no-tolerance policy, and you will likely get a ticket from your friendly police officer.”

I liked this.

We’ve come a long way, baby.

Jim Thompson, formerly of Marshall, is a graduate of Hillsboro High School and the University of Cincinnati. He resides in Duluth, Ga. and is a columnist for The Highland County Press. He may be reached at jthompson@taii.com.