The Sceptic Blog

Random thoughts of a random chappy

Speed camera detectors

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  1. On a previous occasion I outlined the Torah objections to high-prize raffles being used by charities.  The Side-by-Side charity, an enormously worthy charity that works with children who have special needs, runs an annual multi-option raffle known as a Chinese Auction.  Looking at this year’s list of prizes I found something that horrified me even more than the basic concept of exploiting human greed to raise money for charity.
  2. Raffle 13 is for a “GPS Snooper Safety Alert System”.  The caption to the prize is “Don’t get caught by that speed camera – don’t be tricked, be one step ahead”.  The detector is advertised as providing “advance warning of police speed traps, accident blackspots, speed cameras, schools, hazardous and dangerous situations on the road”.
  3. There is only one reason for warning people that they are approaching speed traps or cameras: to enable them to speed without being caught.
  4. A number of aspects of Torah law are engaged by this device.  First, it is against English law to aid and abet the commission of an offence.  Facilitating speeding is aiding the commission of an offence and is therefore unlawful.  Supplying the detector is part of the facilitation, and is also unlawful.  Torah law requires us to abide by the law of our host community – the dina d’malchuto – and the provision of this prize is therefore contrary to English law and halachah.
  5. Secondly, speeding itself is dangerous, and is therefore contrary to the Torah requirement to protect ones own health.
  6. Thirdly, speeding poses a known and statistically significant threat to the lives of others: therefore if a person speeds and kills or injures others he will be culpable in halochoh both in the civil sense as a mazik (tortfeasor) and as having neglected the injunction to care for others as for oneself.
  7. Fourthly, the Jewish equivalent of part of the prohibition of aiding and abetting an offence is the prohibition against putting a stumbling block before the blind: by providing this detector one supports and encourages those who are too stupid or wicked to see the importance of not driving dangerously.
  8. How appalling that a charity dedicated to the wonderful work of supporting children with physical and mental disabilities should have, in a moment’s uncharacteristic thoughtlessness, caused itself to assist one of the crimes that is most responsible for causing death and injury to children and adults in England today.

Written by Daniel Greenberg

June 27, 2005 at 12:00 am

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