There was this story a couple months ago about voter suppression in Tennessee being overturned. I was speaking about it to someone about how small court fines could disenfranchise a voter.
A party listening in, not part of the conversation, chimed in, “Well, then that’ll get them to pay their fines.” I realized, of course, that they hadn’t read the story.
“The case was about the state confiscating driver’s licenses of people who had been unable to pay court costs when appearing for various misdemeanors. Losing their licenses severely impacted their ability to find or keep employment which would have enabled them to pay later.
“In some cases, desperate people would drive even without a license in order to work, and when caught driving without a license would then face further court costs in a terrible cycle which seemed almost designed to keep people indigent (and also disenfranchised)… Taking away driver’s licenses from people who are too poor to pay court costs is, in a very real way, a tool of institutional voter suppression.”
I realized that some people actually believe that allowing a citizen to be disenfranchised essentially for being poor. Damn, that’s why the US got rid of the poll tax via the 24th Amendment. See Carol Anderson – “ONE PERSON, NO VOTE” & THE IMPACT OF VOTER SUPPRESSION – interview on The Daily Show.
Moreover, this idea IRRITATED me greatly, and I suspect that the interloper could hear the disdain in my voice. I have the same contempt for a Supreme Court that sided with vote suppressors in Ohio to remove more than two million voters from the rolls simply because they hadn’t voted recently. Check out this story from Virginia.
This is why I tend to WRITE these things. Talking about them exhausts me because nuance often gets lost. “They did something, so they should be punished” often runs smack dab into constitutional rights and the ability of life, liberty and that pursuit of happiness thing suggested by the Declaration of Independence.
It’s not that I CAN’T talk about these issues, but rather I believe I’m less EFFECTIVE at it than writing about it. I can rethink and edit without too much emotional involvement.
If I DON’T talk about it, and I have an opinion – occasionally I don’t – wait a few days, or maybe a few weeks – and I’ll send you my thoughts in a blog post.