The trend toward "signing away rights"

Tim May tcmay at
Tue Dec 10 10:36:34 PST 2002

On Tuesday, December 10, 2002, at 07:03  AM, Trei, Peter wrote:
> Reality precedes fiction. Around Boston I sometimes see
> cars with an odd little sticker in the back window, white, round,
> with a stylized blue car in the top half (it can also be read as
> the face of someone wearing a fedora, peering out from under the
> brim).
> If you put one of these stickers on your car, you are giving the
> police permission to pull the car over without probable cause if
> they find it on the road late at night (1am-5am, or something like
> that), just to check that all is in order.
> I think it's being promoted as an anti-theft tool.

This figures, that Boston is involved, as "The Practice" is set in 
Boston. The writers try to use local news to shape the stories they 
tell, as with the "ripped from the headlines" themes of other programs.

And this really does raise some interesting issues which need 
exploration, here as well as on t.v.

For example, to a kind of pure libertarian, signing away rights is 
permissible. Employees at corporations do it every day, and always 
have. Many libertarians would even support selling oneself into slavery 
(perhaps to pay for some operation or to provide for one's children.) 
And indentured servitude is easy to support.

Signing away rights is also common in certain residential communities, 
where the local rules ("CC&Rs") may restrict all sort of activities.

However, when it is government one signs rights away to, and when there 
are issues of what happens to those who DON'T have the "Mr. Policeman 
is Your Friend!" sticker on their cars, the issues are no longer about 

Vernor Vinge could probably write some good stories around these themes.

--Tim May

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