Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Marion Barry's need for speed is greatly diminished

JSB's Mayor for Life Marion Barry had yet another run in with the law over the weekend. This time he was pulled over for driving too slowly, and Park Police ended up detaining Barry for three hours because they were showing he had a suspended license.

Barry says his license has never been suspended. The D.C. Department of Motor Vehicles was able to confirm his claim -- although they acknowledged that a "computer glitch" was telling the Park Police otherwise.

Barry has now accused the police of targeting and "racially profiling" him.

On the one hand, I understand his frustration. For a man, like Barry, who has done so many crazy and illegal things, getting stopped by the police for driving too slowly would seem the height of absurdity.

On the other hand, driving too slowly is underrated as a danger to life and limb. I remember, long ago, being a passenger in a car that an impaired driver was operating at an improperly low speed. Too slowly, we crawled through a red light and into a busy intersection. Too slowly, the driver reacted to the honking horns and screeching breaks by, too slowly, continuing to make his way to the other side of the intersection. It was the most harrowing five minutes of my life.

During his time as DC mayor, Barry, a crack and hooker enthusiast, led by example and showed his constituents the negative consequences of "life in the fast lane." Now in his eighth decade, wouldn't it be fitting if Barry's final lesson is showing us all that the slow lane is also fraught with peril?

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