The rules apply to you, too

Johnson City Press • Jul 8, 2018 at 8:15 AM

There’s a lot of talk nationally these days about respecting the rule of law. In most cases, though, that axiom applies to “the other guy,” not the one in the mirror.

Many of us are guilty of violating what we consider “suggestions” rather than hard and fast rules.

Take speed limits for example. From purely anecdotal observation, we’d guess that the average driver on Interstate 26 runs between 5 and 10 mph over the speed limit through Johnson City at all times. Unless law enforcement is within sight, the interstate is a free-for-all akin to Bristol Motor Speedway. Heaven forbid you actually obey the speed limit — you’ll be dangerously tailgated in either lane.

The would-be Dale Earnhardts of the world don’t just run on I-26. They love to speed, dodge and tailgate their way through city streets. It’s always amazing to see coffee-slurping morning commuters pass and weave down East Unaka Avenue or West Market Street, only to land at a red light, sitting right alongside the cars they just passed. Then, they’ll do it all over again — logic be darned. The prospects of injuring a pedestrian or plowing into the back of another vehicle have absolutely no effect.

Speaking of no effect, Johnson City’s parks have signs clearly outlining what’s allowed on the grounds, yet many visitors just walk right by and break the rules anyway. Try walking around Civitan Park without encountering dog excrement. The track is a minefield. The city even provides small plastic bags and animal waste receptacles around the perimeter, but dog walkers can’t be bothered to use them.

Many dog walkers also allow their pets to run off leash in the parks. It doesn’t matter how well you think your dog obeys your voice commands, an unrestrained animal is a problem waiting to happen. Encounters with park visitors, other dogs and especially children could result in injuries and your own liability. The leash and animal waste rules don’t just cover Johnson City’s parks, by the way. The ordinances apply to all public areas in the city.

Not littering, too, is clearly an optional law in many a mind. The plastic bottles, bags, wrappers and other garbage left behind after soccer matches and other events in our parks show just how little people care. Trash cans are just a few feet away, but the parks often are covered in litter, and no, it’s not someone else’s responsibility to clean up your mess.

As expected, local lawbreakers celebrated our country’s birthday in their usual fashion last Wednesday. They kept the cops busy — and their neighbors awake — across the Tri-Cities area by firing off rockets left and right despite ordinances banning them. Police are trying to crack down on the offenders in the wake of the aerial assaults, but you can count on restless nights every July 4th and New Year’s Eve.

What’s so hard about doing the right thing on occasion? Is a safe drive to work, a feces-free stroll through the park or a good night’s sleep too much to ask?

Just be good citizens, people.

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