News Flash: Man Sues NTSB Over Support for Ron Paul

Blames agency for “cognitive dissonance” in political views.

La Satira News Service.  Eddie Howitzer of Fullstop, Pennsylvania, is not your typical Ron Paul supporter.

“A Ron Paul presidency would be an unmitigated disaster,” says Howitzer.  “Dismantling the Fed like he wants to do would destabilize our financial system and send us back to the days of bank panics.  Protectionist trade policies would cause other nations to adopt similar attitudes toward us, stifling exports and increasing the prices of necessary imports.  And you can kiss goodbye to whatever political clout we still have on the world stage if he gets elected.”

Nevertheless, Howitzer says he has no choice but to support Paul in the next election.  Why the change of heart?  Persuasion from the National Transportation Safety Board…albeit indirectly.

“It was their proposal for a federal ban on cell phone use while driving that really did it,” Howitzer says.  “Granted, we should all be aware of the hazards of distracted driving; but an all-out ban is the sort of knee-jerk over-regulation that really symbolizes the Washington culture.  So what else is there to do but support Ron Paul, the symbol of anti-Washington culture?”

Howitzer doesn’t plan to go quietly, though.  A lawsuit has been filed in Punxsutawney County District Court seeking unspecified damages for the pain and suffering caused by the cognitive dissonance arising from being forced to support a candidate he views as unsuitable.  He and his lawyers are considering upgrading the suit to class action status.  “I can’t be the only one in this situation,” Howitzer says.

Howitzer, who runs a small chain of military surplus outlets, says he depends on his cell phone to communicate with employees at his various store locations, which are scattered throughout Pennsylvania.  His car is equipped with a hands-free unit.  “Of course driving is the priority,” says Howitzer, “and whoever I’m talking with understands that I may need to put them on hold to deal with traffic.  Texting is an absolute no-no.”  Despite these precautions, adopting the NTSB recommendations would still impact his ability to carry on business.

Howitzer says he would be willing to drop the suit if the NTSB rescinds its recommendation.

Milton Fillmore, a law professor at the University of Punxsutawney, holds serious doubts about the case’s merits.  “It’s certainly a novel reason to file a lawsuit,” said Prof. Fillmore, “so there’s not a lot of precedent to go by.  But I’m not altogether sure ‘cognitive dissonance’ is legally recognized as the sort of thing over which it’s really appropriate to talk about damages.”

Over in the university’s political science department, Dr. Chris Arugula had a slightly different take.  “Before anyone gets too excited,” he said, “we should remember that this recommendation is only a recommendation.  Nor is this terribly surprising, coming from them.  Their job is to identify hazards, and there’s no doubt that using the cell phone while driving can be hazardous.

“But just like the nutrition science people who make pronouncements on healthy eating that may not take into account of what foods are available, affordable, or for that matter enjoyable to those concerned,” Arugula continued, “safety is the only measure the NTSB recognizes; but on the roads there may be other considerations.  Is all cell phone use risky enough to justify the inconvenience?  Would such a law even be enforceable?  That’s beyond the NTSB’s area of expertise.

“The point is, the NTSB has offered its advice.  It’s up to society, through its representatives, to weigh the costs and benefits and legislate accordingly.”

Back at the military surplus outlet Mr. Howitzer continues to doubt the effect of any new legislation.  “Some places have already banned texting while driving, and some people think that’s just making things worse,” Mr. Howitzer said.  “People still text; they just do it lower, meaning their eyes are farther from the where they ought to be, making them even more dangerous.

“A cell phone law would be just the same.  The only ones who would observe it are the responsible people who aren’t causing the problems.  We’ve already got laws on the books about reckless driving–don’t those count for anything?  Or am I going to have to use my cell phone to order some Ron Paul bumper stickers?”

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