After his wife received a ticket for tripping a red-light camera, Oregon resident Mats Järlström openly criticized the Orwellian devices and the mathematical formulas used to time traffic lights. Big brother apparently does not like those that use math and logic to criticize the system. According to the Institute for Justice Järlström was fined $500 for violating a law that prohibits him from offering mathematical criticism without a license.
Järlström was convinced the cameras were using an out-of-date formula, so he took his message to practically anyone who would listen — local TV stations, a conference of traffic engineers, and even the state board of engineer examiners. That is when he got in trouble for using his free speech to point it out. After being fined, Järlström filed a lawsuit against what he called an “unconstitutional ban on mathematical debate.”
The Institute for Justice says the actual fine from the state engineering board was for Järlström calling himself an engineer. The thing is, Järlström does have a degree in electrical engineering and has worked in engineering jobs, but the problem is he doesn’t carry a state license as a Professional Engineer. In Oregon’s eyes, even his use of the word “engineer,” lowercase, is appropriating a title, and he’s not a real engineer.
Järlström’s initial issue was that the green-yellow-red progression was too short for lights with a left or right turn. He researched it and then criticized the math equation that governs this timing. He was doing research for free as a concerned citizen, with his background aiding the effort and lending credence to his findings.
But the board said he was “practicing engineering without being registered.”
“I’m not practicing engineering, I’m just using basic mathematics and physics, Newtonian laws of motion, to make calculations and talk about what I found,” Järlström said.
Järlström and the Institute for Justice claim these licensing boards violate free speech by fining those who criticize both the boards and the government agencies behind things like traffic cameras.
Samuel Gedge, an attorney for the institute said, “Criticizing the government’s engineering isn’t a crime; it’s a constitutional right. Under the First Amendment, you don’t need to be a licensed lawyer to write an article critical of a Supreme Court decision. You don’t need to be a licensed landscape architect to create a gardening blog, and you don’t need to be a licensed engineer to talk about traffic lights.”
The Constitution of the US guarantees us the right to free speech and Oregon is trying to take that away. If the state has the right calculations, then prove him wrong, if not, then change them or get rid of the red light cameras. It really should be that simple. But to fine someone for criticizing equations used, while providing no evidence they are programmed correctly is simply wrong.
(Article By Jeremiah Jones)