Instead of trying to keep up with the craziness in Washington and the laziness in OKC – where our lame duck governor will be calling the legislative turkeys home to roost again – let’s take a holiday break and look at two innovations that are getting a lot of free publicity these days. I reference the advent of self-driving cars and the explosion of the drone population.
A pal says she’s ready for self-driving cars, awaiting the day when everyone on the road will be kept in their places on their ways to whichever wherevers. My vision is more akin to watching cartoon lemmings pouring over a cliff, which is likely what would happen once the master control inside those smart cars is hacked. And you know the same mentality behind revenge porn websites will move to taking control of exes’ autos with no good intentions. Let’s face it: there’s something inherently un-American about the kind of lock-step mindset needed to deprive us of our inalienable right to change lanes whenever we feel like it.
Now, all this droning on and on about drones. Model airplane hobbyists have been playing with their toys for decades: buzzing picnickers and taking pictures over inaccessible sites – such as neighbors’ swimming pools. So, now we have drones, and drone-selling advocates have decided that this is the way packages should be delivered in the 21st Century. They proclaim visions of blimps full of merchandise looming over the countryside with drones on board to be dispatched for the final delivery. Our skies are crowded enough as is, with drones already posing hazards to airplane traffic and those fighting wild fires. Worse would be the sheer nuisance of having drone deliveries in our neighborhoods – noisome, intrusive and likely monitoring everything in their paths.
I spent a very good part of my life working for a mail-order company. We thrived because of the reliability of the postal service. The other guys do OK, too. I’ve already envisioned a sign proclaiming my abode a No Drone Zone, adding that “Below the pines, the sucker’s mine” with a shotgun graphic. I foresee drone skeet as becoming a new sport. One Oklahoma legislator even proposed some anti-drone legislation last spring that would protect real shooters and not just those shooting off our mouths.
A recent South Carolina prison break was abetted by a drone dropping wire cutters into a maximum security unit. Prisons are now seeking funds for anti-drone netting. Furthermore, our government sends large drones half-way around the world to shoot missiles at folks in foreign lands. You know those seeking revenge are working to arm smaller drones in similar fashions: maybe with biological or chemical agents; perhaps explosive payloads to be delivered on collision. Then, too, we will have to decide how weaponized drones will figure under the Second Amendment.
I’m a verifiable old coot in many ways, but I think that common sense – not that common any more – says that we should examine tighter restrictions on drone operators instead of turning the sky over to them.
(Gary Edmondson is Chair of the Stephens County Democratic Party.)